Ramadan Recipes: Keto Taco Salad
Regardless the culture, food traditions bring us together.
One of the things I love to do is cook. I grew up in an Italian family, and my father, while not Italian, was a professionally trained chef, so he could cook anything you put in front of him.
I grew up in a family that loved food, and most of our family traditions centered around it. Coming to the Middle East five years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food traditions here were similar, even if the dishes and spices were a little different. Food is really something that brings us together!
Unfortunately, as much as I loved those foods, as I got older, I started to realize that some of the traditional Italian foods and I didn’t mix well. Pasta and I just didn’t agree (goodbye, lasagna!). Bread sometimes gave me an upset stomach. It wasn’t an allergy, but it was enough of an intolerance that I looked at avoiding the things that made me feel bad.
So, I ended up turning to the ketogenic diet so I could enjoy the things I liked, but not get a stomachache. I also loved the creative challenge of finding new ways to enjoy the flavors and dishes I loved before.
The ketogenic diet has a bit of a bad reputation – people hear it and assume it’s all cheeseburgers and chicken wings and butter. I think this is an older misconception from the days of Atkins, and while there are some meals that include the occasional cheeseburger, my meals are mostly full of leafy greens, bell peppers, and cucumbers – along with other veggies.
I stick to eating no more than 20g of net carbs per day, which means that my carbs are generally coming from the vegetables I mentioned, fats are coming from a bit of butter, coconut oil, or olive oil, and my proteins are chicken, fish, turkey, and beef.
The ketogenic diet is about teaching your body to burn fat for fuel, rather than simple carbohydrates. It’s a high fat, moderate protein, low carb style of eating that works for me and my body.
If you’re like me and get stomachaches with carbs, or you simply want to limit your intake a bit, I want to share with you one of my favorite keto recipes: the Keto Taco Salad. Keep in mind, this is flexible – most of my cooking is done intuitively, so I’ve done my best to make a recipe you can follow – but feel free to adjust to your tastes and preferences.
Keto Taco Salad, serves 4
1 package minced beef (450g/1lb) or chicken
2 whole heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
½ package of fresh spinach
1 avocado, medium, sliced or cut into cubes
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters
¼ cup/59g fresh coriander leaves, chopped or green onion (or both!)
4 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, green – your choice), sliced
4 oz/112g shredded cheddar cheese (1oz/28g per salad)
4 TBL/50g sour cream
For the dressing:
I personally use a mixture of Frank’s hot sauce, green hot sauce, and sour cream.
You can look for avocado ranch salad dressings (there’s a great one on thatlowcarblife.com!), or other low carb dressings of your choice, like full fat ranch or even a fresh salsa or pico di gallo mixed with sour cream.
For the taco seasoning:
¼ cup/ 59g Chili powder
2 TBL/ 24g Cumin
2 TBL/ 24g Paprika
1 TBL/ 12g Garlic powder
1 TBL/ 12g Onion powder or minced onion
½ tsp/ 2.5g Cayenne
1 TBL/12g black pepper
2 tsp/10g coriander leaves (optional – or you can use oregano)
2 TBL/24g Salt
Add all of the spices to a small jar or baggie and shake well. If you don’t use all of it, you can store it. Generally, about 3 tablespoons (36g) per 1 package of minced beef with 2 tablespoons (29.5mL) of water will be perfect, but you can feel free to add or subtract a bit to taste. I personally like a little more intense flavor.
Nutritional info (approximate!): 16-18 servings, 15 calories, 1g fat, 3g carbohydrates (2 net carbs), protein 1, fiber 1
- Brown the beef in a skillet on medium heat. Break up the beef as it cooks.
- Once the beef is browned, drain the grease from the pan. Add the taco seasoning and water, stirring occasionally, until the water is gone and the seasoning is throughout the beef.
- Add all ingredients, including the beef, to a large salad bowl, and stir to combine. You may reserve the bell peppers to put along the sides, or chop into the bowl. I prefer them on the side.
- Divide into 4 bowls, top with the dressing of your choice, 1 tablespoon(24g) sour cream, and sprinkle a little coriander and/or green onion over the top. If you’ve chosen to keep the bell peppers to the side, feel free to arrange them as you wish, and you’re ready to eat!
Approximate nutritional information without dressing: calories 451, protein 32.8g, net carbs 8.5 (with taco seasoning), fat 29.5g.