Chicken Fried Cauliflower Rice and the Paleo Diet

This dude is gonna eat Paleo tonight.

This dude is gonna eat Paleo tonight.

In an ongoing effort to improve my diet I’ve been trying some Paleo recipes.  I’m not doing 100% Paleo right now, just testing the waters some to see if I can do it.   The hardest things for me to give up would be cheese and beer.  I might be able to cut the cheese (lol, I’m hilarious!) but I really, really love craft beer.  Not just drinking beer but hunting down rare ones and trying them with friends, the whole craft beer… personality.  If it came down to my health or weekend beers with friends I’d give it up, but I wouldn’t be happy about it and I’d probably bitch about it a lot.

The Paleo Diet’s main tenets are  no grains, no legumes and no dairy and eating unprocessed foods.  Meat is acceptable and the diet doesn’t frown on animal fat.  Nuts (no peanuts!) and seeds are OK as are lots of fruit and vegetables.  The diet is not anti-carb, it’s just selective on where you get your carbs from.  The same goes for the meats, the diet prefers grass-fed beef as opposed to beef raised on a grain-fed diet.  Of course my description is very simplified, for more info take a look at the Wikipedia entry on the Paleolithic Diet or The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet.  As with any diet there those that think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread (probably because they’re not allowed to have sliced bread) and others that think it is a diet created by the devil to destroy us.  As a child of the 70’s I was brought up on the classic food pyramid and told that eating a boatload of bread and beans and rice was good for me, so I’m still a skeptic but the more info I see and read the more I’m willing to give it a shot.

I saw several recipes online for Cauliflower Rice and one mentioned making fried rice with it so that’s what I did.  I ended up with a hearty chicken fried rice loaded with vegetables.  It’s low cal, high protein and low carb.  Although I used soy sauce in mine you could substitute coconut aminos for the soy sauce and it would be totally Paleo.

This really is a powerhouse recipe macro-wise.  It only has 322 calories per serving, only 15 grams carbs, 99 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber.  I won’t even go into the details about the vitamins you’ll get from everything, mostly because I don’t know what they are, but you can bet it’s a lot of damn vitamins.

Cauliflower Fried Rice

Cauliflower Fried Rice

CHICKEN FRIED CAULIFLOWER RICE
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small (1/4” piece) of ginger, grated
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 1 large yellow squash
  • ½ medium onion
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 medium carrot, sliced
  • ½ Tbsp soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

There are two ways you can ‘rice’ the cauliflower.  I use a food processor and break it into small pieces then pulse until it’s the right size.  If you don’t have a good processor you could also use the large openings on a box grater, note that grating cauliflower is very messy.  If using the food processor you may want to do a few small batches.  Place this in a microwaveable bowl and set it aside for now.

Next, slice the chicken thin, as you would for any stir fry.  Also slice up all your veggies and put them together on a plate or bowl.  Beat two eggs and add the soy sauce to the eggs.  You’ll want to prep all this at the beginning as things will move quickly once you get going.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add ½ Tbsp of coconut oil.  Add the sliced chicken to the pan and cook until no pink is visible, this only takes a few minutes.  You can season the chicken some if you like.  Remove the chicken and set it to the side.  Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and sauté for about 30 seconds then add the vegetables.  Cook the vegetables to your liking, I prefer mine to maintain some crispness.  Remove vegetables from pan and sit aside.

Microwave the riced cauliflower for 2 minutes.  While that is cooking add the remaining ½ Tbsp of coconut oil to the pan and scramble the eggs.  Add the cauliflower to the scramble egg and chop the egg into it.  Season the cauliflower and rice then add the chicken and vegetables  and combine all ingredients and check seasonings again.  Heat for 1-2 minutes to make sure all ingredients are warm. Serve.

Tips, tricks and shortcuts

  • Use any variety of vegetables you’d like:  Water chestnuts and bamboo shoots would be a good addition and you can top this with chopped green onion as well.
  • This is mostly Paleo but if you’re 100% hardcore Paleo this can be made without the soy sauce and sub coconut aminos. (I haven’t tried the coconut aminos so I add that as a recommendation from others.)
  • This can also be made with shrimp, pork or beef.
  • Sriracha makes this even more awesome.

BASIC NUTRITION INFO (per serving / 4 servings per recipe)

Calories:  286
Carbohydrates:  16 grams
Fat:  10 grams
Protein: 34 grams
Fiber:  6 grams

Enjoy!

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Healthier Shepherd’s Pie

I. Love. Shepherd’s Pie.  The stuff has all the making of an awesome and hearty meal – meat, potatoes, veggies in a PIE!  Damn.

Buuuut, I’m trying to get fitter not fatter so I had to go to the lab with this one and try to tweak it to make it healthier.  The end result was the best Shepherd’s Pie I have ever made with a 33% drop in calories from a traditional recipe.  I used two main tricks to accomplish this, using creamy mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes and using extra lean ground beef.  Plus, I really loaded the veggies up instead of having a small layer you end up with about 50/50 meat to veggie ratio.

So here’s how you do it…

Healthier Shepherd’s Pie

Serves 6

Ingredients

Mmmmm…. pie.

1 lb lean ground beef (93/7)
¼ yellow onion, diced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup beef broth
1 Tbsp corn starch
1 cup small lima beans (pre-cooked or canned)
1 cup sweet peas (pre-cooked or canned)
1 cup sliced carrots (pre-cooked or canned)
1 medium head cauliflower
2 oz low fat cream cheese
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Spray a heated pan with cooking spray, set heat to medium and saute onions until soft then add ground beef and cook until it’s almost done.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook until beef and mushrooms are done.

Stir corn starch into cold beef broth making sure the corn starch is thoroughly mixed into the broth.  Pour the broth slowly into the pan of ground beef and stir continuously until hot.  Once heated it will start to thicken, you can add a bit more broth to thin the mixture or a bit more broth and starch to thicken.  You want the sauce to be very thick, but not pasty.  Add lima beans, carrots and peas to the beef mixture and cook until heated.  Add a generous amount of black pepper to the mixture and place on low to keep warm

To make the creamy mashed cauliflower:  Clean and cut the head of cauliflower into small florets.  Cook in salted, boiling water for 15 minutes or until fork tender.  Do not overcook as the cauliflower will be mushy.  Drain and place into a mixing bowl.  Add the garlic, low fat cream cheese and Parmesan and mix with hand mixer until smooth.  Taste to see if additional salt or garlic is needed.

Pour beef mixture into a casserole dish and spread into an even layer.  Top with the creamy mashed cauliflower spreading that into an even layer covering all the beef mixture.  You may add additional grated Parmesan, ground pepper or parsley to the the top prior to baking.  Place in preheated 400F oven for 30 minutes.  Remove and let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Tips, tricks and shortcuts

  • You can use any mix of vegetables you like for this.  If you don’t like lima beans, don’t use them.  Some people use corn, some simply the peas and carrots.
  • Do yourself a favor and get some REAL Parmesan cheese, not the stuff in a shaker can but a block of the real deal.  It will actually last longer as the flavor is much more intense so a little goes a long way.
  • The creamy mashed cauliflower makes a great side dish on its own.  Also, the cauliflower recipe is not my own, I found it on a Google search.

BASIC NUTRITION INFO (per serving)

Prepare to be amazed…

HEALTHIER VERSION
Calories: 257
Carbohydrates: 22 grams
Fat: 8 grams Fat: 21 grams
Protein: 24 grams
Fiber: 7 grams

ORIGINAL VERSION (WITH POTATOES & GROUND CHUCK)
Calories : 433
Carbohydrates: 38 grams
Protein: 21 grams
Fiber: 6 grams

I was really impressed with how this turned out.  The bit of cream cheese in the cauliflower really helps to nail the consistency that makes mashed potatoes so damn good.   Since the veggies are mixed in with the meat and sauce mixture they have a ton of flavor as well, this one is a winner.  I guarantee you will like this recipe or I’ll send you a link to someone else’s recipe… you have my word on that.

If you try this recipe please let me know what you thought!  If you have any awesome ideas to make it healthier or more awesome please feel free to share those, too.

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Shepherd’s Pie fresh out of the oven.