Easy & Cheesy Lasagna Bowls – Low Carb and Keto Friendly

When I made this recipe the first time, there were no leftovers. There’s your first clue that it’s good! The entire Bayou Bunch loves these lasagna bowls because they’re super cheesy and rich. I love them because they are EASY and low-carb.

I do not make my sauce from scratch. You totally can if you want to, but I think the store-bought sauce is still very good. If you are closely counting carbs, you could absolutely get a higher quality sauce containing less sugar and made with organic tomatoes. I usually go for a one with some extra basil in it.

You can also choose what type of “noodles” you want. I prefer baked spaghetti squash, but in a pinch, I’ve used frozen zucchini or spaghetti squash “noodles.” You’ll need a few bags of the frozen noodles if you decide to go that route. Each bag only has about a 1.5 servings inside.

This isn’t the prettiest picture, but this recipe is so cheesy and satisfying.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 packages of frozen spaghetti squash or zucchini “noodles” OR a fresh spaghetti squash
  • Jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 c diced yellow onion
  • 1c diced bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 c chopped mushrooms (optional)
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 c fresh shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 c shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Cooked zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash
  • Parsley for garnish (optional)

Bake the Spaghetti Squash

To cook the squash, you’ll need to preheat the oven to 400. Cut the ends off of the squash, so that it stands upright. Then, cut it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.

Drizzle the squash with olive oil, and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Place the squash with the cut side DOWN on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the inside comes apart in to “noodles” when you scrape it gently with a fork.

You can either serve the dish in the spaghetti squash bowls, or assemble individual bowls. Because we have a family of five, individual bowls work best for us.

Make the Sauce

I use sweet Italian sausage for the sauce, browning it in a large pan over medium heat with about a cup each of diced onion and bell pepper. I also add two tablespoons of minced garlic. You can even add a cup of diced mushrooms if you’d like more veggies.

Once the meat and vegetables are cooked through, add in the spaghetti sauce and stir it together. Let it cook on low for about 15 minutes.

Make the Cheese Mixture & Assemble

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, and spices.

Now, you’re ready to put it all together. Pile 1/2 cup of “noodles” in the bottom of the bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the sauce mixture, 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture, and sprinkle with mozzarella and parsley.

Put each bowl in the microwave or oven (if they’re oven-safe) to melt the cheeses before serving.

If you’re feeding kids, add a piece of whole grain or gluten free toast.

Download the Recipe

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try this recipe, and I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Cajun Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Gumbo is a staple here in south Louisiana. As the temperatures drop, this dish is on everyone’s mind. There’s chicken and sausage, seafood, duck and andouille, and everyone has an opinion about which is best. Tomatoes? Okra? What color roux? It can get complicated.

This recipe is how I make it. It’s a little easier, healthy-ish, with plenty of spice. You will want to double this recipe if you have a big gumbo pot. The Bayou Boys loved it, and I didn’t even have enough for leftovers! I didn’t get a picture of the finished pot before they started dishing out bowls. It’s a crowd-pleaser and great for entertaining, but be prepared to spend some time in the kitchen — it’s not a quick process!

There’s nothing like gumbo when the weather cools!

I like to start my gumbo with a rotisserie chicken. Before the gumbo police comes after me, hear me out! It adds a ton of flavor to your broth and cuts down on the total time. Just try it!

Starting with rotisserie chicken is a great timesaver!

To start, separate the meat from the rotisserie chicken, breaking up large pieces. Keep the bones, and throw them in a large stock pot with about 1.5 quarts of water. Add a bay leaf or two. Let that baby boil for at least an hour. Longer is ok too. 

While that cooks, start chopping. You’ll need a pound of sausage. I prefer andouille, but regular smoked sausage is also good. Slice that sausage into very thin pieces. This is my personal preference, but I think it is so much better than thick chunks of sausage.

Andouille sausage is popular in Cajun cooking and adds a distinct, smokey flavor to dishes.

Brown the sausage in a large dutch oven or cast iron pot over medium heat. You want the sausage to get some brown on it, because those bits in the bottom of your pot add a ton of flavor.

This is what you want. All that brown stuff in the pan is going to make your gumbo taste amazing.

While that is cooking, dice one yellow onion, a bell pepper (any color), and 3-4 ribs of celery. This is the Cajun trinity, and it’s included in almost every Louisiana recipe.

Typically, you would use red or green bell pepper, but this is what I had on hand.

Once your sausage is cooked, remove it from the pot, and add your veggies. Allow them to cook, adding a little oil if needed. I make my roux with the veggies in the pot, adding 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of flour to the pot. Turn the heat down to medium low. Some people prefer to make the roux before adding veggies, but this is how my grandma makes it.

TIP: To make this recipe gluten-free, try using cassava flour. Be careful not to burn the cassava; it cooks much faster than regular flour.

This is the color you’re working toward. This is a medium-dark roux.

Give those veggies, flour and oil a little sprinkle of Tony’s seasoning. 

Do not leave the room! You can do a few dishes or check Instagram, but don’t go too far. Keeping the heat low, scrape the bottom with a flat wooden spoon. Stir the roux every few minutes until it gets a rich chocolatey brown color. This takes time, so don’t worry if it’s not getting dark enough. Do not let it burn.

Once the roux is finished, strain the broth in your stock pot, and slowly add it the broth to the gumbo pot, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go. Add the sausage and chicken to the pot, and let it simmer on low for another 30 minutes.

Add Tony’s seasoning to taste, but be careful not to make it too salty. 

This is seriously so good!

I serve this over brown rice and garish with a little chopped parsley. I don’t like filet in chicken and sausage gumbo, but I love it in seafood.

Mr. Bayou prefers his gumbo with okra. If you want to add okra, buy it frozen and chopped already. Boil the okra in a separate pot according to the package directions, and add a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice. This cuts the sliminess. Spoon the okra out with a slotted spoon after it’s cooked, and add it to the gumbo. This keeps the gumbo from getting slimy.

Now go make yourself a big pot of gumbo like a true Cajun!

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try making this! I’d love to know how it turns out. I’m sharing the whole process in a reel on Instagram! Definitely check it out.

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Chicken & Kale Salad with Sorghum Vinaigrette Recipe (and what I’ve been doing lately)

Do you ever have days when you just want to be creative and do something fun? That was me last week. Call it procrastination, lack of discipline, ADD — whatever, but I could not bring myself to be productive! I have several blog posts to write, recipes to try, a closet makeover to finish, and an empty house to clean (while kids are in school). 

Instead, I found myself in a creative frenzy, attacking various areas of the house, rearranging and reimagining, lost in a design trance and loving every minute of it. It started with repainting my living room art because the rust color was bothering me. The best thing about DIY art is that you can adjust it as needed. I still need to make a frame for it, but I’m not really focused on the living room right now.

If you remember, one of my big takeaways from the One Room Challenge this spring was to focus on completing one room at a time. This keeps me from buying 75 throw pillows and never investing in items that make a big impact or help complete a cohesive space. You can see how that project turned out here.

I simplified the shelves above the television and rearranged the fireplace.

For my rearranging, I didn’t purchase anything new, so I’m still technically on track. The gray vase on the mantle is new and was a birthday gift from Mr. Bayou. You can purchase it here. The white planter is from Target and is currently sold out, but if they restock it, you can find it here. Note, this post uses affiliate links, and if you purchase something from it, I might get a little commission.

Painting the (previously terracotta) pot led to rearranging the plants in my house. BTW, this is my next room to tackle, and I can’t wait to share all the details!

I ended up loving the maroon color in the painting so much that I decided to paint a pot too.  Project led to project, and before long, it was time for kids to get home!

I also switched out the gold pampas grass for the brown grass Mr. Bayou and I collected from the side of the road during our trip to Austin, TX. Ignore the Roomba dock… this is real life.

It always takes a while to adjust to new routines, and this is no different. Now that I’m finished with the little pity party I had for myself about waking up at 5 a.m. to get kids off to school, I can start planning my day and accomplishing some things! Yes, it’s early. They are all in middle school, which starts at 7 a.m.

Despite having to overcome my negative thinking about school start times, I did manage to pull this recipe together. I’ve been researching it for a while, collecting ingredients and trying out salad dressings. I’m so excited to share it with you.

Chicken and Kale Salad with Sorghum Vinaigrette

I love a good restaurant salad, but for some reason, it’s never the same at home. With the gorgeous colors and interesting fall flavors, this salad is good enough for guests!

Gather the Ingredients

I’d never heard of sorghum until about a month ago. According to this site, Sorghum is a “super grain, high in protein, rich in antioxidants and naturally gluten-free.” It can be eaten as a grain, ground into flour, or made into a syrup. To me, sorghum syrup tastes very similar to molasses, but it’s a little lighter and has a slightly milder flavor. It’s a natural sweetener like honey.

I purchased my sorghum syrup on Amazon here. The whole grain mustard is also from Amazon, linked here, but I’ve seen similar types in local grocery stores. It adds a ton of flavor to the dressing. It’s also delicious on sandwiches. 

This salad also calls for dried cranberries. Unfortunately, most cranberries in the grocery stores are full of added sugar. I purchased mine at Trader Joe’s, but you can also find them at Whole Foods or on Amazon. Sliced apples would be another great option.

The salad mix I used was also from Trader Joe’s. It contains kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, green cabbage, and red cabbage. I’ve seen similar mixes at Walmart, but you could also create your own by slicing the veggies into thin slices with a knife, or use a food processor. See my superfood salad recipe for more ideas.  Buying it this way, and mixing it with baby salad greens, is a huge time saver.

I used prepared rotisserie chicken for my salad, but if I were cooking for friends, I’d either use fresh rotisserie chicken or grill my own. 

Put the Salad Together

One of the keys to making a restaurant-quality salad is temperature. If possible, heat the chicken and the salad dressing just a little bit before assembling the ingredients. I assemble the dressing in a mason jar, and heat it in the microwave for about 45 seconds (without the lid). It’s nice to store it that way, too. Just shake it up when needed. It doesn’t need to be hot, but a cold salad right out of the fridge just isn’t as appetizing.

Just put the lid on, and give it a shake when you’re ready to eat.
It’s so pretty and colorful!

If you’re planning to serve the entire salad, warm the dressing first, and toss most of it with the greens. Then, layer the other ingredients on top. If you’re not planning to eat it all right away, definitely add salad dressing to each plate.

Here’s the printable recipe with all of the details!

Let me know if you try it! I’m planning to share the closet progress tomorrow and a few budget-friendly fall fashion items later in the week. Thank you for being here, and I hope you’ve found something helpful today.

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Tinga Chicken Taco Bowl

Spice it up this Taco Tuesday with a new spin on the usual Mexican fare. Seasoned with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, this delicious meal brings a ton of flavor without the carbs. I’ll show you how I put these together, along with ways to adapt the recipe for your family.

Tinga Chicken

There are tons of recipes for Tinga Chicken, but they all include chipotle peppers in adobo sauce mixed with some type of tomato or red sauce.

For starters, you need to either cook the chicken or start with rotisserie chicken meat. For the best flavor, use a mix of white and dark meat. I wanted to make a lot in this batch, so I could have leftovers. I used about one and a half pounds each of boneless, skinless chicken tenders and thighs. Make sure to trim the extra fat and tendons before cooking. I also sliced the thighs, so they would cook in the same amount of time as the tenders.

Not the prettiest pic, but here it is! I probably overcrowded the pan. It worked out though.

Place olive oil in a pan, and heat it up. I used my Le Creuset braiser, but cast iron would also work. It just needs to be able to get hot (no nonstick cookware). Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel before adding to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken in the pan for 8-10 minutes, flipping after about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low.

Shredded and ready for sauce. You could also use rotisserie chicken and jump to this step.

While the chicken cooks, dice half a yellow onion. Shred the chicken with two forks, and add the onion to the center of the pan. Sauté the onion for about two minutes.

Next, add four chopped chipotle peppers and a spoonful of the adobo sauce. Add one can of red enchilada sauce. Reduce the heat to low, and stir everything together to mix.

Saucy and delish!

Corn and Black Beans

I like to add a mix of corn and black beans to the bowl. It does add carbs, but you can adjust the amount based how much you use in your bowl. It’s so simple to throw together. Combine one can of drained corn, one can of drained, rinsed black beans, and about 1/2 cup of mild pico de gallo. Microwave for five minutes and stir. Add salt if needed.

This corn and black bean mix is so easy to throw together.

Assemble the Bowl

To keep this low-carb and reduce the calories, eat it with cauliflower rice. If you have the calories to spare, it’s also delicious with quinoa. My kids usually make nachos with tortilla chips. I used about one cup each of chicken, quinoa, cauliflower rice and black bean salsa.

You can adjust the toppings based on your preference, but here are our favorites.

  • Diced avocado
  • Freshly shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Sour cream
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced bell pepper
Use whatever toppings you prefer. This is what I had on hand. Highly recommend the cilantro. It’s a nice complement to the spice.

This makes a great lunch as well. Tinga Chicken Taco Bowls (with cauliflower rice, but without extra toppings) have about 419 calories per serving (assuming approx. 6 servings). The macros are 8 grams of fat, 20 grams of carbs, and 61 grams of protein.

Dinner time!

Below is a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try making this! I’d love to know how it turns out.

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Sausage & Kale Frittata

Need a simple, healthy dinner? I’ve got you covered. This little recipe, or some variation of it, is on repeat at my house. It’s a great way to use up leftover veggies, it’s inexpensive, and it’s full of protein!

First of all, what is a frittata? It’s simply a breakfast casserole with no crust. It’s typically savory and includes meat, cheese, and veggies. Because it doesn’t have a crust, it’s a great option for a keto, gluten-free, or low-carb diet.

This is another frittata I’ve cooked. This one was baked in the same pan I used to cook with.

Before we get started, let’s have little chat about the pan I used here. To show this recipe, I used a nonstick skillet, which is not my favorite because of the harmful chemicals that can be released into your food. However, if you keep the heat low enough, these are generally safe to use.

My preferred pan is an enameled cast iron Le Creuset Skillet Braiser (in the pic above), here’s an affiliate link if you’re looking to purchase one. An affiliate link just means that if you click on it and end up purchasing something, I might get a small commission. Amazon has a similar product available for a fraction of the price. It has great reviews, too. Here’s a link for that one. What makes these pans so great is that they can go directly from the stove top into the oven — aka fewer dishes. They are also safer to use because they don’t have the nonstick coating, and they are even dishwasher safe.

Ok, you’re hungry, so let’s get cooking! To begin, preheat the oven to 350. You’ll need it later. Brown a pound of breakfast sausage in a skillet or braiser over medium heat. Use a meat masher, like this one, to break up the meat into small pieces.

When the meat is almost browned, add the diced bell pepper. I love the yellow color I used here. Once the bell pepper is starting to soften, add the chopped kale, and cook until the kale is starting to wilt and has turned a bright green color. Season with about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Remove this from the heat.

Yes, I’m aware that my nails look terrible. Focus on the food!

While the meat mixture is cooking, crack the eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk until they are completely blended, and add the 1/4 cup milk. You can also use half and half or heavy cream here (better for keto). Season this mixture with another 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Mix everything together thoroughly.

Give your oven-safe baking dish a quick spray with some avocado oil. Spread the meat and veggie mixture out into the dish, and top with the cheese.

Next pour the egg mixture over the entire top of the casserole. Gently press down, if needed, to make sure everything is covered in eggs. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the center is set and not runny.

Serve this with fresh fruit for a colorful and heathy meal. This recipe is so easy to adapt to whatever ingredients you have on hand — spinach and mushrooms with bacon, tomato, onion, and bell pepper with sausage, etc. For my kids, I usually add a slice of buttered toast.

This pic is from last night’s dinner where I added mushrooms. I couldn’t resist sharing because it looked so tasty.

I created a fun reel showing this recipe on my Instagram page. You can see it here.

Here’s a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try making this! I’d love to know how it turns out.

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Rich and Cheesy Zucchini Lasagna

There are a ton of Zucchini Lasagna recipes out there, and I’ve made a lot of them. This recipe has been a family favorite for years, ever since Little Miss started a gluten-free diet. This recipe is the simplest and most flavorful, combining my favorite things from several recipes, as well as a few tricks of my own. This recipe is gluten-free, keto, and easily adapts to Whole 30, if you choose the right sauce.

To me, the biggest challenge when making a Zucchini Lasagna is to keep it from getting too watery. It doesn’t have the pasta to absorb the excess water. I’ll show you how I overcome that in this recipe. It’s not watery, just cheesy, rich, and so satisfying!

Also, I almost always use premade, jar spaghetti sauce in this recipe. If I were going to make it from scratch, I’d probably use the Pioneer Woman Spaghetti Sauce recipe linked here. Even using this shortcut, however, this isn’t a quick meal. It is delicious, though, and the entire Bayou crew requests this dish!

To begin, preheat the oven to 425. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut off the ends of 4 medium zucchini squash, and slice into about 1/8 inch thick pieces with a mandoline slicer.

Here’s an affiliate link to purchase a mandoline slicer on Amazon. An affiliate link means that if you click the link and buy something, I get a small commission. After using my mandoline slicer and cutting my fingers more than a few times, I prefer this one because of the tall base to keep it sturdy. Also, it has over 20,000 reviews and 5 stars.

While you can use a knife to slice the zucchini, it’s hard to get the slices thin and consistent enough to bake evenly.

Arrange the zucchini “noodles” in a single layer on the parchment-covered baking sheets, and sprinkle about a teaspoon of sea salt over each pan. If they overlap a little, that is ok. The salt helps draw out the moisture. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes.

While you have that going, brown a pound of lean ground meat and a pound of Italian sausage in a large pan over medium high heat. I like to add about two tablespoons of minced garlic and 1/2 cup of finely diced onion to the pan while it cooks. Use a meat masher like this one to break it up into small pieces.

Once the meat is browned, turn the heat down to low, and add the spaghetti sauce. Stir to mix it together. Your zucchini should be about finished now. Grab those out the oven, and change the temp to 400.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, one egg, chopped basil, thyme, and black pepper. Stir together until fully mixed.

Give your oven-safe 13 x 9 inch baking dish a quick spray with some avocado oil. Add about 1 1/2 cups of the rmeat sauce to the bottom of the pan. Then, place a layer of of the zucchini. Add about a cup or so of the cheese mixture. I like to use a spoon to scatter scoops of the mixture over the zucchini. This doesn’t have to be exact.

Ready for the secret ingredient? Take a tablespoon of cornstarch and sprinkle it over this layer. Repeat everything, even the cornstarch, again once. Add another layer without the cornstarch. You should be left with a few zucchini slices and some red sauce. Add the zucchini and remaining sauce to the top, and gently press everything into the pan to even it out. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes on 400.

Remove the lasagna from the oven, and add the last 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese. Bake for five more minutes.

Remove the pan, and garnish the lasagna with slivers of fresh basil before serving. I love to serve this with Brazi bites. They’re a gluten-free frozen cheese and tapioca “bread”. A side Caesar salad would also be a good option. It also goes well with a glass of red wine. We love Josh Cabernet Sauvignon or Menage a Trois Red Blend (a great affordable option). A Malbec would also pair well.

If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, freeze individual servings for later.

Here’s a printable PDF version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try making this! I’d love to know how it turns out.

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Healthy and Simple: Homemade Bison Tacos

If you’ve never had bison, don’t stop reading! This recipe also works with lean ground beef, but I encourage you to branch out.

Bison tends to be leaner than beef and has a slightly different texture. If you use ground beef, you might need to drain the fat off of the meat once it’s cooked. With bison, this step isn’t necessary. It cooks up so nicely.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. If you click on them and end up purchasing something, I may get a small commission, which I will use to keep the fun content coming.

To begin, chop one red onion and two bell peppers. (I prefer colorful bell peppers to the green ones — I think they taste better!) Sauté the onion and bell peppers with some olive oil in a large skillet or braiser like the one below. Add the garlic, and allow everything to cook until the veggies are soft and the onions are starting to turn clear.

I love making taco meat in this Le Creuset Cast Iron Braiser. It’s an investment, but the quality is amazing. Mine is blue, but that white one is so pretty!

While the veggies are cooking, prepare the taco mix in a small bowl. I use all of this mix for two pounds of meat. However, you could easily half the recipe.

Next add the bison meat. Use a masher like the one below to break the meat apart. Cook until it’s fully browned.

Next, add the taco seasoning mix and stir to combine. Allow the meat to simmer on low for about five more minutes, so the flavors can blend together. If you have a braiser with a lid, like mine, you can turn the heat off after five minutes, and leave the lid on until you’re ready to eat.

I like to serve this taco meat with crunchy taco shells, sharp shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, and shredded lettuce. If I’m watching my carb intake, I will eat this as a salad or in a bowl with cauliflower rice. Add some black beans or corn as a side to finish off the meal. It’s also great with steamed vegetables.

The perfect taco… surprisingly difficult to photograph!

These go tacos also pair well with my other Mexican recipes, including a fresh, simple Guacamole, and Low-Sugar Margaritas. Click here for those recipes.

If you’re old-school like me and prefer paper, here’s a printable version of this recipe:

Let me know if you try these! I’d love to know how they turned out.

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Spinach & Artichoke Dip – An Entertaining Must-Have

Spinach and Artichoke Dip is versatile and goes well with vegetables, crackers, or tortilla chips. I wouldn’t call this healthy, but it is keto-friendly if you skip the chips.

This rich dip is a favorite in my family for it’s creamy texture and rich flavors. Even if you don’t like spinach, you will love this cheesy dip.

It also freezes well. I will usually divide the recipe once it cools, and freeze half of it. To make it last longer in the freezer, line the storage container with plastic wrap, and wrap the dip in plastic before freezing.

To begin, microwave two boxes of frozen spinach according to the directions on the package. Allow it to cool, and squeeze out the excess liquid. The best way to do this is to wrap the spinach in several layers of paper towels, and strain the liquid over the sink. The picture isn’t pretty, but hopefully you get the idea.

Next, drain the liquid from the marinated artichoke hearts, and give them a quick chop. If you see any hard parts, throw those away. You can use the artichoke hearts in water, but I like the extra flavor they get when marinating.

In a large pot, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil on medium head. Once the onions are clear, add chopped artichokes, and allow them to heat up.

Next, add the cream cheese blocks and stir to melt.

Finally, stir in the sour cream and cooked spinach, allowing to warm and melt together. Turn off the heat, and stir in the Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.

Here’s the recipe, as well as the printable PDF.

I’d love to hear your feedback if you try it! Comment below or tag me on social media (Instagram or Facebook).

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Healthy Cinco de Mayo Recipes: Guacamole, Easy Shrimp Fajitas and Fresh, Simple No-Sugar Margaritas

Plan an easy Cinco de Mayo meal that fits into your healthy diet. Full of fresh flavors and clean ingredients, these recipes will not disappoint. Each of these is easy to adapt to Whole 30, keto, or low-carb lifestyles.

Click on the links below to download the printable PDF recipes, or read on for step-by-step instructions.

Fresh Guacamole

For starters, whip up this Fresh Guacamole to munch on while you cook. I use three medium avocados in this recipe. No matter how many avocados I use, we never seem to have leftover guacamole. It’s always gone!

This recipe hinges on good avocados. You can tell if an avocado is ripe when the stem piece at the end comes off easily. They should also be a little soft when you squeeze them. You can ripen avocados in a paper bag, or store them near bananas. The bananas release a gas that helps them ripen. Once they are ripe, move the avocados to the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. This will help them last much longer.

To begin the recipe, cut the avocados in half, and remove the seed. Then, slice the avocados in grid (shown above), and use a spoon to scoop the pieces into a bowl.

Mash the avocados with a potato masher. Add juice from 1/2 a lime, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix those ingredients together.

Cut a handful (6-8) cherry tomatoes into quarters. Place them inside two folded paper towels, and gently soak up the excess juice and seeds. Add these to the mixing bowl.

Next, remove the cilantro leaves from the stalks, and chop the leaves. You should have about 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro leaves.

Mix the ingredients and serve with tortilla chips or veggies to dip.

I usually eat this dip with celery sticks or colorful bell peppers cut into slices. Of course the rest of my crew likes it with chips.


Easy Shrimp Fajitas

Up next for our Cinco feast, we are making Easy Shrimp Fajitas. These are completely from scratch, and easy to adapt to Whole 30, Keto, and low-carb.

This recipe is so simple because the fajitas are made completely in the oven on one sheet pan, making cleanup a breeze.

To begin, preheat the oven to 375, and slice a red onion and two bell peppers into strips. I prefer to use red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, but green would also work. This picture below shows how I slice an onion. I’m not sure if it’s the “right” way, but it works for me. If you leave the roots on the onion until the end, it stays together better and doesn’t smell as strongly.

Once your onions and peppers are ready, line a sheet pan with foil. Drizzle olive oil over the foil to keep your veggies from sticking. Spread out the peppers and onions on the pan, and place in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the fajita mix in a small bowl. The recipe calls for sugar and cornstarch. This part is not technically keto or Whole 30, but it’s a very small amount in the total recipe. If you’re being super careful, you could omit these.

I keep all of the spices for this recipe on hand. They are in almost all of my Mexican recipes.

After 10 minutes, take the peppers and onions out of the oven. Make sure the shrimp are thawed and ready. If you need to, use a few paper towels and pat them dry. Spread the shrimp over the veggies and sprinkle with the seasoning. Top with two more tablespoons of olive oil and toss to mix. Spread it back out onto the pan, and cook for 12-14 minutes. You can tell the shrimp are done when they are firm and no longer pink.

While the shrimp cook, prepare the fajita toppings. I like to serve shrimp fajitas with flour tortillas, shredded cheddar cheese, diced tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole, and shredded lettuce. Usually, I will eat this as a salad (shown below) or over cauliflower rice.

My go-to way to eat this meal is as a salad. I just pile the ingredients on high.

Add some black beans or corn as a side to finish off the meal if you’d like. It’s also great with steamed vegetables.


Fresh, Simple No-Sugar Margaritas

These aren’t exactly Keto or Whole 30, but they are pretty close. If you’re looking for a sugary, sweet frozen margarita, this isn’t the recipe for you. Note: This recipe is for one cocktail.

I use fresh citrus juice, natural sweeteners, and tequila for a refreshing cocktail that is full of vitamin C.

To make these, a cocktail shaker and some type of citrus juicer are really needed.

To begin, roll the citrus fruits onto the counter under your palm to soften them and make them easier to juice. Slice each fruit in half, and reserve a lime slice to garnish. Next, use a juicer to squeeze the fruit juices into a bowl or large measuring cup. Add three teaspoons of monkfruit sweetener (more if you prefer a sweeter drink) and two ounces of tequila. Fill the shaker almost completely with ice, and add the drink mixture. Cover and shake the cocktails for about a minute. This is actually the secret to the best cocktails — it gets them really cold and mixes the flavors.

I use monkfruit sweetener in this recipe because it’s all natural, zero calories, and doesn’t have an unusual aftertaste. If you’d rather use real sugar, a mixture of simple syrup is also fine.

I typically buy Hornitos Plata Tequila, but you can use whatever you prefer. This recipe makes one large margarita. Garnish with a lime slice, fun straw, and a drink umbrella topper to make it more festive.

I hope you have an amazing Cinco de Mayo, and let me know if you try these recipes! I’d love to hear your feedback.

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Chicken Fajita Soup with Quinoa

Updated 12/28/21

Sometimes I just need soup. It’s warm, healthy, and a nice change of pace for dinner. I even love it in the summer — weird, I know! This particular soup is very easy to make and contains tons of veggies. The Bayou Boys all eat it too (everyone but Little Miss Bayou — she doesn’t eat Mexican food at all). Also, your house will smell divine while it all cooks.

I make this soup in my Le Creuset Oval 6.75 Qt Dutch Oven. This is my absolute favorite thing to cook with in my kitchen. Le Creuset lasts forever, and they are an enameled cast iron. Cooking on with these pots is a dream. They give a beautiful browning effect, when you’re cooking the chicken. However, when you add the broth, all of that flavor lifts off the pan and goes into your food. They also hold heat for a long time, so I make this soup ahead of time and let it stay warm until we are ready to eat. These pots also go into the oven!

Le Creuset pots come in a variety of colors. I prefer the white, because that is pretty much my go-to for everything in my home.They are pricey, but if you don’t have one, you can find it here on Amazon. These would be an amazing Mother’s Day gift too.

The other reason you need a large Dutch oven or big pot for this soup is that it makes a lot. I love that because I will eat these leftovers for lunch.

To start, make sure you pat your chicken breasts (or tenders) dry. If you don’t the water will make the chicken boil, and you won’t get the browning that really gives the chicken flavor. You can choose to chop the chicken before you brown it, or after. It’s really up to you.

I prefer to use colorful bell peppers, because I think they taste better and look pretty. You can chop them smaller if your people aren’t into big pieces of bell pepper.

If you haven’t tried quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), please give it a try. It’s like rice, but has more protein. I love it. You can use either the white or tri colored.

Note: I used fajita seasoning mix to make this recipe super simple. Taco mix would also be good. FYI, if you are gluten free, make your own mix or use a gluten-free version. Little Miss doesn’t eat this dish, so I don’t have to worry about it too much. If you’re doing Whole 30, you would want to make your own, since the packaged version has a small amount of flour and sugar. This dish isn’t very keto friendly with the quinoa, but you could omit that ingredient.

Let me know if you give this recipe a try. I’ve created a downloadable PDF if you prefer to print it out.

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