Keto Stuffed Peppers

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My grandma always made stuffed peppers when I was a kid and I wasn’t hugely fond of them. I didn’t really like the slightly bitter green bell peppers and the stuff inside was fine at best. Not that my nonna couldn’t cook – she was a beast, particularly when it came to pasta. I just didn’t care for stuffed peppers, and though I fear retribution in the form of a ghostly wooden spoon upside my head (sorry nonna) it’s the truth.

Well now I DO like them, turns out grandma was right, but I’m not eating rice (or any other starchy nonsense for that matter). What to do?

Luckily God gave us cauliflower and though some of the applications I’ve seen within the keto kommunity make me question the sanity of the cooks, cauliflower DOES make a good rice substitute.

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Lil’ cauliflower
Best buds for all time and space
Takes the place of starch

 

Anyway, looking in the fridge and seeing an abundance of garden-fresh peppers and some ground beef brought me to this place: making a low carb version of what is, rice-aside, a reasonably healthy and cheap dish. With a little ingenuity, and a hungry wife whom I fear would stab me were I not to come up with dinner quickly, I set out to work. This is what I came up with:

 

Keto Stuffed Peppers
Paleo, low carb, gluten-free, easily modified to be vegetarian or vegan

6 large green peppers
1 lb ground beef (if going the veggie route, you could easily sub in tofu or walnuts)
1 medium head cauliflower, broken down and riced in a food processor
4 cloves garlic
2 cans of tomatoes and green chili peppers (look for ones without added anything – just peppers and tomatoes)
1/4 cup of low carb tomato sauce like Rao’s, or you can blend up whole canned tomatoes (you’ll need to add more salt most likely)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter or coconut oil
hot sauce (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by boiling the peppers and preheating the oven to 350. I cut the tops off and core/de-seed them first, but you don’t have to. It makes them cook a bit faster – about 7 minutes is what it took for me. You want them pliable but not mushy. While the peppers are boiling, add the butter to a pan and brown your beef. If you’re using tofu or walnuts, you can skip this step, but toasting the walnuts would be something I would highly recommend. Once the peppers are done, drain them and arrange them, hole-up, in a large dutch oven or high-sided baking dish. Add the olive oil to a pan and, after mincing the garlic, toss that in there to saute for a few minutes, then add in the cauliflower rice. Salt and pepper the rice liberally, and if you want, stir in some hot sauce, too. Once it’s cooked and started to soften (about 7 minutes), turn off the heat and stir in the ground beef. After it has cooled for a few minutes, stir in the tomatoes and chilis, and stuff the peppers. You may have some stuffing left over, and if so, just put it around the peppers in the pan. Pour some tomato sauce over each pepper and any remaining sauce around your stuffed beauties, and bake in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Pop the dish out of the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. These things hold onto heat like little green lava globes, and if you’re not careful you might burn your mouth and yell a bunch and then your wife might say something like “I told you so you putz” and you might say back “ah buh ma ton oh gah it hurs u wah rye” and she might smile smugly while you cry.
To be clear: LET THEM COOL FIRST.

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Keto stuffed peppers

Macros:

Serving size: 1 pepper stuffed with 1 cup of stuffing
Calories: 353
Fat: 24.4 g
Carbs: 18.5
Fiber: 5.1
Net Carbs: 13.4
Protein: 16.6
Potassium: 724 mg
Magnesium: 10% rda
Sodium: 520 mg (this will vary on how much you salt of course)

Delicious, nutritious, and full of vitamins and nutrients, not to mention cheap and easy. You can even freeze these little fellas and pop em in the oven for later. So with a bumper crop of green peppers in the garden, you now have at least one more recipe in your arsenal for keto-friendly deliciousness.

Keto Cinnamon-Vanilla Walnut Butter

Low carb cinnamon-vanilla walnut butter

Almond Butter Is Too Expensive

There, I said it. Everyone THINKS it, but I’m done living in the shadows. No more will we be oppressed by high nut butter prices, especially when it’s insanely easy to make them at home yourself. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s mostly hands-free, with the exception being a few scrapes down the side of your food processor every five minutes or so. That said, I’m also tired of almond butter. I don’t much care for almonds – I’ll eat them, but I’m not overly excited at the prospect – but every paleo or keto blog or recipe I see that extols the virtues of almonds has lead to burnout for me. No more, go away, I’m done.

Enter the walnut!

Walnuts are spectacular for low carb dieting, as well as paleo, or simply for regular people wanting an extremely healthy fat in their diet. Walnuts are full of omega-3s, folate, magnesium, and have a strong link with increasing brain health, particularly in inferential reasoning (in adolescents especially). This is perfect because honestly they look like little brains:

See? This picture is Cartesian, spooky, AND delicious. Brain in a jar!

Plus walnuts are just simply delicious. Give this walnut butter a try when they’re cheap and plentiful during the summer and fall – fresh walnuts are divine, though you can also do this without breaking the bank when walnuts are on sale for holiday baking. The beauty is that crushed or chopped walnuts are usually fairly cheap, as people want whole ones for pretty cookies. We don’t; we don’t care what you look like, walnuts, keto loves you just the way you are.

You can season them any way you want; I chose vanilla and cinnamon because those are the best flavors, but you can choose a lesser set of spices if you want.

Walnut Butter Ingredients

16 oz raw walnuts
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Pyure sweetener (you can add more to taste, but I don’t recommend more than 1 tbsp at a time)
2 tbsp coconut oil

Start by gathering up your walnuts. Here I chose peak-of-the-season, organic walnuts picked straight from my grandfather’s ancient grove:

Don't need no fancy walnuts
Only the finest plastic bag was used to contain these heirloom walnuts from the store that I bought on sale.

Just kidding; these were chopped walnuts on deep discount from Aldi. Though my grandpa does have walnut trees, so I’ll be pilfering some in the summer. If your walnuts come a little bit bigger and more orderly than these (which were pre-chopped), you can break them down a bit to get them to fit in your food processor a little better, but you don’t really need to.

Before we start to grind them, we’ll give them a quick toasting:

The benefits of two cast iron skillets cannot be stressed enough.

You don’t want them to burn, so keep it at medium-low heat and make sure you’re tossing them around every couple minutes. Also to ensure even toasting, I separated my pound of walnuts into two pans, each with one layer of nuts. Toast for about 8 minutes, then toss them in a bowl and stick them in the fridge for a few minutes, just long enough for you to set up your food processor.

Pour your walnuts into the bowl of the food processor, and start on low speed. If you have a grind option, maybe use that, but I just used the regular chop option and let it run. At first, it’s going to grind them into meal, and it will creep up the sides, so your first few scrapes down the sides of your processor will happen relatively quickly after you’ve started. Let them blend, taking care to keep an eye for side-creep and scraping accordingly, for about 5 minutes. At this point, it should start to get pasty. You’ll add in your coconut oil now; this will help ensure it keeps a creamy consistency (and you can’t taste it). Blend for another 5 minutes.

It should look something like this:

Paleo/Keto Walnut Butter
Not quite there, but getting close!

 

At this point, add in your spices. As I said, I used cinnamon and vanilla, but you can use anything that’s reasonable. Not nacho cheese or cool ranch, please – pretty sure you can go to jail for that.

I also used Pyure sweetener. It’s stevia-based, and it doesn’t have that weird aftertaste that pure stevia has, nor does it have that odd cooling mouth-feel that pure erythritol has. I highly recommend it:

Not pictured: me spilling that little thing of vanilla a wee bit.

Now you’ve spiced and oiled your walnut butter, we’re in the home stretch. Continue blending for another 10 minutes, scraping down the sides as you need to, though at this point it should be good to go on its own. After 10 minutes, give it one more good scrape and blend for another 5 minutes, or until it reaches your desired consistency. I was done after about 17 minutes total, but mine were already broken down when I started.

Voila! Your very own walnut butter that took little effort and cost essentially half what you’d pay for a comparable store-prepared nut butter. I’ve found that cashew, walnut, and pecan butter are even more expensive than almond and that’s if you can even find them in stores. This has the added benefit of no sugar and no artificial weirdness. It’s toasty, spicy, and perfectly sweet.

Delicious, keto, paleo-friendly walnut butter.

Walnut Butter Uses

What can you do with it? Well anything! Use it for recipes where you would use peanut or almond butter, spread it on apples if you’re eating apples, or just eat a tablespoon when you’re craving something sweet. One of my favorite snacks is 2 tablespoons mixed in with some plain greek yogurt and a pinch of Pyure. It’s perfectly sweet, has a good dose of protein, and it’s not a carby mess like store-bought flavored yogurts.

When summer comes along, I’ll be doing a recipe spot on pecan butter. I LOVE pecans, and it’s a little bit different to make than other butters, but it’s so worth it.

How will you use your new keto walnut butter?