Thursday, March 21, 2013

Simple Moroccan Lettuce Cups or Lettuce Wraps

Even when you're stress and times are tough, you can eat low carb.

Cook Once - Eat a Bunch (of times)!
Well, I’ve told you life here is rather stressful. And yet, I realize I’m not alone. I think you, too, may have just a wee bit oh-the-stress on your plate. Am I right?

So our challenge is this—when we’re too tired (just too damn pooped after a hard day at work, after taking care of your family, after taking care of the house, after possibly being sick…fill in your blank here)…what in they hayull (Texan for WTF) is a sane low carber sposed to do about keeping the carb monster at bay and getting good, healthy food on a plate?
Well, I’m not claiming I have it all-together and all figured out in this department. Cuz I don’t. (That should be in all caps for emphasis.)

But I’m doing these things which seem to be helping.

Maybe they will help you?

1. Cook once – eat many times
Our moms used to call them leftovers. I call them re-dramatizations or re-creations cuz why say 3 syllables when 6 sounds more impressive?

Yes, I cook a base of some flavor, then use it to make a meal in 15 minutes or less using that base in a new way. It’s re-created, re-dramatized, re-purposed. Morphed.

An example? You want a freakin’ example????

Ok. Here's this weeks example. I tripled the Lettuce Wrap recipe. It tripled well.

(i.e. Moroccan Ground Beef Base—see recipe below:)
Day 1 – Moroccan Lettuce Cups (i.e. Morrocan Low Carb Tacos using lettuce for the shell)
Day 2 – Moroccan Stuffed Peppers
Day 3 – Moroccan Flatbread Pizza
Day 4 – Moroccan Egg Scramble Mess

Now, I spose I coulda put the purposeful leftovers in the freezer. I say purposeful because I intentionally cooked more than we needed, intending to have leftovers. But I knew this week would be crazy and I know I still don’t feel well (the lymphedema in the arm and surgical/chemo pain continue to rage like a wildfire out of control). And I knew I needed to re-install the “EASY” button in the kitchen. And it’s worked. Dinners in 15 minutes or less each nite. Happy Susie, Happy Denny, and whiney sock monkeys and friends.)

2. Remember that sometimes a meal is just something nutritious to fill the void and end the hunger.
This is maybe the toughest notion for me to grasp, cuz you know, I LOVE to cook and create and play in the kitchen. It’s usually my therapy—just not when you’re dead pooped.
So…what does that mean? It means you stir-up a batch of scrambled eggs, throw some leftover ground beef (fill-in-your-flavor-here), cut up some mushrooms and add them as you’re re-warming the beef in the pan, pour in the eggs and scramble them, throw in some baby spinach and grape tomatoes at the end and a handful of your favorite cheese. I used feta. Serve it with half of one of my low-carb flatbreads drizzled with olive oil and parmesan cheese and poof! You have a filling and delicious meal without thinking or planning.

Also, remember Brinner (Breafast as Dinner) is a wonderful thing. Prefer fried eggs? No sweat, make fried eggs, nuke some bacon, throw a handful of grape tomatoes on the plate and call it a dinner. 10 minutes start to finish. Or make one of my easy biscuits and make a McDinner Egg, Bacon, Cheese Sandwich!

3. Have some kind of salad ready in the wings for those days when you’re starved and just can’t wait to get dinner on the table or else…you’re too pooped to pop.
I keep canned salmon and canned chicken and lately I decided to re-introduce canned tuna (Sshhh. Yes I admit it) for emergencies. And I ALWAYS have mayo made in the fridge (or you can use a store bought), always have Greek yogurt, and always have sour cream and always have my House Vinaigrette made up and waiting. I have a pantry full of spices and always have onion, green onion, celery, baby carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, red bell pepper, and baby spinach in the ice box for this purpose.) Oh and I always have hard boiled eggs ready.

This way I can stir up a batch of quick salad and serve it on a bed of salad or in simple lettuce leaves or stuffed in an avocado or tomato. Simple easy. No sweat. No brainer.

4. This next meal is more of a cop-out when the pizza guy lies waiting just a phone click away.
And to keep him away…when I’m at my absolute most down-trodden, I remember, sometimes a meal is a snack. Which means, nah, don’t go cook. Go scavenge. That’s right. I scavenge. Things that work?

Pepperoni nuked to make chips. American cheese slices (I use Boar’s Head), cut into 9ths and nuked for 45 seconds). 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. 2oz of cheese sliced (various kinds, but we LOVE St. Andre and Gouda for their high-fat and high K-2 levels in the Gouda. 1 oz of Crispy Nuts (walnuts or mac nuts) if we’re not having the peanut butter. Add some celery sticks, or grape tomatoes, or blanched green beans or something. A can of sardines, a bottle of Yellow Mustard, pork rinds and baby carrots...Poof. Done!

Heck sometimes I take a hunk of cream cheese and douse it with Pickapepper or Sriracha Sauce and use it for a dip. Tastes great with pork rinds.

By the time we’re done, we’re full and not interested in eating anything else.

5. And when all else fails remember nut butters.
Make a quick dinner of 2 tablespoons nut butter (I use peanut sue least it's Laura Scudder's Organic Creamy), 1/2 apple, 1 once of string cheese and done! If we're still hungry after that I toss everyone a cold hard boiled egg and roar at em to "Stop ya belleh achin!" That usually quiets the crew.

My sissy Khakki with her sock monkey nephews.
She brought them sock monkey sized bananas.
They love her dearly. She's like that.
And so in addition to my Rotisserie Chickens and Bone Soups I make with the carcasses, these are what I’ve been feeding the Fluffy Chix Crew. I must admit “the boys,” (You remember our sock monkey boys right? Buddy, Tony, Kevin, Schylling, Zippy and their little dog WeeWee and WeeWee’s baby, Skeeter and Stretch their giraffe) are not jiggy with all this stuff-on-the-run or having a pooped-mom.

And they repeatedly question when I plan to fix a dinner with an all-banana theme. Their favorite chant is, "All bananas. All the time." But they make-do and eat what I put in front of them!

What are some of your time saving low carb meals and tips? Share with the class here in our comments or on our facebook page. You can find us on facebook by clicking on the link over to the right hand side of this page!

Happy Non-Cooking!

Moroccan Spice Blend
Prep Time – 8 Minutes
Cook Time – None
Makes 29 teaspoons (9 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons)

Use Moroccan spice blend on many different proteins, or
make my Morrocan Lettuce Wraps with it! Yum!
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds, toasted, or 2 teaspoons ground
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds, toasted, or 2 teaspoons ground
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon anise seed, ground
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
1. In small sauté pan, over medium high heat, toast cumin and coriander seeds. When you start to smell the aroma of the toasting seeds, remove from heat and blend in a coffee grinder. (Most of the time I just use pre-ground spices as a cop-out and time-saver.)
2. Combine all ingredients with the ground cumin and coriander. Mix well and store in an air-tight container.

Per Serving: 7 Calories; trace Fat (28.6% calories from fat); trace Protein; 1g Carbohydrate; 0.483g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 133mg Sodium; 0.52g Net Carbs per teaspoon (about the same as granulated garlic).

Serving Ideas: Use it on veggies or meats as you would any spice. It’s great as taco seasoning on ground meat and onions. Yum!

Susie’s Notes:
Yes, Virginia, this are A LOT of ingredients in this blend! But I either get them from the $1 for a buck, or else, I buy them in the bulk spice section and it’s just a few pennies per bag of stuff. Each spice brings a different "note" to the table and adds to the harmony of the blend.

It takes about 5 minutes to assemble and measure it all out and another minute to mix it up. Then I use an old spice jar and pour it in and I’m done for a few months. I use it as I would “Taco Seasoning” that I make up and keep stored as well. It doesn’t have any sugars or dextrose in it, no preservatives, no sand, no unpronounceable ingredients, and no polysorbate80—whatever that is! So it’s worth trying. Swearsies!

Moroccan Lettuce Wraps
Recipe By:   Susie T. Gibbs
Preparation Time: 10 Minutes
Simmer Time:  10 Minutes
Start to Finish Time: 20 Minutes
Difficulty:  So easy the sock monkeys make it for us (under duress)
Serving Size: About 2 1/2 cups Yield: 4 Servings

This is a Moroccan taco! It's so good, so easy, you'll want leftovers.

Easy Moroccan Lettuce Cups can be on the table in 15 minutes.
  • 1 pound ground beef, 80/20, raw
  • ½ medium red onion -- chopped
  • ½ medium red bell pepper -- chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Moroccan Spice Blend
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • ½ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons sambal oelek -- or Sriracha Sauce
  • 12 bibb lettuce leaves -- washed and dried, whole
  • 8 grape tomatoes -- quartered
  • ¼ cup red onion -- chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro -- chopped
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • ½ large avocado

Per Serving: 466 Calories; 35g Fat (67.4% calories from fat); 26g Protein; 13g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 109mg Cholesterol; 1154mg Sodium; 9.75g Net Carbs.

Serving Ideas: Serve these tacos as a stand-alone meal; 3 per person!

SusieT's NOTES:
This is a seriously delicious meal ready in minutes--especially when you have the Moroccan spice blend ready in the pantry. It's a simple as browning ground hamburger!

This tastes like exotic food. You don't taste the allspice, nor the nutmeg or cloves. You get some overtones of cinnamon along with spicy cumin and coriander. It's just delicious. Hope you will try it! Honestly, I could eat them every day.


  1. Awwww - your sis and her "nephews" are too cute! And YOU are a great, funny, insightful writer!

    1. MUAH! Thank you. You may remain here. You will be safe from the Cracken.


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