If you’re looking for a way to get greens and veggies back into your diet after Valentine’s Day yesterday, I gotchu covered! These lettuce-wrapped chicken tacos are SO good! And super simple to make and customize to your exact liking! And the lime-cilantro cauli “rice” on the side takes these up a level.
Yes, I do eat real, white rice on occasion but also love having the option of something lower carb if I haven’t done as much physical activity in a day. Plus, the cauliflower gets so flavorful this way, you won’t even miss traditional rice!
One of the things I love most about tacos is the fact that they are so customizable! From which type of meat you use, to the toppings, everyone in the family can individualize their plates the way they want.
Some nutrition facts for your day: a cup of cauli “rice” has 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates versus a cup of white rice with 205 calories and 45 grams of carbohydrates. I firmly believe that carbohydrates are necessary for not only surviving, but thriving! Eating too low carb (especially for women) can cause metabolic stress and deplete energy levels.
That being said, carbohydrate intake should roughly match the amount of physical activity and stress levels during any given day. A lot of moving around and working out or high levels of stress raise the cortisol response in your body. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to physical and emotional stress (the body does not differentiate between the two). In an elevated state, high cortisol levels stimulate your liver to convert amino acids into glucose (readily available energy). If your liver doesn’t have much to pull from in terms of glucose (carbohydrates) then the body will feel lethargic and have a hard time recovering.
I have been following the Paleo diet for about 5 years now and have experimented with my own carbohydrate intake A LOT! In the beginning, I went incredibly low carb and it never seemed to work for me. I stayed this way for about 3 years and was a bit confused as to why my body composition was not changing in the way I thought it should. I was under the impression that if I cut my carbohydrates but still kept the same level of physical activity, that my body would begin using fat for fuel instead of glucose. Carbohydrates in the body break down to glucose, or sugar, that is readily available for the body to use.
Sure, there are different types of carbohydrates – simple vs. complex that break down at different rates in the body. In regards to the Paleo diet, though, most carbohydrate sources will be complex. These include items such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, plantains, beets, all types of squash, taro and even carrots. Compared to the Standard American Diet (SAD) that is filled with refined carbohydrates (simple carbohydrate sources), the Paleo diet is already much lower in carbohydrate content and it is important to make sure you are fueling properly for your cortisol levels.
After playing around with adding more carbohydrate sources back to my diet, in the form of sweet potatoes, some gluten free grains and lots of plantains, I have noticed I have more energy, sleep better at night and recover a lot faster from workouts! I have also noticed that my body composition has begun to shift favorably towards a more athletic build. Though you should always consult with your doctor or nutritionist professional before taking drastic measures with your diet, I encourage you to do some research on the positive effects of carbohydrates in the diet. This article and this one are great starting points to determine what your level of carbohydrate intake should be.
Hopefully, after some research you can decide for yourself if you need more carbohydrates in a day or not! If you do, this recipe would also work wonderfully substituting real rice for the cauliflower. Just cook white rice following instructions on the bag and add cilantro and lime at the end!
Now, for the fun stuff: FOOD! You could easily substitute beef or pork for the chicken. Instead of cubing the chicken, you could add it + spices to the crock pot, let it cook on low for 6 hours and then shred it. So many options here!
Paleo Lettuce Wrapped Chicken Tacos + Cilantro Lime Cauli “Rice”
(PALEO, GLUTEN-FREE, DAIRY-FREE, GRAIN-FREE, WHOLE30)
PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES COOK TIME: 25 MINUTES
For the chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. sea salt
2 heads romaine lettuce, or one head butter lettuce
For the cauli “rice”
1 package frozen cauliflower – riced (you can make your own but frozen is WAAAY easier!) – either frozen or fresh
1 tbs. coconut oil, avocado oil or ghee (I used CoCaVo which is a coconut avocado blend and it is amazing!)
1 tsp. sea salt
1 lime, juiced
Taco topping ideas:
Pickled or plain jalapeños
Cheese (if you tolerate dairy)
Sour cream (dairy if you tolerate, or lactose free)
Tostones (fried plantains)
1. Heat a large skillet and a large stock pot over medium high heat.
2. Cube chicken breasts into 1″ pieces.
3. Add chicken to large skillet with chili powder, cumin and sea salt.
4. Cover, and let cook, stirring occasionally until cooked all the way through, about 10 minutes.
5. For the cauli “rice” add oil to the large stock pot and then add cauliflower.
6. Cook about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally before adding salt, lime and cilantro – you want to brown pieces of the cauliflower to get some texture!
7. Remove cooked chicken and finished cauliflower from heat and set aside.
8. Prepare the lettuce wraps, either tear leaves from romaine or butter lettuce and place open faced on a plate.
9. Scoop chicken into lettuce boats and top with whatever you like!