Good morning (or afternoon or evening)! Welcome back to Flawed yet Functional! I’m Emily, type 1 diabetic, pursuer of my best health, and encourager of you to do the same! I use diet, exercise, and good habits to maintain good blood sugar control. Today I have an easy, tasty dish for you that works well as a side dish or base for any Mexican type of meat: Fajita Mexican Cauliflower Rice. Click through to check out this yummy recipe!
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Since beginning this AIP journey, I have become well versed in the various types of cauliflower rice because regular rice, while gluten-free, is not allowed during the AIP elimination period. You may not know this, but my husband is half Korean. Sticky white rice is near and dear to his heart. Giving up all grains to try to heal my gut and autoimmune diseases was no small sacrifice on his part. It is a testament to his love for me and his willingness to try that he gave it up willingly. Thanks, honey!
I have made cauliflower rice six ways from Sunday, and it amazes me how well it fits with a variety of dishes. In my opinion, it is better to acknowledge that riced cauliflower is not rice, and it is, in fact, cauliflower. While it is just cauliflower, it does a marvelous job as a filler or base for many dishes.
How to Rice Fresh Cauliflower
At the beginning of my AIP / paleo journey, I would rice cauliflower fresh from a whole head of cauliflower. My method for ricing cauliflower in a Vitamix is as follows:
- Chop the head in half and remove the woody stem.
- Divide each half into fourths then divide each section into florets.
- Place 4-6 florets into the Vitamix (or food processor) and chop (at about level 4), using the damper as needed, until all cauliflower is rice-like in size.
- Empty into a large bowl and repeat with the rest of the cauliflower florets.
- Each bunch of florets should take about 20-30 seconds. Be careful not to chop for too long as the cauliflower will turn to a paste at the bottom of the pitcher.
Ricing cauliflower in this method is not overly difficult, and it’s not even that time-consuming. It probably takes 10 minutes or less for the whole process. However, it’s one more thing. And more importantly, it’s one more device to clean.
Frozen Riced Cauliflower
So while fresh riced cauliflower is totally doable, and I have done it time and time again, frozen is so much easier! A penny pincher at heart, I could not stomach the 12 oz. bags of frozen cauliflower rice at the supermarket for $4. No way!
My love of cauliflower rice cooled for a bit until I discovered that Costco has riced cauliflower for under $7! If you know anything about Costco, you know their items usually come in large amounts. Frozen riced cauliflower comes in a large bag with 4, 12-ounce bags of riced cauliflower (source). Three pounds for $7! Whoa! What a deal!
Now that I have discovered Costco’s frozen cauliflower rice, we have it on the regular. It is so easy and quick to whip up as a side or a base for whatever I’m cooking. This recipe for Mexican cauliflower rice was developed with frozen cauliflower, but if it is not available by you, simply rice your own using the instructions above.
What Do You Eat With Cauliflower Rice?
Since I’m immersed in Paleo culture, my response to this question is what can’t you eat with cauliflower rice? I do realize this cauliflower rice phenomenon might be new to you though. Mexican cauliflower rice is seasoned to compliment Mexican dishes, so for this recipe, I recommend pairing it with a similar ethnic dish.
The best way to use cauliflower rice, in my opinion, is to use it as a base where you would have used flour/corn tortillas or rice. Top it with your favorite Mexican flavored meat add any toppings you desire and call it a day!
Need some ideas for Paleo-friendly Mexican meat dishes? Try out these tasty dishes!
Keto-Friendly Side Dish
Beyond the AIP and paleo diets, Mexican cauliflower rice is great for the keto diet too. Cauliflower, and the whole cruciferous family, is very low in carbohydrates. One serving of cauliflower rice has about 4 grams of carbs (2 net carbs). This recipe will be a tiny bit higher because of the additional vegetables, but if you’re just looking for a low-carb base for your picadillo, taco meat, or chicken fajitas this is your dish!
This easy keto Mexican cauliflower rice rings in at 5.2 carbs (2.7 net carbs). The addition of bell peppers has a few carbs. My current diet is low-carb, but not as low as Keto. I found that my vegetable-heavy AIP/Paleo diet was very hard to adapt to the keto level of carb intake. So if you are in the low-carb boat too, try out this dish to enjoy Mexican food again![thrive_leads id=’7546′]
Frozen Cauliflower Rice Tips & Tricks
Please note that this recipe was developed and is written for frozen cauliflower rice. The frozen cauliflower rice cooks quickly and has a much higher moisture content than fresh cauliflower rice. Err on the side of less water added to the dish as the frozen cauliflower releases a lot of moisture as it cooks. If you want your dish to be a bit drier remove the lid and let it cook for a few more minutes open to help dry out the rice.
There’s no need to thaw the cauliflower rice before cooking. I do pull it out of the freezer as I begin to cook the meal (5-10 minutes before cooking) so that I can easily break up the large chunks of rice, but even that is not necessary. If you have large chunks of rice that you cannot chop up, simply cover the pan with a lid and give it a minute or two to steam and soften. Then open the lid and give it a chop with a wooden spoon. The chunks should break up fairly easily.
So what could you do differently? Here are a few ideas I came up with, but let me know your other tips and tricks for cauliflower rice!
Any mild-flavored oil can be substituted for the olive oil used in this recipe. Avocado oil and coconut oil are my go-to when I’m out of olive oil. I would avoid any infused oils or those with added flavors.
This recipe is very basic when it comes to spices, just chili powder and cumin. However, the Mexican flavor palette is much broader. Feel free to play around with the dried spices and fresh herbs to change the depth of flavor. Some awesome Mexican seasoning options are:
- All varieties of dried peppers – cayenne, ancho, chipotle
- Herbs – cilantro, basil, sage, and thyme
- And many more
Experiment and find a new flavor palette that you love!
When eating the cauliflower rice as leftovers, you might find that there is not quite enough for the whole family. Grab whatever vegetables you have in the fridge and toss them in with the cauliflower rice. Cauliflower rice is extremely versatile and mixes with most vegetables.
Try out this Fajita Mexican Cauliflower Rice the next time you want to limit the carbs in your Mexican meal! This fajita rice cooks up very quickly and can be a quick addition to any meal as a side dish or use as a base in a taco bowl. Enjoy![thrive_leads id=’8031′]
Fajita Mexican Cauliflower Rice
Try this quick, one-skillet side dish to compliment any Mexican meal! It's Paleo-friendly and low-carb. The perfect base for a Paleo tao bowl!
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 whole red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 whole yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 whole onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 12 oz. frozen cauliflower rice
- 2 Tbsp. water
On a cutting board using a sharp knife, chop the onion and bell pepper into similar-sized pieces. Place dry spices (chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper) into a small bowl and set aside.
Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the olive oil and bell peppers. Cook, stirring frequently for 2 minutes or until some pieces begin to brown. Add the onion, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the juices release and onions are softened about 5 minutes.
Bloom the spices in the onion/pepper mixture. Pour in all the spices then stir and allow to cook for 30-45 seconds or until fragrant.
Add the frozen cauliflower and 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes. Stir a couple of times to make sure it isn't burning to the bottom. Add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if necessary to prevent burning.
After the 7 minutes, taste the cauliflower for doneness and seasoning. Add salt as needed. Serve with your favorite Mexican meat!