An article titled, “Endangered Cuban Cuisine Preserved by Cooks in America,” by Colleen O’Conner was in the Denver Post today. I thought all three of the featured recipes looked like they would be easy to convert to low carb. Hmmm, somehow they looked strangely familiar–Oh, wait a minute, I already did that! A quick look though my recipe files turned up this one for Picadillo. (I have a flan recipe in Carb Wars too and I’m sure I also worked on a Ropa Vieja at some point. Still looking for that one.)

We may be able to travel to Cuba soon, but until then, we can celebrate our new Amigos by enjoying a taste of their distinctive cuisine.


This traditional Latin American stew is perfect for parties or buffets. I like to double the recipe and serve it from a slow cooker so it stays hot. Picadillo can also be used as a filling for empanadas, tamales, and fritters. (My recipe for Pumpkin Tamales, pictured above, is in Carb Wars.)

1 tsp bacon fat, lard, or light olive oil
1 lb grass-fed ground beef or pastured ground pork
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion, or green onion, white part only
1 large Turkish bay leaf
1/4 tsp ground true cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup freeze-dried, sugar-free cranberries
2 tbsp water
Sugar substitute of choice equal to 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce*
1 chayote squash or 1 medium rutabaga, peeled, chopped, and cooked**
1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
1/4 cup sliced black olives
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped almonds
Sour cream, chopped green onions, and chopped jalapenos, if desired, to garnish

Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add fat to pan. Add ground beef or pork, breaking it up with a spatula. Allow meat to brown without stirring, about 5 minutes. Mix in bell pepper, onion, bay leaf, cinnamon, cumin, and chili powder and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add garlic and continue to cook 2 minutes more.

In a small dish, place freeze-dried cranberries, water, and sweetener. Microwave until softened.

Add sweetened cranberries plus any liquid and tomatoes to ground beef mixture and simmer on low 20 to 30 minutes. Add cooked chayote or rutabaga, parsley, black olives, salt, and pepper and cook until heated through. Top with almonds and serve with sour cream, chopped green onions, and chopped Jalapenos, if desired.

Notes: *Choose tomatoes or tomato sauce in cans that state: “No Bisphenol A (BPA) in can lining.” (Cans that contain BPA are white on the inside.) Muir Glen’s® cans are not lined with the endocrine-disrupting plastic. The Kirkland® brand sold by Costco® comes in glass jars or you can substitute chopped, fresh tomatoes.

** To precook chayote, cut in half along the puckered seam and remove seed and core. Cut vertically into wedges and peel. Place wedges in a dish, cover with water, and microwave on high until soft, about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Alternately, cook in a saucepan with water to cover until soft.

**To precook rutabaga, trim, peel, and dice. Place in a saucepan, cover with water, and simmer until soft, about 20 minutes, or microwave with a little water on high until soft.

Makes 6 servings
1 serving contains: 258 calories; 14.7g protein; 19.2g fat; 2.5g fiber; total carbs: 6.8g; 4.3g net carbs 

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(c) 2015, Judy Barnes Baker, www.carbwars.blogspot.com

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Judy Barnes Baker

The working title for my first book was, “You’ll Never Know What You Are Missing.” It summed up my goal: to make eating for health synonymous with eating for pleasure. Once you discover the secret, you will find that the very best food for weight management, longevity, the treatment and prevention of disease, and over-all health and happiness is also the most sumptuous, satisfying, and indulgent way of eating the world has to offer. You are invited to the feast. Enjoy!
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Judy Barnes Baker
9 years ago

Thanks, Drew! It is a very pretty dish–usually anything made with ground meat is hard to photograph so that it looks appetizing.

9 years ago

The pictures alone make me want to try this. I'm excited to make it for myself.