When I was a kid, my mom loved to serve her family something she called "noodle roni:" a simple dish made of margarine (back when science told us it was healthier than real butter! Ugh!), macaroni noodles, and tomato juice. (I posted the recipe years ago; you can see it here.) It was a frugal meal, perfect for tight times. But to my mom's kids (including me!), who had no clue about household budgeting, noodle roni was simply a favorite. It was what we wanted when we were fighting a cold. It was comfort food. And years later, when I married and had kids, noodle roni became one of their favorites, too.
Then, near the end of 2017, after about a decade of feeling ill yet not getting real help from any doctor, I found a new M.D. who finally gave me some answers. "You're diabetic," he said. "I can put you on insulin and blood sugar lowering meds, or you can go on a keto diet." Keto? Or Needles? That was an easy choice! And it's a choice I've never regretted. While others I know are following the American Diabetes Association way of eating and progressively becoming more ill, my body is healing. Within months of starting keto, my blood sugar was normal (my last A1C was better than my doctor's), my autoimmune disease went into remission, my cholesterol and blood pressure normalized, and I lost 45 lbs. (Learn more about reducing blood sugar through a therapeutic keto diet here.)
But let's be honest: Going keto means giving up certain foods. It helps to know those foods are slowly killing you (!), but still, I missed noodle roni. Doing a little research online, I discovered most people don't call the dish noodle roni - they call it "goulash." Turns out, the dish is based on Hungarian stew and Americans have tweaked it into a tomato and noodle dish. I could have made the meal just by omitting the noodles: tomato juice, butter, and ground beef are all keto. But I didn't think it would be very filling. After a lot of time spent browsing Pinterest, I decided cabbage would make a good substitute for the noodles, rounding out the dish nicely.
My husband and I now actually think this healthy goulash is better than Mom's noodle roni. (Sorry, Mom!) My picky eater kids love it, too. So whether you want comfort food, or food to make you feel better when you're getting sick, or a frugal meal to fit into a tight budget, I hope you'll enjoy this healthy goulash, too!
2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (25 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or soy sauce, if not strict keto)
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cabbage, cored and sliced into thin strips
1. Place a large pot of medium-high heat and add the ground beef, breaking it into small pieces with a large spoon or fork.
2. When the beef is no longer pink, pour in the onion and garlic and sautée until tender.
3. Stir in the tomato sauce, tomatoes, coconut aminos, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
4. A handful at a time, add the cabbage, stirring well after each addition. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring once in a while (to prevent scorching), until cabbage is tender.
Nutritional Information: It's always smart to calculate your own nutritional information using the exact products you cook with. However, the approximate nutrition per serving for this dish is, according to LoseIt!: Calories 448, Fat 23.2g, Carbohydrates 12.8 g, Fiber 2g, Protein 35.3g