I am my disabled husband's primary caregiver. Although a paid caregiver comes to our home every morning and stays for two hours, I'm on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week. My task list is never-ending. I race from one thing to the next, take care of my husband, do four loads of laundry, dust, mop, go to the grocery store (I go every other day), order prescription meds, and pay bills.

In addition to all of this I maintain a writing career. As the day progresses my pace slows, my eyes get itchy and red, and if I'm short of sleep, I become impatient and grouchy. While I feel guilty about this, I know other family caregivers get tired too.

My husband I have high blood pressure, so I try to serve healthy, low-salt meals. Since he is inactive my husband has little appetite. With the exception of standing for two minutes, and practicing walking (40-50 feet with a walker) he sits in a wheelchair all day. In recent weeks I've been serving him child-size meals and he never finishes them.

Cooking tasty meals, especially soup, is a challenge. I create original recipes and search the Internet for recipes that cold be adapted. One day I found a recipe for a taco casserole. I started with this recipe and substituted healthier ingredients.

Instead of a pound of meat, I used 3/4 of a pound. For a flavor boost I added a chopped yellow onion. I used reduced sodium taco seasoning. To compensate for small amount of salt I added chili power and cumin. Finally, I garnished the dish with shredded, reduced fat Mexican cheese, a blend of Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Queso Quesdailla, and Asadero cheeses.

I used a non-stick electric skillet for this recipe, but you could use a cast iron skillet instead. To round out the meal I served bread sticks and a fresh spinach and Mandarin orange salad, with a drizzle of poppy seed dressing. A tossed green salad would also taste good. Do not fret about dinner. A one-pan meal is just minutes away!

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon extra light olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

3/4 pound 90% lean ground beef

1 cup tricolor rotini (small tube pasta, or cut spaghetti)

1 cup frozen corn

1 (14.5-ounce can) diced tomatoes with juice

1 1/2 cups water

1-ounce packet 25% reduced sodium taco seasoning

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/8 teaspoon cumin

1 cup reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese

METHOD

Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in electric skillet. Add chopped onion and cook until soft. Add crumbled hamburger and cook until brown and done. Stir in all remaining ingredients, with the exception of cheese. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until pasta is done. Stir every so often while pasta is cooking. Spoon onto plates and garnish each serving with 1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese.



Source by Harriet Hodgson

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