Monday, October 28, 2013

Sneaky Vegetables

I'm not a vegetarian. If you look around the blog, you'll see plenty of recipes with meat. But that doesn't mean I dislike vegetables, or think they are unimportant. Veggies are the most important part of a diet. I sometimes have a hard time with my vegetarian patients because too often these "vegetarians" live on rice, beans, and soymilk.

When I ask people, vegetarian or otherwise, why they don't eat more veggies, usually the problems are the time it takes to cook multiple vegetables, or the trouble fixing things the rest of the family will eat.

I have similar problems. My husband does a lot of our cooking, and he gets impatient with cooking several vegetable dishes. I often cook for others who are used to fast food, and are not used to eating vegetables. Here are some of the ways I creatively get veggies into people:

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

No Pasta "Lasagna"

So. . .I've started eating low starch. The switch has not been particularly hard, except for the times I crave a specific food, like lasagna. Now, I never made lasagna when I ate pasta--all those noodles get messy. I just made spaghetti and called myself happy. But the hubby (the Darling Beloved) needed an idea for lunch that we could make ahead and then heat up. So No Pasta Lasagna was born.

It has everything you could want in a meal--plenty of garlic, melted cheese, great veggies, a yummy sauce, and can be heated up over and over and it will only get better. There are plenty of variations you can do to make it your own, so don't be afraid to get creative!

This one has hamburger, because that's what the Darling Beloved likes in his lasagna. I'll go over possible substitutes at the end of the recipe.

Here's the list of ingredients you'll need:

  • 3/4 lb hamburger
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into strips
  • about 1-1 1/2 cups cooked spinach, squeezed dry
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in rounds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp dry oregano, or one or two sprigs fresh, leaves removed
  • 1 tsp dry basil, or a small handful of fresh leaves
  • 1 4-6 oz tub of pesto (you can make your own with this recipe
  • Several thick slices of mozzarella cheese, preferably whole milk from grass-fed cows
  • Salt to taste
  • Coconut oil and/or butter to saute the vegetables (the coconut oil will give the veggies a sweetness).

This recipe is odd for me because it has several steps, and you have to keep it all separate until the end. I did mix the peppers and zucchini, because it seemed easier. Keep them separate or not as you wish.

Saute all the veggies and the hamburger. I used coconut oil for the pepper/zucchini mix, and butter for the onions.

I measured the dry spices just for this recipe--usually I just toss them in whatever amount looks pretty. Cooking them with the onion made the onion prettier and made sure they got mixed in to dish well. I also tossed the garlic in with the onions after about a minute.

The spinach was already cooked, so I just squeezed it dry (NOTE: if you are smarter than me, you will have the spinach cooked and cooled before you start. Hot spinach hurts!)

Once you have all your layers cooked, including the hamburger, assemble your lasagna. I started with sauce, then kind of lost all sense. I did one layer of pepper-zucchini, then pesto, then spinach, then cheese,
then onion, then meat, then remembered the pesto and added it. I don't think the layers were orderly, but I got the thing full. I had to press it all down occasionally to pack it in.

Now, everybody into the oven! Since all the ingredients were cooked, and I knew we would be heating it up repeatedly, I just put it under the broiler long enough for the cheese to turn brown and gorgeous.


  1. I cooked everything separately in hopes of avoiding too much liquid from coming off the vegetables. The next time I make this, I may try roasting the vegetables instead of cooking them on the stovetop. The final product came out a little greasy for my taste, but the Darling Beloved loved it.
  2. Hamburger is not my favorite lasagna ingredient, and there are a few other things I like better than the ingredients above. So if I were making this dish just for me, I would make these modifications:
    1. Substitute fresh basil leaves and parmasan cheese for the pesto. (I'd just drink the pesto instead--I love it!)
    2. Use shredded poached chicken, turkey, or even portabello mushrooms for the meat portion.
    3. Mix feta cheese into the spinach (and I might use kale instead).
    4. I would use more zucchini and/or yellow squash, and some sliced or sun-dried tomatoes.
  3. Other ideas:
    1. Use butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and leeks for your veggies. Keep the garlic! Substitute sage or nutmeg (probably at least a teaspoon, probably more) for the basil/oregano--two very different taste choices, but I think either would be best. Use ricotta in the dish, and keep the mozzarella just for the top.
    2. For a more Mexican flair, add 1 T cumin and 1/4 t coriander to the spice mix. If you like heat, finely chop a jalapeno pepper or two and add it to the spinach. Serve with guacamole and sour cream.
    3. If you don't do dairy, you can either skip the cheese entirely, or make a tofu "cheese" the night before (it needs to sit to let the tofu absorb flavors). Use 1 tub of tofu, weighted and drained for a couple of hours. Mix in 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/4 t nutmeg, 1 T fresh parsley, and 2 cloves of very finely chopped garlic. Layer into the dish as usual, but be sure to cook the lasagna at least half an hour. 

Let me know if you have any other additions to suggest. I think this dish can be endlessly adapted.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mixin' It Up

Photo Credit: Teresa Y Green
Hi, everyone! I've been off this blog for a year now, and have really missed it. Where else can I put my pictures of food? A lot has happened food-wise in the past year, so it felt like the right time to bring the blog back up to speed.

For almost a year now, I've eaten gluten-free. Close to starch free, with a few notable binges on gluten-free starches that were not nearly as fulfilling as I imagined them. 

Now, I've looked at a lot of "gluten-free" recipes. If they work with baked goods, they seem like a lot of trouble to find something that "sort of" tastes like a gluten-y goody. Many people love these recipes, and for those that do, carry on. I find them too much trouble for the product. So I've opted for recipes that don't need gluten in the first place. (I have the same idea towards vegetarian dishes--why make a veggie dish to act like meat? Let the veggies be themselves. Then again, I'm not a vegetarian  so maybe the added variety from "mock meats" is more important when you limit your options.)

So here's the 2.0 version of the site: I will post recipes I love that are gluten-free, low starch, and real, clean food. Sort of Paleo, but I just hate the name Paleo, so not going to claim it. If you have anything you want to try but want someone else to burn it first, let me know. I may be up for the challenge. 

Thanks for the readership, and happy cooking!