Zucchini Bake – A Low carb pasta bake with no pasta!

A low carb pasta bake with no pasta? How is that possible?

Simple, really, replace the pasta with zucchini rounds – and if you add the zucchini at the last minute it holds its shape and texture. No soggy zucchini – slightly al dente /ælˈdɛnteɪ – cooked to be firm to the bite.

I have been on a weight loss journey for the past 6 months and this has made me look closely at how I cook and what I am cooking (and eating). Some drastic changes to the family menus have been a result, including cutting out most carbohydrates!

Now, before you run for the hills – let me reassure you, it is very possible to enjoy a satisfying meal without pasta, or potatoes…I promise.

After nearly 6-months I have lost 27 kilos so far and with a goal of 40 kilos to lose, have past the halfway point. It would be wrong to say it has been very easy, because it has not been a breeze. However, it has not been that bad either!

I had a cervical spine injury last year which landed me in the public hospital system for 8 long days and nights. As part of my rehabilitation I had physio, acupuncture and cupping (I’ll tell you more about that another day) – I bought a treadmill and took up walking daily. I watched what I ate, but honestly never lost more than a couple of kilos.

A friend at work encouraged me to look at a low carb diet – a Ketogenic diet. And as they say, the rest is history as they say.

I am in the process of updating my family favourite recipes to be more low carb and therefore Keto-friendly. In the meantime why don’t you take a look at this Pasta Bake with no Pasta! It has just 7.3g net carbs per serve, is family-friendly and jolly tasty.

Ingredients: Serves 6

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • 450g good quality mince beef
  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 large zucchini, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Cooking directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C fan bake – heat oil and add onion cooking until the onion is soft. Stir in garlic and chili flakes and cook for one minute. Add mince and season with salt & pepper to taste. Cook for approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Add tomato paste & oregano. Cook for 2 minutes and then add tomatoes bringing sauce to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook until liquid is slightly reduced – 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in zucchini and basil. Season again with salt & pepper.
  3. In a large baking dish, place half of the mix in an even layer. Then add half of the spinach, and dollop half of the ricotta cheese over the top. Add 1/2 of the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses next. Repeat the layers.
  4. Bake until the cheeses are bubbling – melted and delicious! 25 minutes will do the trick.

Needless to say there will be leftovers if you are a small family of two like us! However this recipe does make enough for 6 hungry mouths making it a great family dish.

We’re back for seconds tonight with a side of roasted pumpkin and perhaps some steamed broccoli.

Happy dieting xx

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Leftovers again? What was I to do? Time to get a bit creative in the kitchen…..

I shared with you a recipe from a young friend who had lived in a student flat on a meagre income while he was studying. It was a delicious and heartwarming chicken stew made from the leftover roast chicken from Sunday night.

That 300 grams of leftover roast chicken made a really tasty dinner which we enjoyed very much – the chief tester declared it a keeper which is always a good sign. Great I thought – I’ll file the recipe away for another time. But what do you do when there is leftover chicken stew? This was becoming one of those ongoing dilemma’s for this household of just two.

I was lacking inspiration and very nearly resorted to making hot buttered toast and reheating the stew and calling that dinner. Nothing wrong with that as an option – but I’m one of those souls who prefers to eat something different every night. I’m not that enamoured of a meal repeated unless it is Lemon Croissant Pudding for two – Decadent Indulgence! of course and I could happily have this twice in a  row!

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I’m going to call this ‘Rustic Chicken Filo Pie’ – for the sake of my reputation within the family as a ‘not too bad cook’! Sounds fancy eh?

Seriously I took some store-bought filo pastry from the refrigerator, and that leftover chicken stew from the night before and voila!

Filo or phyllo is very thin sheets of pastry commonly used in Greek, eastern European and Middle Eastern cuisines. It can be used for sweet dishes and savoury, and is known to be a healthier alternative to a flaky pastry. The pastry is made from flour and water with fat in the form of melted butter, spread or oil brushed on the layers as they are assembled for your recipe.

Lay a sheet of filo on a clean bench and take a pastry brush and brush olive oil on the sheet – I find this easier than melted butter.

Fold a sheet in half and lay in the bottom of a pie dish – repeat with another sheet of filo pastry to ensure the bottom the pie dish is covered.

Spoon in your leftover chicken stew.

Oil another sheet of filo pastry and then ‘scrunch’ it up in your hand, and place it on top of the stew. Repeat s-3 times depending on the size of your pie dish.

Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and pop into a hot oven for 30 minutes or until hot through.

And thankfully this was the leftover roast chicken, transformed to that delicious chicken stew and then finally into the ‘Rustic Filo Pie’ finished!

Kidding aside, this is the sort of cooking our mum’s and nana’s did when we were younger. A Sunday roast chicken fed the family, and their was always something leftover for another meal. The carcass became stock for soup, and the leftover chicken meat made its way into a risotto or if we were really lucky into our school lunch box. A chicken sandwich was always so much nicer than jam or peanut butter one!

In this season of saving towards first homes, and one income while at home with the children, it’s not a bad thing to know how to save a few dollars. With a little thought it’s possible to do this with family meals if you get back to basics.

Happy leftovers xx

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