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


Book Review -The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Book Review: The Memory Keepers Daughter – Kim Edwards

The ‘chief tester’ and I have snuck away for a few days R & R to a rented beach house on the Coromandel. When you can not remember the last time you took a long weekend away from the office, home and your busy everyday life; you must know it is time to take a break!

Labour Weekend is traditionally not the best of weather anywhere in New Zealand however I don’t really mind if it is raining where we are; it’s not home where there is a multitude of jobs that could be done. A house that could do with spring cleaning, to lawns that need edging and dogs that could do with a bath; you can probably tell that escaping to the beach even if the weather is not the best is very attractive!

We are in Tairua; about 2hours drive from our home on the North Shore of Auckland. Tairua is a destination town with lovely beaches to enjoy and at this time of the yea, it is still relatively quiet with the holiday houses sitting empty waiting for the summer holidays to fill up.

One of the things I like about renting a holiday house other than the obvious escape from the big smoke is that there is usually a stack of well-read books and magazines left by previous holiday-makers. And this little house was no different –and to my delight reading the blurb on the back cover immediately drew me to turning the book over and finding the beginning of the story.

I settled into the comfy sofa with a cup of green tea and the ‘chief tester’ soon realised that I was lost to his conversation and engrossed in a novel that began on a winter night in 1964.

Norah & her husband David are expecting twins – labour starts early, and with a blizzard preventing Norah’s doctor from making the delivery; David, an orthopaedic doctor at the local hospital is forced to deliver his own babies. A little boy comes first, and then a girl; when David looks at the baby girl he sees she has Downs Syndrome and makes a decision that will have an impact on his life and his families for years to come.

He asks the nurse to take the baby away to an institution but instead she disappears to another city with the baby girl where she raises her as her own.

The novel takes you on a journey that spans 25 years – David develops a passion for photography and over the years seeks solace in his camera as he tries to make sense of his life through the images he captures. Norah who never forgets her daughter, and carries the burden of her ‘death’ for years and the little boy, Paul who grows up feeling not good enough for his father.

You will journey the life of the little girl and the nurse who raises her – and her struggle with the secret that changed her life too.

‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ is a poignant family story that centres on one individual’s startling decision that affects the people he loves the most. I read it from cover to cover, not wanting to put it down so intrigued was I to read what happens to the two families.

As Jodi Picoult (a favourite author of mine) says: “crafted with language so lovely you have to reread the passages just to be captivated all over again….this is simply a beautiful book…”

Lessons from this novel?: I thought how far society has come with our attitudes towards people with Downs Syndrome since the 60’s. Could you imagine giving your child up to an institution because of this today? The progress is thanks to the parents of children with Downs Syndrome who refused to accept their child had any limitations to living a full life.

I’m sure we have some way to go to fully integrate into our communities those individuals who have a disability – however we are still light years ahead of the 1960’s when this novel was written. And thank goodness for that!
Day One of our holiday break complete and one novel read from cover to cover! I can see two dogs and the ‘chief tester’ looking at me as if to say ‘are you done yet’ – a walk on the beach is the next order of the afternoon those 6-eyes are telling me so I had better get up and find my sneakers!

Happy reading xx


Ps…my 2016 Reading Challengehas been a struggle but this novel has inspired me to find another book from the list – and with 4 more days of this holiday left time is on my side for a change 🙂