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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Indian Cauliflower Rice with Tandoori Chicken

Hello fellow foodies and bloggers – long time no see, or in my case cook!

It has been a little while since I stopped to chat to you all – with my chief tester away in South Africa for three weeks; I didn’t have anyone to cook for except myself. And if any of you out there live alone, you will know what I mean when I say that cooking for one is not too inspiring!

I certainly didn’t bake for myself – and although my work colleagues thought I could have baked for them – I think I had lost my baking ‘mojo’ for that period of time.

This week I went to my GP for a check-up and review of some recent blood tests. These showed a couple of unhealthy markers – and before I knew it I was agreeing with him that losing a few pounds would be a good thing 🙂

Now, not only should I not be baking delicious cakes & cookies; but I need to give some thought to the low carb options, more fresh fruit and exercise! arghhh

So armed with a whole chicken already out for dinner; I set about considering what do make instead of the lovely roast potatoes, and roast chicken with gravy that had been on the menu. For me the most important thing is that food should taste amazing…the aroma of a good meal cooking is essential; and then it has to look good too. Who doesn’t eat with their eyes?

Tandoori Marinade for the chicken seemed like a good idea – along with some Cauliflower Rice. If you haven’t worked it out, the cauliflower rice is the low-carb option! so now all I needed to do was make it tasty.

To marinate a whole chicken (or 4 chicken pieces)

  • 1/2 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp onion powdertandoori-chicken
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

 

  1. Whisk all of the ingredients together, and coat your whole chicken (or pieces) well. Allow to marinate at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  2. Cook chicken on a grill rack in the oven for 30 minutes each side, or until cooked through.

 

 

 

indian-spiced-cauli

Indian Spiced Cauliflower Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a head of cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 carrot, peeled, and Julienne them
  • 125g pineapple pieces
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped parsley to garnish
  1. Rinse your cauliflower, slicing it in half down the middle. Roughly chop and place into a food processor . Pulse in one-second intervals until the cauliflower  pieces are about the size of grains of rice.
  2. Mix all of the spices together and mix through the cauliflower. Set aside while you prepare the pan.
  3. In a large pan heat the butter and olive oil. When it is hot, add all of the cauliflower and carrot, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Just as the cauliflower is starting to feel tender, add the pineapple pieces to heat through.
  5. Take off the heat, and toss the chopped parsley through the pan.

(I pulsed a whole cauliflower and put half into a freezer bag  to save for another meal – 1/2 a head makes more than enough for two – in fact there was left over of the cooked ‘rice’for my lunch tomorrow!)

Tandoori Chicken meal.png

 

I added broccoli to our meal – got to get those 5+ vegetables in per day somehow! and a dollop of my Eggplant Kasundi just because it seemed like a good match.

All in all the chief tester thought it was delicious, and I will definetely be making cauliflower rice again as a healthy alternative to starchy rice or potatoes.

Give it a  go – it was not only quick and easy to put together, but tasty too! And I suggest the children would not even suspect the ‘rice’ was cauliflower making this a perfect way to  introduce  more vegetables in for them too 🙂

Happy cooking xx