In the (Lunch) Bag: High Protein and Gluten Free Baked Spaghetti

One of the foods I missed most when I had to give up gluten was pasta. Not just any pasta, but the higher-protein, stick to your ribs varieties. The typical gluten free stuff made from high glycemic rice or corn just didn’t do it for me.

And then I discovered this stuff.

Look for it on Amazon.

Look for it on Amazon.

Yeah, it sounds weird. And it looks even weirder (my students always think it has squid ink in it!). But it tastes great, cooks easily and….drumroll, please….has over 20 grams of protein per serving! Yes, please:)

This week’s recipe was one I invented on the spur of the moment after once more looking to see what needed to be used from my kitchen (the pasta pictured above, a half used bag of chopped sundried tomatoes and a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes) and the produce on sale this week (zucchini and bell peppers).

I was also limited to one small pot and one large skillet that is also oven-safe as well as only a few available spices. I got a little crazy packing up the kitchen last week:)

Baked Spaghetti

1 package Explore Asian Black Bean Spaghetti

4 cloves garlic, chopped small

1 onion, diced

2 red, orange or yellow bell peppers, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

3 medium zucchini, cut into small pieces

8 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced

4 oz julienned sundried tomatoes

28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp basil

1 tsp oregano

16 oz part skim ricotta cheese

4 oz mozzarella cheese

olive oil

Cook the pasta according to package directions and set aside. Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent. Add the zucchini and peppers and cook until the moisture is cooked of the zucchini. Add the mushrooms, sundried tomatoes and spices and stir for a couple more minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced (about 7-8 minutes).

The veg.

The veg.

Remove from heat and stir in pasta and ricotta cheese.

The pasta does look pretty funny:)

The pasta does look pretty funny:)

Move to an oven-safe dish, if needed. Sprinkle mozzarella on top. Bake at 350, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

All done!

All done!

I would have loved to have some green beans or broccoli as a side dish, but they were overpriced and looking puny. So, I’ll just add an apple to end the meal and to keep the doctor away!

 

The Perfect Summer Lunch

photo-257The tomatoes are beginning to ripen, their plump red flesh whispering promises of the juicy sweetness within. The basil plants are full, green limbs reaching towards the warming sun. The sultry air forbids the oven or meals prepared over a hot stove, asking instead for cool and simple meals that can enjoyed in the shade.

One of my favorite summer meals is a higher protein version of the ubiquitous caprese salad followed with some fresh blueberries. This meal is light yet filling and takes almost no time to prepare. By replacing the usual mozzarella with cottage cheese, the protein is increased and the fat, decreased.

Higher Protein Caprese Salad

3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese

2 ripe tomatoes, sliced

6 basil leaves

a drizzle of balsamic vinegar

Caprese salad made with 2 oz mozzarella: 242 calories, 13 grams fat, 16 grams protein

Caprese salad made with 3/4 cup lowfat cottage cheese: 194 calories,  5 grams fat, 22 grams protein

1 cup blueberries: 83 calories of complete yumminess:)