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!

 

On the Menu: Detox Green Soup

I was feeling the need to eat lightly this week. When I get that urge, I frequently turn to the amazing Detox Green Soup, which fills me up with nothing but veggie goodness. The chef evens dishes up a bit of marriage advice to go with the soup!

In no time flat, all of this

turns into bowls of this.

I rounded out the greens with slices of red bell peppers and cucumbers to dip in hummus and some nonfat Greek yogurt topped with blackberries for some extra protein.

I love lunches like these; I feel full, satisfied, and clean.

A Chickpea Triad

Some might see an entire menu centered around the lowly chickpea as overkill.  Not me.  I see it as inspired, creative, and adventurous.  Okay, I made that up.  Kroger had a great sale on chickpeas and I figured that if I was going to get out the food processor, I would make sure that I got enough use out it.

The Main Dish: Baked Falafel

This is another one from Appetite for Reduction.  (I promise I do own more cookbooks, but every time I open this one to make the recipe for one week, I spy one I want for the next.  Yes, it is THAT packed with good recipes.)  This is a really easy recipe that requires very little chopping (which is where the majority of my kitchen time usually goes).  You just throw everything in the food processor, form the result into patties, and bake.  I eat it with spinach, red onion, cucumbers, and tomatoes with a squeeze of lemon.  And, the best part for my crazy 15 minute lunch period, I don’t even have to reheat it!

The Side: Red Bell Pepper and Broccoli Hummus

The only problem with the above dish is that it does not contain enough veggies for me.  So, to make up for that, I made some broccoli hummus (gearing up the food processor again) and sliced some red peppers.

The Dessert: Cookie Dough Dip

I know what you’re thinking.  I said chickpeas THREE ways, and you’ve only counted two: falafel and hummus.  Your math isn’t off.  I stumbled across this recipe and I just had to try it.  Now, a more sane person would hold off until the menu was not already packed with the chickpea, but I never claimed to be sane.  It is a good thing this cookie dough dip is healthy, because it sure is addictive!

So, there you have it:  a main dish, a side, and a dessert all made from chickpeas!