Recipe Of The Week – Meatless Zucchini Roll-Ups

Only 3 days since the last blog…are you tired of me yet?

While brainstorming on some new things I could try on this blog, I decided to combine my obsession with 2 things: cooking and taking pictures of my food.

For those of you that are friends with me on FB (and most recently Instagram since I’m a late bloomer there), you know how culinarily obsessed I am. There is typically not a day that goes by that I fail to post some type of photo of something I’m eating…Unless I’m being forced to eat in the car. Let’s face it…a photo of a bag of chips isn’t exactly sexy.

So I decided to start posting a ‘Recipe Of The Week’. Some weeks there might be more than one if there’s something so incredible (and easy to document) that I feel needs to be shared with the masses.

So…how’s this ROTW thing going to go….well, for starters, most of my recipes aren’t exactly born from scratch in my brain (although some are). I am a Pinterest fanatic and I get a lot of inspiration there.

However, I never follow every step of a recipe. Whether it be that I don’t like the ingredients, or the original recipe wasn’t gluten free, or I’m missing a few things it called for, I always, always, always put my own spin on it. (Which doesn’t always work out, unfortunately….Ask Allen how ridiculously spicy my curry is every time I make it. Can’t seem to figure that one out.)

So I figured I would pick something I’ve made…link to the original recipe so you can decide what you like best (and to of course give props and proper credit to the person I borrowed the inspiration from). I’ll tell you what I changed, give you photos of the process, whether or not it was good and things I might do to improve it next time.

Sound good?

Can’t hear you so I’m going to assume your answer was yes…

Ok…before getting to this week’s recipe, here is the fine print/rules. (Yes…there are rules! What do you think this is? Spring Break?!)

1) No, I don’t know how many calories were in what I made. I might have an estimate based on what the original might have been but I have a terrible habit of just cooking by site and taste and not by measurement (which is why I’m a crappy baker). I also haven’t count calories since I went gluten free. Dangerous, yes. But 88 pounds later I can’t say it was the wrong choice. I believe in moderation and cutting calories in certain areas (i.e. the drinking the calories thing) so I can splurge in others. Sorry to disappoint you if nutritional information is what you were in search of.

2) Every recipe will be gluten free. Duh.

3) I am not an expert at vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, etc. I will not claim that any of my recipes fall in any of those categories (I will say ‘meatless’ if applicable) as I am not well versed in those areas yet. (Maybe one day?)

4) Cooking is a trial and error sport. (Hah…there are nights that I would consider it a sport.) I cook A LOT. A lot of the dishes I make turn out well and some don’t.

Best advice I can give you is to be patient with yourself. Keep trying. I’m a risotto master now because I made it for myself a lot in college until I mastered it. (And it took a lot of trying in order to conquer it, I promise.) Cooking is what you make of it and how much you enjoy it. Improvise with what you like and what you know works and have fun!

5) Let me know how it turns out if you make something I’ve posted! I’m obsessed with food and would love to know how others are enjoying something I so thoroughly enjoy too.

6) “Everything in moderation…including moderation.” ~ Julia Child

Ok, now to the good stuff….

Meatless Zucchini Roll Ups

Meatless Zucchini Roll-Ups

I’ve become meal planning obsessed so have themes for each day of the week to make my life a lot easier. (It makes planning a heck of a lot easier too!) It’s amazing how much less we’re spending on groceries and food in general each month. Here’s how our week typically goes:
Meatless Monday – Self explanatory
World Traveler Tuesday – Something international…Mexican, Thai, etc.
Down Home Wednesday – Something wholesome and Southern…a meat and 2 kind of meal.
One-Pot/Crock Pot Thursday – Less clean up…slow cooked deliciousness.
Fun & Frugal Friday – Something cheap and easy…Pizza, tacos, nachos, etc.
Free Saturday – Saturday is reserved as either our night to go out or to have leftovers.
Salad/Souper Sunday – Since it’s Fall I’ve been sticking to the ‘Souper’ part lately.

I made the roll-ups for dinner tonight. I love zucchini…I love cheese…I love lasagna. And this was a perfect combination of the three.

Here’s the original recipe: Meatless Cheesy Zucchini Roll-Ups – From Tried And Tasty

And here’s my version:

This was enough for 3-4 slightly hungry people or 2-3 hungry people.

Prep Time: 10-15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes (Depending on thickness of zucchini)
Rest Time: 5-10 Minutes
 

Ingredients:

2 medium sized zucchini
1 ½ c shredded mozzarella
½ cup part-skim ricotta
¾ cup low-fat cottage cheese (This is the secret to all good lasagna!! Try it!)
¼ cup fat-free sour cream
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes (this is of course optional if you don’t like spicy)
½ cup Parmesan cheese (divided)
2 cups Marinara/Pizza/Tomato Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste
 
The ingredients. Please excuse my picture taking skills...I'll get this lighting down sooner or later!

The ingredients. Please excuse my picture taking skills…I’ll get this lighting down sooner or later!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

After cleaning your zucchini, remove the ends and slice thinly with a mandolin. I have a really cheap one so the slices were a bit thick. The thicker the slices, the harder this is. If you have a heavy-duty vegetable peeler and a steady hand that might work to make these thinner.
A lot of my pieces ended up splitting in the middle so I had to piece them together when rolling which, while tedious, worked out ok.

Slicing the zucchini...

Slicing the zucchini…

Once you’ve sliced your zucchini, mix the roll-up filling in a small bowl. The original recipe called for Greek yogurt, which I have a love-hate relationship with. I always use cottage cheese in my lasagna and knew that’s what I wanted to use instead. I know it sounds weird but I promise it’s a perfect ingredient for this!
Mix the cottage cheese, ricotta, sour cream, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, ¼ cup Parm and ½ cup mozzarella cheeses.

The cheesy stuff...

The cheesy stuff…

In a casserole dish, place half of the tomato sauce in the bottom. (Yes I know it would have been better to make my own but wanted easy tonight!)

Lay your zucchini flat and ‘fill’. Place about a tablespoon on one end and roll. It’s that easy. Place each roll in the pan, top with the other half of the tomato sauce and pop in the oven.
You could use toothpicks if you wanted it to look super perfect. I didn’t feel like having to go back in and pick them out. Laying the roll-ups on the seam and packing them in there tightly worked like a dream.

The pre-roll pic...

The pre-roll pic…

Pre sauce...all rolled and cozy.

Pre sauce…all rolled and cozy.

Post sauce...still all warm and cozy.

Post sauce…still all warm and cozy.

Bake for 20 minutes (this will depend on the thickness of your zucchini. If it’s paper thin you need less time).

Top with the remaining mozzarella and Parm and bake for an additional 10 minutes. You can broil for a few minutes as well if you like your cheese browned. (Be sure to watch it!)

Let sit for 5-10 minutes after removing from the oven and enjoy!!

The final product!! Yummy!!

The final product!! Yummy!!

Would I Change Anything? Not really. This would be delicious with Italian Sausage or ground beef, but was tomato-y perfection without it. (The end result was a tad bit watery because of the zucchini but not enough to distract from the flavor…the longer you let it sit after it comes out of the oven, the better that gets.)

Would I Make It Again? Absolutely. It was easy and delicious!

Fork Factor picTry it out and let me know what you think!! Or let me know what you think of this new idea and anything you’d like me to add or take away.

Massaman curry is on tap for tomorrow’s dinner…fingers crossed that it’s not too spicy!!

Until next time…

Live Love Eat

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It’s Time for Some Turkey!

Happy Thanksgiving Week!  So much to be thankful for this year…so much that I’m not going to let a little (ok, so a lot of weight gain) get me down…

 

Damn you alcoholic beverages. Your empty calories sure know how to ruin a trip to the scale!

 

I’m not even going to pretend that it will be way lower next week. I’m not saying I’m going to stuff my face beyond the point of maximum gastric expansion, but I am saying that I plan to enjoy a fantastic meal. Well…fantastic meals. Having multiple families also means having multiple Thanksgivings.

At least I can safely steer clear of the dessert table this year – there will be no pumpkin pie or pecan pie being ingested for this girl! It’s all good…dessert is never my favorite part anyway. I’d rather have 4 helpings of brussell sprouts than a piece of pie any day.

We must avoid the food coma!!!

Need some additional tips for getting through the beaucoups of food this Thanksgiving…I’ve got you covered….Here are some phrases to help you say no to too much:

  • “Sorry, my tapeworm won’t allow me to eat pumpkin pie.”
  • “My religion forbids cranberry sauce.”
  • “No thanks. I happen to know that Cousin Marc licked all the rolls before dinner.”
  • “My doctor informed me that even one slice of pecan pie will make my spleen explode.”
  • “No thanks. I see dead people in gravy.”
  • “That stuffing looks delicious but it brings back hurtful memories of that sorority hazing incident that’s too painful for me to talk about…”
  • “I’m allergic to second helpings.”
  • “I don’t think so. Dad always buys his turkeys from some dude who sells them out of the trunk of his Grand Am along with bootleg DVDs…”
  • “I yam not gonna have any of those marshmallowy sweet potatoes, thank you very much.”
  • “I would have more, but you’re a terrible cook…”
  • “Do you have any diet wine?”
  • “No thanks… I had giblets for breakfast this morning.”
  • “No green bean casserole for me this year; I’m showing my support for the plight of Chilean green bean farmers.”
  • “No thanks. I saw Grandma spit into the mashed potatoes while she was making them.”
  • “I think that has gluten in it. Sorry, none for me!”

 

I’m going to just say no to over stuffing myself…but sure am thankful for how far I’ve come, how many of you have been here to support me, and how amazing I feel.

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

 

“Thanksgiving: Not a good day to be my pants.” ~ Kevin James

Don’t Discriminate

It is no secret that I love the Food Network. I want to be on it, I watch it constantly, and I could probably tell you more about the lives of the chefs on that channel than I can about Oprah Winfrey or George Bush.  Some people are obsessed with movie stars and famous athletes, while I’m busy stalking Alex Guarnaschelli, Aaron Sanchez and Giada DeLaurentiis on Twitter.

I want to secretly discover an invitation to participate on Chopped in my mailbox and would likely have a panic attack if I ever got into an elevator and saw Bobby Flay standing there.  But I have to be honest – the FN chefs like some gluten in their cooking.  I’ve tried to mentally come up with gluten-free versions of all the recipes that I see made, but the truth is, a channel devoted 100% to cooking is a shitty place to go when you can’t eat many of the things you see prepared.

What if a GF chef wanted to be a judge on Iron Chef? Or a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen or Top Chef? I just don’t think it’s possible. Imagine being a child of Paula Deen’s and having Celiac Disease? Would she acknowledge them?  I wonder if she’s got a secret daughter hidden off camera that was ousted for never being able to eat fried chicken or biscuits and gravy. Would Mario Batali disown his child for having to stay clear of pasta?

And so it got me thinking – why don’t we see chefs with Celiac Disease? Granted cooking GF is a niche thing, but there are plenty of shows on cooking for the vegetarian lifestyle that I’m sure non-vegetarians watch. I want to see something that I can enjoy! I want it GF and I want it now!  (And yes, that last sentence should be said with your best Veruca Salt impression.)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Why is All-Purpose flour the thickening agent choice for every chef that has a cooking show? Why not try corn flour or rice flour? Why can’t Rachael Ray dredge her chicken in cornflake crumbs instead of panko? I seem to remember a low-carb show….a low calorie show. How about a GF show? Hire me to do it!!

Stop discriminating against us!!! (Ok so I’m not saying it’s discrimination…just saying it would be nice to cater to all dietary needs every once in a while.) I will continue to watch the Food Network like it’s my job…and continue to secretly dream that it really was.

And while on the topic of cooking…I have a recipe that you really must try…if you’ve never had quinoa – this is certainly a great way to eat it!

 

Big thanks to Gluten Hates Me for the recipe! Amazing GF recipes and a fantastic blog as well!

____

As for the weigh-in – although slight, there was another loss this week.

 

Getting closer and closer to being under 200 for the first time in a long time…looking forward to celebrating that milestone with you!

 

Until then, you can find me in the kitchen…

 

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.

– Harriet Van Horne

The Gluten-Free Kid

Ugly part out of the way first…I can’t seem to get out of this 211-213 range…am I destined to be bulky forever?!

 

 

 My motivation has started to wane. I’m eating wrong – I’m eating too much…and by god I have to say that my digestive system has never felt better… Not that it’s any excuse to blow any semblance of a diet.

My old feelings of failure are starting to rise back up in my throat.  That awful horrid voice in the back of my head saying “Here you go again…you know you’ll never be skinny.” I can’t seem to get the nutrition part squared away right now. I love food far too much and am actually enjoying eating it and feeling pain free.  Dammit I love cooking!!! I cannot possibly explain the joy and ecstasy I feel when I’m standing in the kitchen creating an amazing gluten-free meal for myself. I lay awake at night thinking about all the ways I can reinvent dishes that I used to have in a way that won’t hurt my tummy.  If only I’d find a love for cooking cabbage and tofu instead of amazing variations of risottos and beurre blancs.   Here’s an example of both…one of the best dishes I’ve ever made! 

Pan seared scallops over risotto and roasted asparagus with a grapefruit beurre blanc - not low-cal, but it was delicious!

 

And speaking of cooking…I had an amazingly eye-opening experience this weekend.  I was in Charlotte for a housewarming party at my sister’s house.  Chili was on the menu, and to save her some time in getting all the other things together, I offered to make it.  For two reasons…1) I make a mean chili.  Wow…that was conceited. Let’s just say I know my way around the kitchen.  2) I wanted to control what’s in it so I knew it was ‘safe’. 

I’ve gone through a very distinct up and down with regards to food confidence.  I had such tremendous fear of cross-contamination and accidental glutening when I was first diagnosed.  Then I transitioned into a period of ease…comfort…I knew what I could have and didn’t question like I should have.  Then we come to my current state…distrust.  I don’t care if the menu states it’s gluten-free…or if I’m convinced that all that the dish contains is lettuce and red bell peppers…I don’t trust it if I didn’t make it.  The longer I go, the more I’m convinced that there are truly very few people that understand exactly what gluten is and how severe a reaction from even the slightest cross-contamination can be. I’ve gotten lazy about demanding to know every ingredient and I’m paying the price. At the end of the day, I’d rather do it all myself. I’d rather know that it wasn’t vegetable broth in a sauce or that someone didn’t grab a hamburger bun before plating my dinner.  I’d rather know that the mayonnaise is safe and that the prep surfaces were cleaned thoroughly. 

‘Chefing’ it up for the party was a success, and little did I know what a poignant experience my pot of chili would turn out to be….

One of the people that attended the party at my sister’s was a 10-year old named Marc.  Amazing kid…great sense of humor. And Marc has Celiac Disease.  

The look on his face when he knew he could eat the chili without fear, and the look on his face as he enjoyed his bowl is one that sticks with me now.  It makes me feel amazing.  I feel so blessed that I could help create that moment…that moment of trust in what you’re eating…that moment without fear of the unknown…That moment that I’ve lost when I’ve gone out to eat.

I can’t imagine coping with all of this as a 10 year old. How difficult it might be to prepare for unexpected birthday parties and food-oriented activities at school, church, and elsewhere.  How to deal with grandparents, babysitters, and “helpful” friends who offer gluten-containing foods…All without making them feel different. 

Marc handled the party much better than I’ve handled ones with unknown menus.  I saw him when he arrived and he didn’t have a look of shear panic like I’ve had when I’ve been unsure what was being served. He didn’t look like he was on the verge of throwing a temper tantrum like I’ve been if I find out there might not be anything ‘safe’ for me to eat. And for that, I admire him. 

I would love to get to know Marc better…I was diagnosed at 29…but I want to know what it’s like from his perspective. From that of a 10-year old.  Does he feel jipped? Does it make him sad? Does he feel different? I know kids can be disgustingly cruel to others that they perceive as different…and wonder if there’s any ‘dietary bullying’ that he’s ever had to deal with.  And I want to help. 

It’s situations like his, and the bliss on his face while he sat with his bowl of chili, that make me want to do so much more.  Thank you, Marc, for your incredible inspiration.  

I’ve decided that I’m blessed to have celiac disease…it has provided me with an opportunity to reach out and help others.  I want to do more than be an advocate for Celiac Disease. I want to do more than just be an encyclopedia of knowledge on the condition.

I want to seek a way of serving that corresponds to my unique abilities and propensities, a way that engages all of me. I want to help others directly. I want to cook safe meals for the CD masses.  I want to help give everyone with CD that look I saw on Marc’s face Saturday night.  

I believe that God really does have a plan for every single one of us…I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease for a reason…perhaps I am finally discovering my life’s purpose…

 

“I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but almost always end up where I need to be.” ~ Douglas Adams

 

Law & Disorder

Who’s in favor of the fat tax? Don’t you want to pay a surcharge for fattening foods or beverages?

As if some of the legal aspects of this country weren’t crazy enough (ahem…Casey Anthony anyone?) – here are some of the ridiculous, yet slightly humorous statutes from a few states in the US.

  • Arkansas:  No person shall drive a motor vehicle onto the premises of a drive-in restaurant and leave the premises without parking such motor vehicle, unless there is no unoccupied parking space available on the premises. – So does that make it unlawful to go through a drive-thru?
  • California: In Los Angeles, It is not legal to bathe two babies at the same time in the same tub. – Ummm…has Octomom been arrested yet?
  • California: In Riverside, Kissing on the lips, unless both parties wipe their lips with carbonized rose water, is against the local health ordinance.- Oh yeah…I’m sure this happens.
  • Illinois: A state law requires that a man’s female companion shall call him “master” while out on a date. The law does not apply to married couples. – Alright girls…make sure to call him master. Until you get married that is.
  • Illinois: It is illegal for anyone to give cats, dogs, or other domesticated animals a lighted cigar. – Is this a problem in their state?
  • Indiana: It is illegal to make a monkey smoke a cigarette. – Well maybe they can have cigars since my cat can’t.
  • Kansas: In Topeka, Servers are forbidden to serve wine in teacups. – I’ve never had wine in a teacup…think I might try that.
  • Maryland: In Baltimore, It is illegal to take a lion to the movies. – Thank goodness I can still take my tiger!
  • New York: It is against the law to throw a ball at someone’s head for fun. – Can’t baseball technically be considered a violation of this law?
  • New York:  A man cannot be seen in public while wearing a jacket and pants that do not match. – Thank goodness! Although NY strikes me as one of the last places you’d have to worry about this…Greensboro needs this law.
  • New York:  You may only water your lawn if the hose is held in your hand. – As opposed to your feet?
  • North Carolina: It is illegal to hold more than two sessions of bingo per week, and those sessions may not exceed 5 hours each session. – Nursing homes, pay attention!
  • Ohio: It is unlawful for a woman to appear in public while unshaven. This includes legs and face. – Remind me not to move to Ohio in the winter!
  • Oklahoma: It Is Illegal To Have A sleeping Donkey In Your Bathtub After 7pm – Good thing my donkey is awake in the bathtub after 7pm.
  • West Virginia: You may not profanely curse or swear or get drunk in public, or you shall be fined by a justice one dollar for each offense. – Well hell…I’d be broke.
  • Wisconsin: The serving of colored oleomargarine or margarine at a public eating place as a substitute for table butter is prohibited. – Only in Wisconsin!
  • Wisconsin: No rider of a bicycle shall remove both hands from the handlebars or practice any trick or fancy riding in any street in the city. – Look, mom! No Hands! Now look! I’m in jail!

You know what else should be illegal?! My freaking weight gain this week!!

 

And here’s where the ‘disorder’ comes in….I’m struggling a bit with something that I thought had hibernated for good.

No, my stomach isn’t hurting…and I’m not having digestive issues. But that’s exactly the problem. I’m not having any issues with eating at all. So why is this an issue?…well…because I’m wanting to eat everything in sight!!!

I cannot remember the last time that I have felt this good. I thought that it was normal to feel like you were turning inside out after eating. So I didn’t do it as much when I was at my sickest. Now that all of that’s gone, my small appetite has gone with it. Thankfully, I can’t eat like I used to. Can’t just raid the pantry or the fridge…can’t run through the drive-thru at McDonald’s….can’t destroy a bucket of fried chicken. I’m too scared of cross-contamination to gorge myself on Mexican food. Having to eat gluten-free has greatly reduced what I can pig out on. I have managed to destroy any popcorn or cheese that has come through the threshold of my house!  Red meat – come to mama! Cool Whip – I’ve annihilated it! All of it!

My food infatuations of late haven’t been all bad…I’m currently on a ridiculous garbanzo bean dependence. At least those are good for me!  If it could be delivered via IV…I’d be first in line. Ok, maybe not. But I have eaten them at every meal the last few days. Here are a few of the scrumptious, gluten-free culinary creations I’ve indulged in….

Don’t those dishes look delicious! They tasted amazing too! And to answer the question you’re currently asking yourself…yes, I will cook for you anytime!

I have the most debilitating fear of falling back into the wrath of my compulsive overeating disorder. I’m not at that point…And I don’t think I’m near that point, but I’m so afraid that because I’m not doubled over in pain after eating something that I won’t be able to stop once I start. Unlike the past, I am very aware of this fear. Perhaps this is the time that I finally persevere through something that clouded so much of my adult life, and led to so much self-loathing.

Despite my weight gain (dammit!) this week, I am not discouraged. I finally realize that food and body obsession rob women (and men) of their power. If we are so focused on what we look like, our attention can’t be invested in more important endeavors: contributing in meaningful ways to the healing of ourselves, our communities, our world. Conversely, moving away from food and body obsession provides the perfect training ground for learning the skills we need to take back our lives and develop our power in the world.

This whole journey is not about just losing weight. It’s about finding an incredibly vital, loving, wise spirit within me as I, patiently and sometimes trembling with uncertainty, strip away years of self-rejection and self-contempt. I am starting to peel the pain away by taking care of myself: eating the foods I want to eat, standing up for myself when I need to, and letting myself grieve for the waste of life that the connection between being “skinny” and “loved” has meant for me, and I’m sure many others going through the same struggle.

The fear of failure has been high, but the risk for personal freedom is worth it. I feel it is a crucial step in learning self-acceptance – identifying who I am, what I feel; rewriting my internal rule book; challenging what I have learned about what a woman should be, about my body, my appetites, my needs, and wants. Learning to accept what I think and feel as being okay – as being the “norm” for my world – has been nothing short of miraculous. It hasn’t been an easy road, but it is certainly worth every minute.

 

“When I was in grade school, they told me to write down what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down happy. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, I told them they didn’t understand life.”