The (Poor) Dieting Girl’s Spaghetti

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So… true disclosure: I’m on a diet.

It seems like I’ve been on a diet since my oldest was born 7 years ago and the great figure I used to complain about disappeared more with each beautiful life I created.

But this time, I’m REALLY on a diet.  I turn 40 in T-minus 2 months and, I swear: I. Am. Going. To. Own. 40.

I’m exercising. I’m watching what I eat.  I got myself a Fit Bit.  I’m in it to win it.

But I have a little problem. Spaghetti. It’s just so darn delicious.

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So, I decided to trick my mind and body and try something new.

Tofu Pasta. (those of you who know me… don’t faint from the shock.)

Honestly, the mere thought of this struck me as absolutely gross. It sounds pretty icky, doesn’t it?  I didn’t even dare test this on the kids because I wanted to check it out first.  But the Hubs didn’t escape.  He was, as always, my ultimate guinea pig.

My garden is full of eggplants, peppers and (OMG! SO MANY) tomatoes. So I whipped up a quick-and-dirty lunchtime version of my Grandma’s stewed eggplant recipe and hoped a delicious topping would make Tofu Noodles palatable.  (I followed the recipe I previously posted almost exactly, but used all fresh tomatoes instead of canned.)

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Here’s the thing: I was VERY skeptical. It certainly LOOKS like spaghetti, and when you take it out of the bag it feels like cold, cooked spaghetti.  photo 5-8Plus, it only has 20 calories a serving and takes about 3 minutes to cook.  (just follow the directions on the package.)  But… c’mon. This can’t taste good. Can it?

I’m not gonna lie. It ain’t spaghetti. Its texture is different, somewhat chewier.

But once you get past the texture I didn’t find it all that different from spaghetti, especially after I topped it with the eggplant and tomatoes. I think it would also be good topped with tomato sauce, as part of a Veggie Primavera, or as cold sesame noodles. I’d eat it again, particularly as I try to loose the dreaded belly before our big anniversary vacation that’s coming up. It makes a quick, low-cal, low-carb meal.  photo 3-30

The Hubs is not sold. He ate it. He tolerated it. He would eat it again if I made it and that was all there was for dinner. But as he told me tonight, he definitely would not ask for me to make it again.

I’m going to try these again because I have goals and I’m going to reach them. (Cue the music: Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’)

Look out 40.  Here I come and you are about to get schooled…. even if I have to replace my beloved spaghetti with tofu noodles for a little while.  (just until I get my sexy back!!)   🙂

Happy eating!

Sharon

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Gifts From My Grandmothers & My Garden

“…The most treasured things passed down from generation to generation are the family recipes.” 

I come from a long line of exceptional women — both in and out of the kitchen. Growing up, I was always fed amazing food without having to cook. This may be why I have moments when I’m a culinary train wreck.

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My mixed-European heritage was fully-embraced by the women who’ve preceded me in our family.  My paternal grandmother could turn German flavors like sauerbraten, spatzle, and potato pancakes with her eyes closed.  Her Irish stews and her soda bread were to die for. (I’ll share those soon!)

My other grandmother was Italian and made magic with her homemade raviolis, lasagna, ziti and sauces. My mouth waters remembering how their houses would smell; how their food was almost medicinal in the way it could make you feel comfort.

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But I was stupid.  When my grandmothers were alive, I had no interest in learning the wonderful things they wanted to teach me.  My father’s mother died when I was 16 and in the throws of caring more about boys, music, and college.

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My other grandmother died when I was 31.  Back then, I was more concerned with my career and the family I was about to create.  Earlier, when she was well enough to share her gift with me I thought:  why do I need to know how to cook?  I’m never going to need to know how to do that!!  I’m going to be a modern career girl, after all!

I didn’t realize that I was slamming a treasure box closed.

I know.  Stupid.

If you’re not smart, be lucky.  I am lucky because I still have my mom.  She has preserved, perfected and melded both of my grandmothers’ techniques and talents.  So when my garden started to yield a beautiful bounty of veggies, I called mom.

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Let me be clear: my house is the house where plants come to die. Nothing green is safe in my presence.  But when we moved to our new home two years ago, I saw raised flower beds surrounded by a deer-proof fence and thought: this is my chance!

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After two summers of successes and terrifically ugly failures, I found a beautiful array of eggplants, peppers, and oh-so-many tomatoes this week.

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My mom suggested Grandma’s Stewed Eggplant.  I was wary. My 7-year-old is vehement about his hatred of all things eggplant.  But when he saw me pluck the eggplant he helped me plant in our garden, even he was excited.

I was excited, too.  As I cooked tonight, I could feel my grandmother in my kitchen with me.  She died just a few days after we found out we would be blessed with our oldest child. I’ve always wished she could have met our children.  So this was actually an emotional recipe for me to make and I really wanted the kids to love this.

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Grandma’s Stewed Eggplant

  • 2 eggplants, cubed and peeled (I used one really fat, big eggplant)
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 3 onions diced or sliced (my mom prefers diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green peppers, diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes (diced)
  1. Saute eggplants, onions, garlic and peppers in the olive oil until eggplant is soft.
  2. Add tomatoes, salt, oregano.
  3. Cover and cook for 20 minutes until cooked through
         *if it’s too watery, add flour

I didn’t follow this exactly.  I had a lot of tomatoes that needed to be used today.  So I used one can of diced tomatoes, and then diced up 5 or 6 small fresh tomatoes from the garden and tossed them into the mix.  I also used a bit more oregano, to taste.  Oh… and I didn’t need to add flour.  Isn’t it just beautiful?!?


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My mom suggested serving this on hard rolls or crostini with some melted mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  She even said you can serve it on sandwiches cold– sort of like a relish.  I think these are great ideas and I’ll try them in the future, but I chose to serve it over spaghetti and sprinkled parmesan on it in order to pass it off on my more-discerning family.  (Everything tastes great on spaghetti, right?!)

It was a HIT!

Everyone LOVED this, even our 7-year-old who was sure to redeclare his steadfast hate of eggplant (with this one exception!) The mixture was a hearty, flavorful, veggie-rich sauce. The eggplant was not bitter at all.  It was so soft, it could be mistaken for sauteed mushrooms.  The oregano married the eggplant and peppers brilliantly.

I couldn’t wait to call my mom to tell her the results. She was as happy as I was that it was a success.

I think Grandma would have been proud — in more ways than one.  I hope so.

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