How cool is it that today is National Lasagna Day! Even better that it is Friday so you can make a big batch for the whole family.
Did you know that the word lasagna actually came from the Greek word laganon which was used to describe flat dough cut into strips? Modern day lasagna originated in Naples, Italy and was traditionally made with meat, cheese and tomato sauce.
Today, there are many varieties of lasagna and, lucky for those of us who cannot eat gluten, there are even delicious gluten free lasagna noodles available to make this luscious dish. One of my favorite recipes I found on the internet and adapted it to be gluten free. Hope you will give it a try.
Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna – adapted from Cooking Light Magazine
• 1/4 cup water
• 1 (12-ounce) package pre-chopped fresh butternut squash (can sub eggplant, large carrots or zucchini but would use 18 ounces of any veggie as I like more veggies in this dish)
• 3 cups pre-chopped kale
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
• 1.1 ounces all-purpose gluten free flour – Pamela’s is best (about 1/4 cup)
• 2 3/4 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided (I substituted Cashew milk here but can also do soy or coconut)
• 2 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded and divided
• 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• Cooking spray
• 6 no-boil Gluten Free lasagna noodles
• 3 tablespoons chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Combine 1/4 cup water and squash in an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. Cover tightly with plastic wrap; pierce plastic wrap 2 to 3 times. Microwave at HIGH 5 minutes or until tender; drain. Combine squash and kale in a large bowl. Wipe dish dry.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes or until garlic begins to brown, stirring occasionally. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add milk mixture and remaining 2 1/4 cups milk to pan; increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 ounce Gruyère, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salt, and pepper; stir until cheese melts.
Coat baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/3 cup milk mixture in bottom of dish. Arrange 2 noodles over milk mixture; top with half of squash mixture and 2/3 cup milk mixture. Repeat layers once, ending with remaining noodles and remaining milk mixture. Cover with foil; bake at 450° for 15 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle remaining Gruyère and pecans over top. Bake, uncovered, at 450° for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and sauce is bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes.
It has been a while since I have posted on my blog and I am sorry for my absence. I’d fallen into a bit of writer’s block and am finally inspired to share something with y’all today!
My husband and I moved to Houston from Chicago almost a year ago. Relatively soon after we moved here, I noticed that I had been gaining some weight. Now, initially I thought it was the Texas BBQ, but I was not really indulging in it all that much. Then I thought it may have been because my elbow was injured badly and I could not work out like I had been back in Chicago so that must have been it. Had surgery to repair the injury and once released from rehab, I went back to working out again.
The New Year rolled around and I noticed that the weight was still coming on and I was eating clean as I normally do, watching my calories and I was working out as usual. Still, not losing any weight. During the spring, I was very busy with clients and was finishing my book and studying for another certification and just thought maybe it was too much stress with all that I had going on. May rolls around and then we went to Greece on vacation. I was walking at least 5 miles a day and eating an amazingly healthy Mediterranean diet and still, no weight loss. Super frustrated, as you can imagine!
Once we returned from holiday, I decided it was time to really get serious. I decided that I needed to restrict my calorie intake, really focus on eating the right foods for my body makeup and work out more and vary the type of exercises that I had been doing. For the last four weeks, I have been mixing up my exercise between running, walking, kickboxing, swimming and HIIT. I feel great and stronger than I have been pre-elbow surgery. My food intake has been super healthy and I’ve restricted my calories to about 1200 per day which has always been good for me when I needed to lose weight. The result is that I have lost 7 pounds! Sounds ok, right?
Well, what I have realized is that I am doing everything that I encourage my clients NOT to do! I always encourage my clients to be patient with themselves and their body, nothing happens overnight. I encourage my clients to eat a healthy and balanced diet and to take time at meals and chew their food so that their body can digest food properly. I encourage my clients to get plenty of sleep because sleep helps to regulate cortisol levels which can make your body store fat, particularly around your midsection. I encourage my clients to practice some type of relaxation such as meditation, yoga or tai chi as it helps your body to focus, breathe and relax. Some of these other very simple yet effective practices, I have not encouraged myself to do.
Between working with my clients, getting a new certification, handling the sales for my book and all my own marketing and social media – I still have to run my household and manage two dogs with various health issues. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Like most working mom’s or single professionals, we tend to be able to help and encourage others and not ourselves. My sleep habits are terrible and I average about 4 1/2 hours a night. I have not been to yoga in weeks because there is always something else to do or the class times are not convenient. I rush through meals because there is always another chore to get done around the house and time is short! Shame on me for not making myself and my health a priority.
How am I going to fix this? Well, truth be told, my body does not work today at 50 like it did when I was 30. I cannot just reduce my calories and expect to drop 20 pounds in a month. Doesn’t work like that. My metabolism is changing, my hormones are changing and I now have to reassess my own body makeup and function to be able to determine the RIGHT plan for myself to lose the extra pounds that I have put on.
Most people would look at me and say that I am not overweight. For me, I am the heaviest that I have ever been. I am 5’5″ and very small boned so I can pack weight on before anyone will ever really notice. But, I notice the weight because clothes that I bought last summer no longer fit. My favorite jeans are so tight that I now have a muffin top and I am uncomfortable in my own skin.
When I began this weight loss journey four weeks ago I weighed 151 pounds which, for me, was bad. My normal “fighting weight” is around 126 and that is where I feel most comfortable. Today, as I got on the scale and saw 144, I felt discouraged. Why have I not lost more weight? Well, after taking some time to think and really understand where my body is, I realized that 7 pounds is a great start! My body does not lose weight as quickly as it once did and that is ok.
Now I am focused on identifying what I can do to get more sleep, balance my hormones and rev up my metabolism. What foods can I eat that will supplement the directions outlined previously to give me the right kind of energy and nutrition while supporting my need to avoid gluten and dairy. And, finally, what can I do to slow down a bit during the day and find more time to relax and reflect. All of those things together, with a focused exercise program will help me to reach my final weight goal. I am not delusional in thinking that I will ever get back to 126 pounds, nor am I sure that I want to. I do, however, think that another 10 pounds released would help me to feel great again, have more energy and fit back into the clothes I love and feel good in my own skin. That is really what it is all about. It is not what others think of what I weigh or how I look. It is about how I feel and at what weight and strength I feel most healthy and powerful.
If you have ever struggled with your weight, share your story with me and maybe you will help others to be encouraged to follow their own journey to sustainable health for life!
Greetings from rainy Houston, Texas!
Oh, how a few days can change the weather around here. We have been in a hot spell for the last several weeks with temperatures around 100 and sunny/humid weather. Yesterday the rains began and it has been nice to have a bit of a “cool down” with temps only in the high 80’s to mid 90’s (LOL).
Over the weekend when it was super hot out, my husband and I made a run to the local Urban Farmer’s Market downtown. They had all the usual and wonderful fruits and veggies available but something special caught my eye! Fresh and luscious FIGS!
I wanted to do something fun with them and so I decided to make a Fig and Onion Jam. My plan was to make a lovely piece of salmon for dinner and so, decided to use the Fig and Onion Jam on top of the salmon as a garnish and it was perfect! You will notice a piece of cheese on the plate in this photo. That was for my husband as I cannot have dairy but the idea started when we were in Greece this summer. We had visited a winery and they served a beautiful lunch and one of the appetizers was a plate of roasted figs paired with a creamy grilled cheese. I could not find that same cheese here so I bought a Trochon cheese from Spain and they worked beautifully together, according to my hubby.
Here is the recipe for the Fig and Onion Jam
1/4 cup good virgin olive oil
1 large sweet Vidalia onion
2 cups of chopped figs
1/4 cup of aged balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of local honey
Chop the onions into small dices as you want them to be able to really get soft and caramelized and it will help to make the jam smoother. Same with the figs. First, remove any stem from the fig and then chop them finely. I actually have a small food chopper/processor and I used that to make sure they were chopped well, but not pulverized.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat and stir in the onion. Reduce the heat to medium-low until the onion is soft and caramelized, stirring often, for about 20-25 minutes.
Add the figs into the onions and cook, stirring often, until the figs start to break down and lose their shape. This will take about 10-minutes or so. Add in the balsamic vinegar and stir until all of the liquid from the vinegar has evaporated and cooked into the mixture. Add the honey in last and stir to blend into the jam. I like to also had a dash of ground black pepper at the end just to give it a little added dimension.
This jam can be served warm or cold. I used it warm and spread it on top of a piece of grilled salmon. It is also delicious on toast or on top of a baked sweet potato. Enjoy!!
July is “National July Belongs to Blueberries Month” – how much fun is that? I happen to LOVE blueberries so any chance I have to celebrate them and eat them, I am in!
Now the term Blueberry actually refers to the American blueberry. The European variety is known as the Bilberry. Largest producers of blueberries here in the USA are the states of Michigan, Georgia, Oregon, New Jersey, California and North Carolina…in order of their production volumes. North America is the leading producer of blueberries at about 90% of the worlds total supply. Blueberries in North America are typically harvested between May and late summer.
Here is a fun fact, President Ronald Regan insisted on having blue jelly beans at his inauguration which lead the company, Jelly Belly, to create and introduce its blueberry flavored jelly bean.
Blueberries are truly a powerhouse fruit and are packed with free-radical fighters due to their high antioxidant content. They are loaded with Vitamins C, E, A, B complex and things like copper, selenium, zinc, iron and anthocyanin (gives fruit its deep blue and red colors).
Blueberries ca help reduce belly fat, promote urinary tract health, help to preserve your vision, maintains good brain health, dissolves “bad cholesterol” and helps to combat heart diseases and they can relieve constipation and digestive issues….whew! All that and blueberries have just 100 calories per cup so EAT UP!!!
Cooking with blueberries is easy as they are super versatile and go well in smoothies, muffins, pies or salads. They also make delicious jams, jellies and sauces. One of my favorite ways to enjoy blueberries is to add them to my morning smoothie! It adds great color and flavor to my vanilla smoothie and packs in a full days worth of nutrients to boot.
I’ve often made blueberry muffins (gluten free, of course) but recently found this mix for Blueberry Scones that I will be making this coming weekend. Get out there and add some blueberries to you favorite dishes or try some new ones…they are GOOD FOR YOU!