Did you indulge or party just a tee-tiny bit too much this past weekend? Or maybe you fell for that lie we all tell ourselves when we’ve eaten half the brownies and, thoroughly disgusted with ourselves, take action to rid the temptation by saying, “I want this out of the house. I’ll finish it and then it won’t be around anymore to tease me.” It’s so awful. And hard, too. But I’ve found if I can stick to a healthful meal plan for two or three days eating well almost becomes a habit. All of us have struggled with our weight at one time or another. College weight, baby weight and old lady weight have all been my personal nightmares. Here’s a special memory that ought to make you feel better. When I was pregnant with our son, James, I gained 52 (yes, 52) pounds. I was enormous; I looked like a walrus…except I had braces and a real tragedy of a haircut. After I gave birth I was still fat but I had the greatest treasure in the world. Anyway, one afternoon my father came over…alone. Normally he and Mom came over together or Mom came alone. We didn’t really have what one would call a “visit”, as he strode with his long legs into our house and made the following announcement. “Your mother and I are terribly worried. So I’m only going to say this once. Lose the weight.” With that, he turned around and walked out. Nice, huh? Thanks, Daddy. I can’t say his little pep talk worked, what with a new baby and nursing and all; it took a while after that to “lose the weight”. But these are the types of meals that make dropping a few pounds somewhat easier. We can do this. We’ve all lost weight before and we’ll do it again. With a little planning we can be healthy about it and keep the weight off. Fingers crossed.
I love this dish! It is incredibly satisfying and as filling as a pasta dish but without the sluggish, weighted down feeling one is left with after sitting down to a huge bowl of penne, fettucine or farfalle…not to mention the guilt, smothering like the black cloud we all know it to be. This casserole doubles extremely well, baked in a 9″ x 13″ dish. I typically double the recipe as my entire household enjoys it for lunch the following day, along with a good bit set aside for my brother and father. More fresh basil may be added if you like, as well as more grape tomatoes. The tomatoes bake-off beautifully, warm and savory, they almost melt in your mouth. The recipe doesn’t call for much parmesan cheese but if you want to stay Paleo or keep the calories out just leave it off. Truly, with all the different flavors, this dish doesn’t need it. Enjoy!
Sausage, Tomato and Basil Spaghetti Squash Bake
- 4 cups roasted spaghetti squash, that’s about one large squash
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 1/4 pounds Italian style turkey sausage
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium zucchini, grated using the large holes of a box grater
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 2 pints grape tomatoes
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn by hand
- 1/2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- Pre-heat oven to 375°. Cover an 8″ x 11″ baking dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
- With a large spoon scoop the spaghetti squash flesh out of the shell and into a large bowl. Set aside.
- Pour half of the olive oil into a large skillet, heat to medium and swirl the olive oil fully covering the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Add the whole sausage links to the pan and cook over medium until browned all over.
- Leaving the juices in the pan, transfer the sausage to a bowl and let cool.
- Add the remaining olive oil, onion and garlic to the pan, stirring well to get up all the bits of sausage.
- When the onion begins to turn clear, add the zucchini and oregano and stir well.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, stir well and remove from heat.
- Transfer the vegetable mixture to the bowl of spaghetti squash.
- To the bowl add the grape tomatoes, basil and parsley and toss well to thoroughly combine.
- Taste for salt and pepper and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Transfer mixture to baking dish and, if using parmesan, scatter the cheese evenly over the top of the casserole.
- Bake 25-30 minutes or until the grape tomatoes become soft to the touch.
Don’t kid yourself for one second about that drink. Don’t put your tankini away and hang onto that cute, little sundress. It’s.Still.Summer. But I know they’re getting a little snug…it may be summer and hot out but we still eat and drink all kinds of no-no’s. Hot wings, lobster mac ‘n cheese, $12.00 designer cheeseburgers with fries, fried chicken and biscuit all washed down with anything from ice cold beer to blender drinks with champagne. We’re all guilty of those indulgences. Except now we’re back from our marvelous vacations and things are getting tight. Even your fat shorts can pinch at this point. I was there and this is why. I’ve always been a bourbon drinker. I adore it. Neat or with rocks I really enjoy my Wild Turkey. Until one evening when I was pouring my second cocktail of the evening (!) and my husband mentioned in passing, “You’re not going to lose any weight if you keep drinking that. You might as well sit down with a bowl of ice cream.” Well. THAT certainly hit home. Right then and there I quit the brown. Several days later I wanted a drink in an awful way. I decided on a glass of wine. I’m not a huge fan; I mean, it’s okay, so my reasoning was if I don’t particularly care for it I won’t drink much. But after a month or so I realized I was downing two glasses a night, sometimes more on weekends. That’s a lot of wine which translates to a lot of sugar. Need we be reminded sugar converts to fat? I might as well have sat down to that bowl of ice cream. I had gotten bigger than ever. Men no longer looked at me when I entered a room. (I had always enjoyed that!) My face was full, my neck was no longer long and graceful and I had the DREADED belly fat. I looked like dump. Realizing I had to make a change was easy and I quietly went about doing so. A few years back I had tried the counting “points” diet and found it worked on me for only about six months. I wasn’t about to start that grind again. We are all fully aware we need a change of diet, practice portion control and exercise. You have to start somewhere and I knew what I had to do. I cleared all grains, ALL, from my diet. Yes, that’s rice, (not easy for this Latina), potatoes, pasta and bread. I cut out dairy which was not a problem since I had already switched from 2% cow’s milk to organic almond milk for my coffee. But the cheese! Oh, how I missed it! Pizza was a double whammy. Then I addressed the alcohol quandary. Bourbon is really not high in calories unless you drink a large amount. I thought I’d try tequila. No, wait! Don’t shut me out! I, too, couldn’t stand tequila and that turned out to be a large part of my solution. Many, many years ago while I was working temporary duty for Delta in San Juan I had the worst experience of my life after drinking waaaaaay too much tequila one night. I puked my guts out. I puked so hard I cracked a rib. And to add to my woes I passed out on top of my glasses and cracked them, too. That was over 35 years ago and I hadn’t had any tequila since that fateful night. I shudder to think. Bleah. Anyway, I figured there was probably some great tequila on the market now, smooth and rich, and maybe, just maybe, I could enjoy a bit with lots of fresh lime juice in a pretty glass packed with ice. And I was right. The key is in measuring. You have to measure whatever you’re drinking. Please believe me when I say you’re pouring a heck of a lot more than you think. You’ll be surprised if you pour then measure the amount you’re having EVERY NIGHT. Have one drink…just one. That’s all you need. And that’s another thing. You don’t need it every night. You don’t. At the end of the day when you’re ready to rip apart the first person who crosses you, well, fine, if that’s what’s going to keep you out of prison. Measure two ounces of tequila or vodka, add the juice of one whole lime or, if you’re having vodka add soda, and enjoy. But if you’re not that stressed remember this. Once you’ve lost any looks you once had, chances are you ain’t gettin’ them back. Don’t be so ready to give them up. Pour yourself a coconut sparkling water, (La Croix is my favorite), and sip on that awhile. Do yourself an enormous favor and stay away from beer, wine and mixers like tonic or coke. Your body will thank you and, come Fall, so will your favorite skinny jeans!
- 2 ounces of top shelf tequila
- the juice of one large lime
- fresh lime wedges, optional
- Mix the tequila and lime juice in your cocktail glass.
- Add a few lime wedges if desired.
- Pack cocktail glass with ice, stir to mix and serve.