Ok, I promised a recipe. I’m going to deliver!!! BUT before I do, let’s talk a bit about my day. This “early afternoon” (or morning in my alternate universe), I posted to the blog, then very happily went about the rest of my day, doing some grocery shopping, helping Todd (very little) to make dinner, portioning up some of the groceries we bought (I have another whole post planned for that concept later), and cleaning the kitchen. But somewhere among all that, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, some of you were in contact with me. The result of this was a bit of a brainstorm for me. Then I was reminded of an online conversation that Todd had with one of our friends just the other evening in response to one of his Facebook posts.
So, Danelle, Linda, you guys are the seed, the kernel, the beginning of this post. I hope you aren’t upset that I’ve named you out loud on such a popular blog (yes….I’m still as sarcastic as I’ve always been…..). But I did want to give you guys a shout out so that you get to know my thought processes, how I think, and what helps me come up with ideas. As I drove around town, my thoughts kept churning. As I shopped for groceries I was getting inspired by the things I saw around me. I kept hearing things I’ve heard people say over and over echo through my head. Then I began to have a discussion with Todd about my thoughts. The conversation (in short form) went something like this……
“you know, Todd, I always used to think that eating gluten free was impossible, that it would be such a chore, that there’d be no way I could ever survive such a restrictive diet…….”
Todd’s immediate response was, yeah, I know that has to be rough, I mean if you are celiac and can’t have gluten it really must be difficult….. But then, thanks to a request from a friend I began to think of the meals we had eaten just this week alone. I immediately thought about the spaghetti squash casserole (pictured above) that we had eaten on Friday night. I went over the list of ingredients (it didn’t take long since there were only 5 ingredients, other than the spices used), to see if they were gluten free…… Spaghetti squash (check) Cheese (check) Broccoli (check) shallot (check) Hot Italian sausage (check). I was trying to find some wheat, some rye or some barley in there somewhere, because I have NEVER EVER been the type of person to think of myself as following any special dietary restrictions. BUT I COULDN’T!!!!! There was no breadcrumbs. There was no “flour to thicken” there was no barley or rye. The cheese was swiss (usually gluten free) the spaghetti squash was not processed or manipulated, therefore no chance that gluten was added, broccoli is naturally gluten free, and I knew that the content of the sausage was free of fillers (which can be a source of gluten) and contained only meat and seasonings. WE HAD EATEN GLUTEN FREE!!!!
I kept thinking about the rest of our week…… On Monday we had a salad of mache greens, some homemade spicy apple and squash soup and one hell of a good ribeye steak (hhhmmmmm….no gluten). I have checked my eating habits for dinner each night this week (I’m using an app to track my intake and calories, so I know everything I have eaten). I can honestly say that FOR DINNER each night this week, we have eaten gluten free meals. PLEASE DO NOT JUMP TO ANY CONCLUSIONS HERE…… (the rest of this post will clarify I promise, this was NOT planned, but merely a result of certain circumstances that will become apparent!). WE ARE NOT A GLUTEN FREE HOUSEHOLD!!!!!
It was then that Todd then had an epiphany! He looked at me and said, for about 4 decades people have moved more and more away from naturally occurring foods, away from the produce isle and deeper into the bowels of the grocery store, where the prepackaged foods live, where packages say things like “add 3 eggs, 1/3 a cup of oil, mix and bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees and serve immediately.” Or “preheat oven to 375 degrees heat for 20 minutes and serve.” We have given up control of what our foods contain!!! I immediately realized that, only 3 months ago I could not have thought of eating gluten free because I wanted thickened sauces (flour was so much better for this than corn starch) and since I wasn’t calorie counting I was prone to wanting breaded and deep fried things (even if they WERE homemade). Todd’s barley cheese casserole was one of my favourite “comfort foods” and baked goods were something I had never shied away from!!! BUT once we both started watching our caloric intake, we trended AWAY from those types of foods….. just naturally.
As we continued to talk about this, and how people had given up control of the content of their foods, the concept of creativity came up. Friends who would say, “oh, that LOOKS delicious, but I don’t eat red meat….how would I do that with chicken instead?” Or, when someone would ask Todd for a recipe, the look on their face when he’d stop, think, scratch his head and say, well I don’t really have a recipe for that, I just kinda throw in a bit of this and a bit of that……. We began to realize that creativity in the kitchen has also been a casualty to the pre-pack concept.
SO…… I looked at Todd and said…. “you know, maybe we should do a BLOG CHALLENGE!!” Yup… I said it!! He wasn’t sure what I meant at first. But when I explained he quickly agreed. Here’s the concept. We will take this extremely quick and easy recipe for the Spaghetti Squash Casserole you see above and share it with you. (well you already KNEW I was going to do that!) But here’s where it gets interesting. Todd and I will commit to eating it once every week, (until we can no longer stand it, or get bored, or just simply begin to retch at the though of having to EAT THAT STUPID CASSEROLE AGAIN!!!). Of course there’s a catch…… We will re-invent that damn casserole every week……. we will tax our creativity, will will bend it to meet any dietary requirement you throw at us…. you want vegetarian? YOU CAN HAVE VEGETARIAN!!! Gluten free?? YOU GOT IT BABY!!!! (the original recipe already has that covered anyway!!!!). Give me a challenge…. VEGAN?? Sure I’m up for that too!!! Wanna try and trip me up? GIVE IT A TRY!!!! BRING IT!!!!
To make sure there’s some structure (and that the recipe doesn’t get so mutilated that you can’t even find the original concept) there will be a rule….. With the exclusion of the seasoning components we will only be able to change ONE other component each week….. I hope you are as interested as I am to see where this can go!!! (and I hope you will all keep us accountable to see that we follow through ok?) So, without further adieu here is the original recipe which Todd and I ate this Friday night…..
Spaghetti Squash Casserole
1 Spaghetti Squash (aprox. 500g)
200g Chopped Broccoli
30g coarse grated Swiss Cheese
1 medium shallot finely chopped (aprox. 2 tablespoons)
250g Hot Italian sausage (two links with casing removed)
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 pinch salt
Cut squash in half, scrape out seeds and guts lightly spray a baking sheet with oil. Place squash (cut side down) in a 400 degree oven and roast for aprox. 30 minutes (or until soft).
While squash is roasting, pan fry sausage adding 1 tsp chipotle powder (I hope you like spice!!!)
Remove sausage from pan, drain any fat, add shallot and broccoli to the pan the sausage was fried in and stir over medium heat for aprox. 4 minutes until shallot is translucent.
In a large mixing bowl scrape the contents of the squash from its shell (don’t be afraid, get in there with a fork…. get it ALL…. it’s delicious!!!). Add the broccoli/shallot mixture and the sausage. Season with a pinch of salt. Add 2/3 of the grated cheese to the bowl and stir to combine.
Scrape the contents of the bowl into a shallow casserole dish or pie plate, sprinkle remaining cheese on top and place in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
Remove from the oven and serve (this recipe can serve 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main).
Wait for compliments!!! (trust me they will come).
AND AS ALWAYS WE WILL INCLUDE THE NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (as provided by our wonderful app “My Fitness Pal”…. and once again a disclaimer…. we are not being paid or rewarded in any way for mentioning said app….of course, My Fitness Pal, if you are seeing this blog you may always feel free to contact us for a multi-million dollar lifetime endorsement!)
Thanks again for reading!!!