Red Lentil Spaghetti {with Sauteed Vegetables in Tomato Basil Sauce}

Feed A Cold, Fuel Your Body

On the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I started to feel under the weather. I started taking cold medication, hoping to ward off any germs but apparently I was too late. On Monday, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection – my first in nearly four years – and given a prescription for antibiotic.

I did nothing on Monday but sleep, hence the reason for the missing blog post. Apparently my body was exhausted, and the only way to slow me down was to knock me off my feet with this “crud”, as I call it. It’s Thursday, and I’m still not feeling well. (Although I am feeling better!)

I had planned to blog about another topic today, but this sickness has really be interesting to me from a food perspective. I thought I would delay the other post and share with you my cravings, and my take on them.

When 21 months pass between sinus infections, you would think that I wouldn’t remember the details. Oh, but I do! I am quite certain I picked up something on the plane to Haiti and, while I spent the week in the third-world country,  it developed into the worst double ear infection and sinus infection of my life. I knew I was sick, but I had no idea how sick until the day I flew home. The truth is, I probably shouldn’t have flown home. I was THAT sick. It took a month of strong antibiotics and lots of rest to recover. I will spare you any other details. In the next year, I developed other health problems and eventually learned of my food allergies. After learning that I had to give up dairy forever, I was told by my physician that I would likely see a decrease in sinus infections… and I did. I was actually surprised at this one. But she did say “decrease” and not “an end.”

When I learned of my food allergies, I obviously adopted a new way of eating… but it wasn’t entirely due to the elimination of gluten, casein, and whey. I started to eat more whole foods. I try sticking to the simple, natural ingredients when I can. I figure the less stuff, the less chance of worrying with food allergies. I avoid genetically modified foods and shop organic and local when I can. I now eat farm fresh eggs “right out of the chicken”, honey that is harvested and bottled by a coworker, and produce grown by farmers that I’ve built relationships with and know now on a first-name basis. I didn’t view it as a fad diet, like some who eat this way on occasion to drop a few pounds. It was my new way of life. I did see immediate changes: weight loss, more energy, and better skin, to name a few. But two years later, I am still seeing changes.

I remember when I returned from Haiti, sick and pouty, all I wanted was comfort food. My brother had picked me up from the airport, and I begged him to stop and buy me french fries & a sweet tea on our drive home. When I got home, I recall waking up from naps on the couch and eating things like grilled cheese with mayonnaise, mac & cheese, or Doritos. I was out of work for nearly a week following my return because all I wanted to do was sleep. Granted, I was more sick than I am now, but I suffered from fatigue in addition to the infections.

Jump ahead to this week. It dawned on me last night that I have only reached for comfort food once during this sickness, and it was at the very beginning on Sunday morning. And it was eggs, gf/df toast and milk gravy. One meal. One proportioned meal of decent ingredients. Comfort food doesn’t have to equate to junk food! The rest of the time, I haven’t really been able to taste anything. (My nose is so stuffy that it has affected my smell and taste.) However, I have noticed that I still crave certain things: fruits and vegetables! The only things I wanted to eat after that comfort food meal were oranges and bananas, so I listened to my body and ate those. The following day, I continued to crave the same thing but also ate small portions of rice. I couldn’t taste anything, but my tummy wanted it. By Tuesday, I had an insane craving for a giant salad. I filled it with veggies, tossed in some hard boiled eggs for protein, and topped it off with banana peppers and jalapenos, hoping their kick would offer up some flavor. Despite not being able to taste it either, I enjoyed the crunch of the fresh veggies that I wasn’t getting with the fruit. I only missed one day of work, and have had more overall energy than I expected with this sickness. I can’t help but to think that the fuel that I’ve been feeding my body this time around has played a key role in recovery. Because of that, I am planning to blog more about whole food and the benefit of food as fuel for our bodies in upcoming posts.

This morning, I woke up with one thing in mind… spaghetti with sautéed veggies! I know I must be feeling better to actually want to prepare a meal. 🙂 Luckily, this is an extremely easy meal to prepare.

I love sautéed fresh vegetables as a base for almost every meal.

Red lentil pasta has two ingredients: lentil flour and brown rice flour. It is low in carbs, sodium, and sugar, and high in protein.

Doesn’t this look delicious? I save leftovers to make homemade pizza! (I use a store-brand sauce from my local grocery store.)

2 oz of red lentil spaghetti
1 medium-sized zucchini, halved and sliced
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
coconut oil
tomato and basil spaghetti sauce

Boil 1 qt of water in a medium saucepan
Add pasta and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally

While waiting on water to boil, prepare vegetables
Heat frying pan and add 1 T of coconut oil
Sauté vegetables in coconut oil
Reduce to low and add in spaghetti sauce
Simmer until warmed thoroughly

When pasta is cooked to desired consistency, empty saucepan into strainer. Allow water to drain from pasta thoroughly, then place pasta back into saucepan. (Optional step: add butter or vegan substitute to pasta to help spaghetti to not stick together.)

*Some people prefer to combine the pasta with the sauce and mix. I plate mine separately so that I can use leftover sauce!

Serve as is or with a simple side salad. Quick, easy, allergy-friendly, and nutritious!

Chickpea Burgers

I used a recipe from as a guide to create these tasty veggie burgers.

1 can (19 oz) Garbanzo (chickpeas) beans, rinsed
1 egg
2T whole wheat flour
1T chives
2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp salt
2T olive oil
whole wheat sandwich thins

Using my Tupperware Quick Chef® ProSystem, I added the can of drained chickpeas and pureed using the blade attachment. (If you have an automatic processor, pulse until a course mixture holds together when pressed.)

Once the chickpeas were ground to the desired consistency, I replaced the blade attachment with the paddle attachment. I added the egg, chives, flour, oregano, and salt, processing until it was all mixed thoroughly.

Form into 4 patties. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties and cook until golden brown and beginning to crisp. This usually takes 4-5 minutes. Carefully flip and cook and additional 2-4 minutes.

When both sides are evenly browned, place on sandwich thin, add the avocado and tomato, and serve immediately.

These burgers have approximately 328 calories and 15g of protein! Although I enjoyed the taste of this recipe, I do plan to try these again with more authentic burger ingredients. (The oregano was a bit heavy in flavor and gave this burger an Italian kick.)

Zucchini Noodle Lasagna

So you finally get to take a vacation and when you return your garden is loaded with veggies. Some, like your zucchini, have grown out of control. So what do you do with giant zucchini? I like to make zucchini noodles. I have a nifty mandolin that I can use to make wide noodles for lasagna or sometimes I make fettuccine noodles, but this is a how-to on the lasagna, so we will start with those.

Wash zucchini and cut off the ends. Be very careful using the mandolin slicer because it is generally very sharp. As I am very accident prone I have had very bad luck with this particular appliance in the past. Slide the zucchini length wise until you have used the whole zucchini. I flip the zucchini over about half way through and slice from the other side. One large zucchini makes enough noodles for a whole pan.

I have various recipes that I use for lasagna but this particular one includes:
Zucchini Noodles
1lb Ground Turkey
Pesto / Tomato Sauce
2 Small Cans Mushrooms or 1 carton fresh
Medium Diced Onion
Shredded Cheese
Minced Garlic
Salt, Pepper, Adobo Seasoning, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Oregano

Brown turkey with diced onion and garlic. Season with all of the seasonings listed above or seasonings of your choice. After meat is brown add mushrooms and 2-3 cups of the Pesto/Tomato sauce and mix well. Sauté until the mushrooms are cooked through.

Cover the bottom of a baking dish with the zucchini noodles. Just layer this lasagna the way you would any traditional noodle lasagna. Zucchini layer, meat & pesto layer, ricotta layer. I only do one layer of ricotta and I sprinkle pepper and adobo seasoning on the ricotta. Then start with another layer of zucchini and meat & pesto sauce. You can put shredded cheese on each layer if you like, but I just put it on the top.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!