I’ve been craving spaghetti and meat sauce lately, but in the land of paleo diets, eating pasta noodles are a big no-no. Luckily, there is a low-carb, paleo-friendly solution: zucchini noodles.
Now, I realize that may sound strange. I was a skeptic too. But trust me when I say: this recipe is so close to the “real thing” that even fussy eaters can’t help but clear their plate. Add a few generous dashes of shake cheese on top, and the kids will never know the difference.
Makes 12 portions:
- $3.29 - 2lb Greenwise Crushed Tomatoes
- $0.06 - 1 tbsp Publix Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- $8.52 - 1 lb Grass Fed Ground Beef
- $20.38 - 1.14lb Onion
- $0.01 - .5 Collard Greens
- $2.64 - 1.46 lb Tomatoes
- $0.33 - 1 tbsp Honey
- $0.65 - 0.5 lb Red Onion
- $0.69 - 1 tbsp Oregano
- $0.28 - 1 tsp Basil
- $0.18 - 1 tsp Sea Salt
- $0.15 - 1 tsp Black Pepper
- $0.15 - 2 tbsp Minced Garlic (Spice World)
- $2.15 - 1 lb Chicken Leg Quarter
- $4.61 - 3.25lb Zucchini
Total Cost: $44.09
Cost Per Portion: $3.67
Start with the chicken:
- Bring a pot of water to a boil
- Toss chicken into the boiling water, bring down to a simmer and leave cooking for a few hour
- Any skin or loose fat will separate from the meat once it has cooked long enough
- Once you can easily poke a fork all the way to the bone, chicken is ready
- Drain the water
- Drag a fork against the meat to make shredded chicken; any bones should fall right out
Next we make the sauce:
- Put a large pot under low heat and add the canned crushed tomatoes
- Dice up the onions and toss them into a frying pan with 1 tbsp olive oil
- Add grass-fed beef to frying pan and sauté with the onions
- Once cooked, dump meat, onion and grease directly into your large pot
- Grind up collard greens in a food processor and toss them into the pot
- Dice up the tomatoes and toss them into the pot
- Add all the honey and seasonings into the pot and leave simmering as long as your patience will allow
- Once your chicken is ready, toss it into the pot and leave simmering for awhile
What about the zucchini?
There are many ways to turn zucchini into noodles, and all sorts of different gadgets to make this easier. My wife found a simple hand-held tool for about $5 that works perfectly fine; you simply twist the zucchini into one end, and noodles come out the other. I realize this can be intimidating to first-timers, so here is a video of Penny making zucchini noodles with a standard peeler, and on the other end of the spectrum, here is a video of Julie using the fancy-dancy Spiralizer. No matter which method you use, the end result is a bowl full of zucchini in the shape of noodles.
What do I do with these “noodles”?
A lot of people like to sauté their noodles with a little fat or oil. I prefer to bake:
- Find two equal-sized casserole dishes
- Split the noodles between both dishes
- Split the sauce over both dishes
- Freeze one, put the other in the oven at 350* for about 30 minutes
Allowing the noodles to bake with the sauce helps them to get nice and soft, and more importantly, helps the zucchini to absorb all the flavors of our meaty sauce. Pull out of the oven and split each casserole dish into 6 portions.
This is a great recipe for trying to introduce people to eating clean without totally alienating them. Add a few shakes of parmesan cheese, and you’ll easily forget you’re eating a pile of fruits and veggies. You’ll note this recipe is designed to maintain a pretty generous sauce-to-noodle ratio, so the zucchini flavor all but disappears after baking.
At only 259 calories per serving, go ahead and enjoy 2nds (or even 3rds). When it comes to the macros, my goal was to hit a perfect 33%-33%-33% here, but I messed up. What went wrong? I used chicken leg quarter (which was on sale) instead of lean breast meat. The fat content of these two meats is very different; the leg quarter has far more fat. Combine this with the fatty grass fed beef and the result was too much fat, and not enough protein. This is not to say that you should avoid healthy fats, just make sure to remain mindful of your total daily macros. When going low carb, those calories need to come from either fats or proteins, and a lot of things we think of as “protein sources” (e.g. meat) actually contain a lot more fat than you might think.
Thoughts for next time:
- Make a full 5lbs of zucchini noodles, use lean chicken breast, and the macros should be roughly 33%-33%-33%
- Adjust according to your own specific macro goals