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 The Low Carb Luxury Online Magazine  
    April 2006    Page 4       > About LCL Magazine     > Cover Page      > Inside Cover    Feature Pages:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10      


Feature Articles
 Great Easter Recipes
 Make Beautiful Easter Eggs
 Cooking With Wine
 What About Lunch?
 The Health Value of Eggs
 Low Carb Sloppy Joes!
 Caffeine: Yes or No?
 Spring Re-Decorating
 Beat the Monday Blues
 Muscles Matter Most



What about Lunch? by Joan Hedman

If you're anything like me, lunch is the most problematic meal of the day. I've got breakfast down pat, and dinner is always an adventure with three kids with varying tastes, but lunch? I know I have to eat, and usually I'm hungry, but I run into the same problem nearly every day: what is for lunch? More importantly, what's for lunch that I actually want to eat? After too many consecutive days of tuna salad or turkey-and-cheese roll-ups, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich sounds awfully tempting.

Of course, I don't eat PB&J — unless it's made with sugar-free jam and low carb bread, and even then, it's a treat, not a staple. While I may indulge in the occasional slice of pizza, I've often found those extra carbs at lunch coming back to haunt me, in the form of out-of-control hunger later in the day. I've learned the hard way that limiting refined carbs at lunch is one of the best things I can do to avoid the pitfalls of the afternoon snack. (Not that I don't believe in snacking, because I do. I think you should eat when you're hungry. But sometimes I know I've had enough calories, and I still feel hungry, and then I have to think, what's going on here? If I'm hungry because my blood sugar's out of whack because of an earlier carb indulgence, I'll try to quell it with a glass of water or a cup of tea.)

I've found, as in many things, that successful lunches require advance planning. The easiest lunches by far are the ones made from last night's leftovers; sometimes it's easy to make a few extra servings, or buy a slightly larger roast, and get a few single extra meals out of one dinner prep.

I also keep a supply of portable foods on hand for rushed days. If I'm running out the door, I'll grab a couple of BabyBel cheeses, a handful of nuts, and a few dried apricots. Not the best solution, but easy to eat when I'm on the go.

You can see I have pretty minimal requirements for my lunches. I need a good protein source, and often I am satisfied with just that (hence the tuna salad, and the turkey and cheese roll-ups.) What I like, though, is to get some more nutrients and fiber, too, which is why I'll reach for nuts and dried fruit (in moderation!) when I'm pressed for time, or I'll pile the tuna salad into an avocado half, or roll up some lettuce along with the turkey and cheese.

What's really nice, though, is having something that's just for lunch. This ricotta "pie" recipe packs in all the protein you could want and delicious veggies, too. It could make a lovely first course for a fancy dinner, but for me, it's just right for lunch.

Three Layer Savory Ricotta "Pie"
8 Servings

spinach layer
  • 16 ounces (1 bag) frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
tomato layer
  • 6 roma tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasonings
ricotta layer
  • 2 C (1 15 ounce container) whole milk ricotta
  • 1 C grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs

Spinach layer: warm the oil in a medium skillet over low heat, and add the minced garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally. While the garlic is cooking, remove as much liquid from the spinach as possible. The easiest way to do this is to squeeze small handfuls one at a time until the entire package is processed. Add the spinach to the garlic and oil in the skillet, and stir to combine. Add the two cheeses, and stir to distribute evenly. Cook just until the mozzarella starts to melt.

Spray a 10-inch pie pan (I used a glass pan) with no-stick cooking spray, and scrape the spinach-cheese mixture into the pie pan. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan and up the sides, being careful not to leave thin spots.

Bake the spinach layer at 350°F for 40-45 minutes, until the crust is nicely brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before finishing assembly.

While the crust is baking, prepare the other layers.

Tomato layer: Dice the tomatoes into 1/2-inch pieces. Using the same skillet you used for the spinach, add another 2 T olive oil and the garlic, as before. Let the garlic soften over low heat for a few minutes, then add the diced tomatoes and the Italian seasoning. Increase the heat to medium high, and stir the tomatoes as they cook. Continue for about 5 minutes or so, until the tomatoes are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside to cool while you prepare the ricotta layer.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the two eggs, then add the ricotta and parmesan cheeses, and stir very well to combine. This mixture will be stiff, so be sure that there are no clumps of unmixed cheese.

To finish, spread the tomato mixture evenly over the bottom of the spinach layer, then carefully spoon the ricotta layer on top of the tomatoes. Spread the ricotta out to the sides of the pie pan, and smooth out the top. Bake the pie at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Allow to cool completely before cutting; if you slice the pie while it's still warm, the spinach layer tends to fall apart. Serve hot, cold, or at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

316 calories; 24 g fat; 8 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 20 g protein.

So, what do you like for lunch? What lunch do you miss most from your pre-LC days? Send me an email and let me know, and I'll share the best lunch ideas in a future column.


Copyright © April 2006  Joan Hedman and Low Carb Luxury



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