Easy and Frugal Gluten-Free Cooking 1: Potato Latkes and Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Recipes

May 23rd, 2008 yum Posted in American Homestyle Cooking, Dairy Free, Easy, Low Cal, Low Carb, Potatoes, Squash, Vegetarian 6 Comments »


The last time I went grocery shopping, I have to admit, it was something of an unpleasant shock. I’ve noticed the price of certain things (dairy, produce, etc.) sneaking up, but this time I was shopping somewhere different than normal and I was so depressed when I found out that it really wasn’t cheaper to shop there than anywhere else. Bummer. Despite the fact that pretty much everything is going up-up-up in price, there are still some ingredients out there that are almost reasonably priced, if you shop carefully. Here in the Bay Area, we have a great shop called the Milk Pail that sells inexpensive produce and imported cheese. We also have a ton of international grocery stores (Hispanic, Asian, etc.) where you can get great prices on produce. Not buying certain protein sources helps with maintaining a budget- and not going crazy with dairy helps too. I’ve also had another issue- mainly, the fact that I’ve been so darned busy with school I haven’t had time to make the kind of elaborate, time consuming recipes that I love. So, I decided to start a new regular feature here at the book of yum called “Easy and Frugal Gluten-Free Cooking” to showcase recipes that are ideal for those on a budget and pressed for time. Like me, you’ve no doubt noticed the skyrocketing price of rice. It’s so distressing when one of the staple grains of the gluten-free lifestyle is affected- and if it’s hard for me, I can only imagine how tough many families are finding it right now. Both of these recipes don’t use (much) rice at all, and one is even low-carb for those frugal AND busy gluten-free dieters out there! I hope you enjoy.

DH and I developed this recipe for spaghetti squash lasagna when we were dieting before our wedding, almost six years ago. (It’s tough when two cooks get together- you always want to feed each other to show how much you care!) I’m picky about my squash, to say the least. Nothing I hate worse than mushy, overcooked yellow summer squash or zucchini. Yuck. But luckily, spaghetti squash is difficult to ruin. Its stringy, almost crispy noodle-like threads are pleasing texturally and have a lovely, fresh flavor to boot. Combined with italian seasonings and cheese, it’s even better. According to Wikipedia, “Spaghetti squash contains many nutrients including folic acid, potassium, vitamin A, and beta carotene. It is also a food low in calories, averaging 75 calories in 8 cooked ounces.” Sounds good to me! By the way, I included a dairy free option that is NOT particularly frugal- sorry about that. I just thought it would be yummy. If pine nuts are not in the budget, you could use your favorite processed dairy-free cheese or crumbled tofu ricotta. (Note: you can get a decent price on a large-ish bag of Pine Nuts at Costco- Sam’s Club might carry them too, but I’m not entirely sure.) This recipe was developed from a Weight Watcher recipe so can be low in points. You can skip the oil and be skimpy with the cheese if you would like and it will still be a great simple meal!

And I’ve always had a soft spot for potato latkes. What’s not to like about a hearty potato based pancake? I think this is the best potato latke I ever had, and I haveThe Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cookingto thank for providing the inspiration. Latkes are perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. When I’m in a real rush, sometimes I mix up half a batch of Manischewitz Homestyle Potato Latke Mix and serve it with a little tin of applesauce and (optional) sour cream or yogurt. But, nothing can compete with freshly made latkes with real potatoes and onions. This dish contains eggs for protein, potato as the starchy vegetable base, and I added spinach for some extra vitamins. With the additions, it makes a great complete meal. And, happily, potatoes are still a reasonably priced ingredient that gives a lot of gluten-free bang for your buck.

I hope you enjoy these two recipes as much as I did- and they really are easy and satisfying. Note: hungry husbands may be disappointed if you make them grate cheese and they find out it wasn’t for pizza but for low-carb veggie casserole. Ahem. And if said DH’s are not dieting, they may want some starchy dish on the side or there are certain to be late night refrigerator raids! That being said, DH enjoyed both of these dishes and I will be making both again!

Enjoy this recipe? You might also like my other low-carb vegetable recipes:
Zucchini based pizza crust
Eggplant Parmesan Recipe sans crumbs
Zucchini Parmesan Recipe sans crumbs

Gluten Free Potato Latkes Recipe with spinach variation
3 lg baking potatoes, peeled (1.5 lbs)
2 onions, grated
2 tbsp corn meal
2 tbsp rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
large handful spinach (optional)

olive oil

applesauce (i like the little individual serving cups)
lowfat sour cream or lowfat yogurt

Grate potatoes in your food processor and place in a strainer or in a clean kitchen towel. Press all the liquid out that you can. Put the grated potato in a large bowl. Put your onions through the food processor grater attachment and then put them in a strainer and let the liquid drain out. Try not to cry. Add the grated onion to the bowl with the grated potatoes and add the corn meal, rice flour, and all ingredients up to the black pepper. Don’t add the spinach yet.

Heat your nonstick pan on a burner on medium-medium high. Add a little olive oil to your nonstick pan and let it heat up. Then drop spoonfuls of the batter into the pan in pancake shapes. Or, if you like to cuddle your food, you can grab a small handful of the mixture and shape it on the surface of the pan. Fry on medium to medium high heat for 4 minutes or until golden brown. Add extra oil if it seems to dry. Turn and fry the other side until golden brown. You can store it on a baking rack with holes or put it in the oven on a baking sheet to keep warm until you finish making them all. *For spinach variation you can add the spinach to a dry portion of the pan until it wilts and add it to the remaining batter, combining before you fry it up. I made half plain and half with spinach for extra flavor and nutrition.


Spaghetti Squash un-lasagna recipe
1 large spaghetti squash
olive oil
pasta seasonings (like Trader Joes)

High quality organic tomato marinara sauce
1 or 2 garlic cloves, pressed
fresh spinach (optional)

lowfat mozarella cheese, grated
for dairy free variation
Pine Nut Not-Ricotta
1 cup raw pignoli nuts, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Combine a little olive oil, pasta seasoning in a small dish and mix thoroughly. You can add a little pressed garlic if you like.

Slice your spaghetti squash in half horizontally and scoop out the inner seeds. Baste with your seasoned olive oil and bake on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan at 375 F for 45 minutes to an hour- until flesh gives slightly at touch. Turn over halfway through if you like. Remove from oven, let cool slightly, and then scrape out your squash strands with a fork.

Take a cookie sheet or jelly roll dish and grease with nonstick cooking spray or a little olive oil. Mix with pressed garlic or any extra seasonings if you like. Spread your squash out in one flat surface- almost like pizza! Add a layer of the tomato marinara sauce, fresh spinach, and top with dairy or non-dairy cheese. Bake for 25-45 minutes or until top is golden brown (in case of cheese). Serve and enjoy!

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The Gluten-Free Low Carb Southern Vegetarian: Mashed Cauliflower Potato Recipe with Southern Fried Tofu

February 29th, 2008 yum Posted in Cauliflower, Low Carb, Southern, Vegetarian, potato allergy 8 Comments »


caulmash.jpgYou may have noticed by now that I am definitely a girl who loves her carbs. I have never been all that interested in low-carb as a dieting strategy, but one thing I really appreciate about the low-carb movement is the innovation of its proponents, and the new and unusual way they use fresh, natural ingredients like coconut, bean flours, and vegetables. Lately I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with coconut flour, and I’ve been a long-time fan of using bean flour in recipes like the socca or pakora. But vegetables also can be a powerful ingredient in low-carb recipes- and while I love potatoes, I also love the idea of finding substitutes for them that can provide me with more nutritional bang for my buck, so to speak. Sweet potatoes are a big-time favorite over at our house, and I love them roasted, mashed, and baked as “fries”. But when I first saw a recipe for cauliflower-based-mashed-potatoes my interest was really and truly piqued. To be honest, cauliflower is one vegetable I’ve never warmed to. Oh, I’ll eat it- in soup, roasted in the oven (choice when mixed with broccoli), or fried up in an indian curry (my favorite way to enjoy cauliflower), but I just don’t crave it the way I crave broccoli. (mmm, broccoli.) But if I could use cauliflower in a recipe and capture the spirit of yummy, creamy mashed potatoes- wouldn’t that be great? It also occurs to me that this would be a great recipe for any readers with a potato allergy or potato intolerance.

I hadn’t done much research into the nutritional value of cauliflower, but according to my friend Wikipedia:

southmeal.jpg“Cauliflower is low in fat, high in dietary fiber, folate, water and vitamin C, possessing a very high nutritional density. As a member of the brassica family, cauliflower shares with broccoli and cabbage several phytochemicals which are beneficial to human health, including sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed. In addition, the compound indole-3-carbinol, which appears to work as an anti-estrogen, appears to slow or prevent the growth of tumors of the breast and prostate.[7] Cauliflower also contains other glucosinolates besides sulfurophane, substances which may improve the liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogenic substances.[8] A high intake of cauliflower has been found to reduce the risk of aggressive prostate cancer.” (source: Wikipedia)

I had no idea it was THAT good for me!

I decided to look at the entry for potato, and found that equally interesting.

“Potatoes contain a number of important vitamins and minerals. A medium potato (150g/5.3 oz) with the skin provides 27 mg vitamin C (45% of the Daily Value (DV)), 620 mg of potassium (18% of DV), 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (10% of DV) and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. Moreover, the fiber content of a potato with skin (2 grams) equals that of many whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals. In addition to vitamins, minerals and fiber, potatoes also contain an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and polyphenols. The notion that “all of the potato’s nutrients” are found in the skin is an urban legend. While the skin does contain approximately half of the total dietary fiber, the majority (more than 50%) of the nutrients are found within the potato itself. The cooking method used can significantly impact the nutrient availability of the potato.” (source: Wikipedia)

untraditionalsouthern2.jpg It seems like I can feel pretty good about eating my potatoes as well, although I would have to include the skin in dishes like mashed potatoes to have better fiber content.

Regardless, I’m happy any time I find a new way to enjoy a vegetable, especially a vegetable I don’t always enjoy. This recipe was really tasty, and appealed to my taste buds more than any cauliflower recipe I’ve tried, so I pronounce this experiment a SUCCESS. We enjoyed our mashed cauliflower recipe with an old favorite- southern fried tofu, and a new take on slow cooked southern greens from my Cookin’ Southern Vegetarian Style cookbook. The greens recipe wasn’t noteworthy, but the rest was super-yum. And it certainly made this gluten-free vegetarian happy!

Next Week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap theme ingredient is the cauliflower. What’s your favorite way to prepare cauliflower? Share in the comments!

Garlic Cauliflower Mashed ‘Potato’ Recipe
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 cups water
3 garlic cloves
1 cube GF vegetable bullion
1 tablespoon lowfat greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon chopped green onions or chives (optional)
1 pat of unsalted butter (optional)
Freshly ground Italian Seasoning (with rosemary, garlic, red pepper) like that by McCormick OR your favorite seasoning mix
Freshly ground pepper
Mix your vegetable bullion cube with a 1/2 cup of hot water and let dissolve. (You can help it along if you’re impatient like me.) Put in a pot with lid along with the rest of your water and three whole or halved garlic cloves. Add your cauliflower florets and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer for ten minutes. Then you can remove the lid and let the cauliflower simmer energetically for a few more minutes, letting the broth reduce. When you’re certain the cauliflower is soft, take off burner, and drain cauliflower. You can throw away one or two of the garlic cloves, but keep one!

Combine garlic, cauliflower, yogurt, and parmesan in your food processor and process until smooth. You can add seasonings before or after blending. Taste and adjust seasonings. Put in a serving dish, top with one pat of butter, any extra seasonings and chopped green onions or chives. Enjoy!

I have always disliked cauliflower, but I actually really enjoyed this recipe. It still tastes like cauliflower, but somehow in a good way- and the parmesan adds tons of flavor. DH enjoyed it, but he likes his cauliflower plain too so it wasn’t as big of a deal for him as it was for me.

Great for low-carb dieters!

Southern Fried Tofu
Vegan  Tofu  
1 lb fat-reduced firm tofu, sliced horizontally in 3 slabs, and
pressed for 45 minutes.

Seasoning Mix:
1 1/2 cups nutritional yeast flakes (the fluffy yellow kind)
2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Garlic granules
1 tsp. Onion granules
1/2 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp. Dried tarragon
1/2 tsp Dried Dill Weed
1/2 tsp. Dried basil leaves
1/2 tsp. Dried Oregano leaves
1/2 tsp. Curry Powder
1/4 tsp. Dry mustard
1/4 tsp. Ground rosemary
1/4 tsp. chipotle pepper

Dipping Liquid Mix:
2/3 cup low-fat non dairy milk (dairy works too)
2 tsp. Fresh lemon juice (or vinegar)

Flour Coating:
2/3 cup brown rice flour (sorghum or white rice work too), as needed

1 tbsp. Canola or olive oil (or more if needed)

1) Mix all seasoning ingredients (nutritional yeast-ground rosemary)
together in a bowl.

2) Combine milk and lemon juice and stir together

3) Place flour in a mixing bowl.

4) Cut each slab of tofu into 4 triangles, resulting in 12
altogether. Dredge tofu first (one piece at a time) in flour, soured
milk, and seasoning mix. I find that this recipe makes enough mix for
2 recipes at least, so you may wish to put only half of the mix in a
shallow bowl for this step, so you can use the rest later. Follow
these steps for all the pieces.

5) Coat a big skilled with a layer of canola or olive oil, and heat
it. Add the tofu pieces in a layer, browning and then turning over
once. I also turn them on their side to brown the sides as well. You
may have to do several batches, adding oil as needed.

6) Place fried tofu on plate w/ paper towel or on rack. Left over
tofu may be heated in oven for a crispy exterior. YUM!

We usually serve them over mashed potatoes or rice, with a side
of sauteed green veggies (green beans or spinach). I loved these so
much we took nutritional yeast with us when we lived in Japan, and
made it a “comfort food meal” when we were feeling homesick.
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