Last week we finally picked up this year’s supply of delicious, lean nilgai from my husband’s hunt in February. So, with a freezer full of steaks, ground, and roasts, I can’t wait to start planning new recipes using this fantastic meat!
Now, it’s well-known that game meat is often better for you than store-bought beef (check out this in-depth article comparing venison and beef), and as far as calories are concerned, you can’t beat wild game. Using hunted meat instead of beef has made fitting our hearty family meals into my daily calorie count MUCH easier.
For comparison: 4 ounces of extra-lean ground beef contains 290 calories. The same amount of venison comes in at 128… and nilgai, at 121! (You can see the chart from Texas Parks & Wildlife here.) That’s a major difference that really adds up, especially if you’re like us and eat a proverbial ton of red meat.
Spaghetti is one of my go-to dinners around here. The boys love it, I love it, it’s heavy and satisfying… but, unfortunately, pasta is so high-calorie that when I make it with regular spaghetti noodles, I only get to enjoy a small portion. Plus, it’s tough to get my husband and kids to eat a good serving of vegetables when there’s a big pot of delicious pasta to dig into.
So, two birds with one stone: replace the heavy and calorific noodles with one of my favorite vegetable creations… zoodles! Yummy, nutrient-packed noodles made from fresh zucchini.
With the right kitchen gadgets, it is so easy to turn a few zucchinis into nice thick noodles. I’m currently using this nifty little contraption called a Veggetti (available here from Amazon, currently priced at about $14.) It has two sets of blades, for thicker or thinner noodles, and a handle toothed cap so you can spiralize nearly every bit of your squash.
I usually recruit my husband to make the noodles, since he does it much faster than me. I’ve told him that for some holiday this year he should get me a nicer “automatic” spiralizer to speed up the process. But for now, I make the sauce and he makes the zoodles–it takes him only a few minutes to go through five medium zucchinis.
He’s such a champ.
Seriously though, making zucchini noodles is crazy simple and they’re so versatile. If you’re like me and enjoy eating giant helpings of things, this is the way to go. Guilt-free, nutritious HUGE PLATES OF FOOD. Dreams can come true, y’all.
Look at those beautiful noodles. So good. So good for you.
To cook the zucchini, I prefer to let them steam in a big saucepot like this one. Turn it to medium heat, add a bit of salt, and cover, stirring occasionally. After 10-15 minutes, they’ll be done–let them cook less if you prefer firmer noodles, and longer to get them a big more tender. No need to add any oil or water, they have enough water in them naturally that they’ll steam perfectly.
While your noodles are steaming, you can put together the sauce. Brown your ground meat (nilgai, venison, turkey, or extra-lean beef) with sliced mushrooms and diced onion, plus a bit of minced garlic (as far as I’m concerned, everything needs garlic). When your onions and mushrooms are tender and the meat is completely browned, add a jar of your favorite pasta sauce. I’ve recently discovered Prego Smart Light pasta sauce–45 calories per serving, only 225 for the whole jar!
Let your sauce simmer until the noodles are done, then pour it over the noodles. Stir it all together and it’s ready to serve! Add a bit of Parmesan on top for maximum deliciousness.
That big bowl of spaghetti, including the parmesan cheese, added up to a very satisfying 175 calories. I had two. 😉
Tasty and beautiful, too.
Try this with your supply of game meat and let me know what you think!
- 5 medium zucchini
- 1 lb ground nilgai, venison, turkey, or extra-lean beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 24 oz. jar pasta sauce
- Basil, salt and pepper
- Using a Veggetti or other spiralizer, cut zucchini into thin strips.
- Put zucchini noodles in large pot on stove over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and cover. Let steam 10-15 minutes or until tender. (Less time for firmer noodles, longer for more tender.)
- Meanwhile, brown ground meat in large saucepan with diced onions and mushrooms. Season with basil, salt, and pepper.
- When meat is fully cooked and onions and mushrooms are tender, add jar of pasta sauce and stir to combine.
- Let simmer while noodles are steaming.
- When zucchini noodles reach desired level of tenderness, pour pasta sauce into large pot and mix well with zucchini.
- Serve with parmesan cheese if desired.