But first…a little info about what’s behind the recipes I create…
Creating recipes that taste delicious and satisfying, while staying within my reasonable macro count is my favorite thing to do. For years, I thought that in order to lose weight I needed to go on strict painful diets that kept me starving and miserable. This way of living is simply not sustainable and ultimately leads me into the failure/guilt/shame cycle. There is a lot of back and forth right now about how all dieting and calorie counting is bad, and people should work to be better attuned their body’s needs, and I completely agree with this! However, I have become very attuned to my body’s needs, and here’s what I found out.
- My system is incredibly sensitive. I gain weight very easily and once it’s on me, it is incredibly hard to lose. Yes, weight gain is scientific, and it’s as simple as burning more than you take in, but there are truly some people who are more prone to weight gain than others, and I am one of those people.
- I don’t want to lose weight because I feel like that’s what I’m “supposed to do”. That used to be what drove my weight loss goals. I felt like I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough until I lost the weight, but it is different now. Today, I am much more confident in myself where I am and that is important. However, with the little bit of weight I have lost, I just FEEL SO MUCH BETTER. That is my driving factor. I like the way I feel; I like being able to run up the steps and not get out of breath; I like being able to go on longer and quicker walks; I like having more energy. Feeling this way is what fuels my desire for weight loss.
- Counting macros is similar to keeping a budget. For me, it is very easy to quickly lose track of where my money has gone if I don’t use some sort of budget tracker. It helps me save for the future, make better financial decisions, and have a better overall sense of what my money is being used for. I like to have that same sense of structure with my food. Because I don’t prefer to restrict myself with the TYPES of foods I can eat, I like to monitor the caloric and macronutrient values of what I’m eating. Counting macros is simply what works for me, and it is very doable. If I want to have a doughnut or pack of fries once in a while, I feel completely comfortable with that, even when trying to lose weight, because I budget for it.
I don’t like using fat-free and sugar free ingredients. The taste is not enjoyable and I don’t feel satisfied afterwards. What I have discovered is that if I use a smaller amount of the “real stuff”, it’s just enough to taste great but a small enough portion to stay within a “healthier-for-me” macro count.
Eggplant stuffed with Italian Sausage and Orzo is a favorite of my family because I use real Italian sausage and real cheese. It’s warm, hearty, delicious and satisfying. But it has a very reasonable balance of macronutrients. For one serving, my calculations were 340 Calories, 44C/10F/20P. I highly recommend you doing your own calculations with the ingredients you use, because brands can vary with nutritional factors, but it should be similar to this.
My Fitness Pal is what I use to track macros and I find it very easy to manage. Here is the website, but I mostly use the app.
On to the recipe!
Stuffed eggplants are a delicious alternative to a thick cheesy lasagna, when I don’t want all the carbs and fat that can comes with recipes like that. The bulk of this recipe is the actual eggplant itself. The first step is cutting the eggplants in half length-wise:
The next step is to hollow out the eggplant. This part isn’t complicated, but can take a few minutes. I use a spoon and just start by hollowing out balls of the eggplant and then finish by scraping the excess. There will still be a bit of eggplant left in tact, like maybe a cm, but you just want to get most of it. Then I spray the shells with cooking spray, sprinkle them with salt and roast them. Here is a picture of the hollowed out eggplant after it’s been roasted:
While the shells are roasting, I cook the sausage, chopped eggplant, tomato sauce and orzo.
All that’s left after that is to stuff the shells evenly with the filling…
Top with cheese…
Then bake them! When they come out, I usually top with a little chopped basil. They are so good and so satisfying…you definitely need to try them!Print
Stuffed Eggplant with Italian Sausage and Orzo
A very satisfying, healthy meal that is hearty and delicious. These eggplants are roasted and stuffed with Italian sausage, chopped eggplant, tomato sauce and orzo, then topped with Parmesan and Mozzarella…YUM!
- Prep Time: 30
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 4 stuffed halves 1x
2 medium eggplants
2 links Italian Sausage, casing removed
1 14.5 ounce can tomato sauce
14.5 ounces water (I fill up the empty tomato can)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch of red pepper flakes
3/4 cup dry orzo
4 Tbsp shredded or grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Cup Part Skim, shredded Mozzarella cheese
Chopped fresh basil
Preheat oven to 375°.
- Cut the eggplants in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the filling of the eggplant, leaving about a cm of the eggplant intact in the shell (see picture above). You can use your spoon to dig, then scrape.
- Spray each shell with cooking spray and then salt lightly with a sprinkle of salt.
- Place the shells on a baking sheet lined with parchment or Silpat mat, and bake for about 30 minutes, or until filling has been prepared.
- While the eggplants are roasting, crumble the 2 Italian sausages into a large skillet and begin to cook over medium heat.
- In the meantime, roughly chop the “meat” of the eggplant you just removed from the shells. Add to the Italian sausage and stir to combine. Also add the minced garlic, oregano, tomato sauce, water, orzo, S&P, and red pepper flakes. Stir well, to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the skillet.
- Allow the mixture to simmer over medium-low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the eggplant shells from the oven and stuff evenly with the filling.
- Top each half with 1 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese, followed by 1/4 cup of Mozzarella cheese and bake for 15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and browned slightly.
- Remove, and let cool 10 minutes before serving.
- Optionally, top with chopped fresh basil and serve!