Most “dudes” aren’t known for their healthy, balanced diets. The Dude Diet is meant to introduce ways to get “dudes” to eat a little healthier – to clean up their favorite foods. Offering options – not drastic changes. Serena Wolf is a chef – an accomplished chef, who as a Harvard grad, seems a bit overqualified as a chef. Yet, she’s on a mission to deliver delicious foods, delicious recipes, ones that anyone can enjoy – “clean(ish) food for people who like to eat dirty”.
The idea for the Dude Diet came from her boyfriend, Logan. It’s a story that sounds so familiar to me – trying to get my husband to eat healthier is a losing, uphill battle. Now that we’re parents it’s a little easier, but I know he eats nothing but junk when he is on his own. She has a similar challenge – and while my husband claims to be allergic to vegetables, her Logan had no clue about calories, ingredients, and nutrition. This was her mission – to make healthier versions of his favorite dishes, eliminating certain ingredients, bringing down the fat and calorie counts, and in some dishes, sneaking in some veggies.
When I got the book my husband saw it laying out. On the cover is a pile of amazing – looking nachos. Thumbing through the book he pointed to several dishes he seemed really excited about. This is a sign!!! If only I can make these dishes without him seeing the all of the ingredients. One of the first recipes I tried was her recipe for apple pie overnight oats. I love overnight oats – and we tried this recipe right away and it was super easy and yummy! Anything between two tortillas is a hit in this house – so her ultimate breakfast quesadillas (with chopped broccoli snuck in) I know will be trying soon. Her breakfast recipes would be a hit any time of the day – especially her English muffin French toast with berry compote.
A few great recipes sneakily hide servings of veggies – cauliflower mad and cheese with chicken sausage, super sloppy joes, and Italian herb meatballs with spicy marinara. With big chunks of tomatoes and squash I don’t think anyone in my house would be interested in the summer spahhetti – but I think it looks delicious. I can’t wait to try the fiesta BBQ chicken nachos – perfect for football season!
After the overnight oats, I wanted to try her meatball recipe. Instead of using breadcrumbs, the recipe calls for cauliflower. They are gluten free, which makes it a great option for some. I was nervous about trying the recipe and wondering how this swap would affect the taste of the meatball. No need to worry though, they were delicious! I really loved them – and so did my daughter!
Using the same meatball base I made BBQ ranch meatballs. With 1 lb of ground beef, the cauliflower, 1 cup of finely grated cheddar cheese and a packet of ranch dip seasoning. Both meatball recipes turned out great!
Italian herb meatballs with spicy marinara
1 C cauliflower florets
1 lb lean ground beef
½ C grated parmesean cheese
1/3 C basil leaves, finely chopped
1/3 fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
1 t drid oregano
1 t kosher salt
½ t freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
For the spicy marinara
1 ½ T EVOO
½ medium yellow onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ t kosher salt
One 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
- Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and place it on top of the prepared baking sheet.
- Put the cauliflower florets in a food processor or blender and pulse several times until the florets become small granules. (The cauliflower should look sort of like couscous here.) Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients for the meatballs to the bowl with the cauliflower. Using your hands, mix gently just unil all the ingredients are combined. Try not to overmix, or you’ll end up with dry, dense meatballs.
- With lightly oiled hands, gently roll the meat mixture into 16 balls, and place them an inch or so apart on the wie rack. Bake to 20 minutes or until cooked through.
- Meanwhile, get gogin on the marinara. Heat the olive oil in a medium Dutch oven or sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add the onion, garlic, and salt and cook 5 to 6 minutes or until the onion is very soft and the garlic is fragrant. Add the crushed tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes until slighltly thickened.
- Add the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes more, then stir in the basil. Serve warm.