To cook this super easy, one pan, Keto dinner all you need is three ingredients. Buy some lean ground beef (1 pound), a can of organic, low sodium, diced tomatoes, two medium size zucchinis, and some chopped onion, which is optional.
Order of Preparation
Brown the ground beef in a large frying pan. While the meat is cooking, dice a zucchini into pieces. The easiest way to do this is to cut off the ends and cut the zucchini in half. Stand each half and make cross-cuts all the way down so the piece is in quarters. Lay it down on a cutting board and slice.
Open a can of diced tomatoes. Chop some onion if you want. I did to add flavor.
When the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan and set aside. I put it into a bowl I would be using to eat from to save dishes.
Add a pat of butter and heat the frying pan to cook the zucchini. Stir and cook, with the onions, until it is mostly tender. Dump in the can of tomatoes and add the cooked ground beef. Simmer for a few minutes to heat the tomatoes and blend the flavors.
This delicious and quick meal is now ready to eat! Add salt and pepper as you like.
Any vegetable you like would work in this dish. Some options would be broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant, and peppers. To stretch it, for those who eat carbs, eat it with rice or pasta. Crusty bread would be good too.
I am not a big follower of recipes, but online recipes can give me ideas. Now that I don’t eat pasta, my favorite low-carb, vegetable casserole recipes are Keto and (mostly) kidney friendly.
Before I continue, I am not a medical professional nor am I a dietician. Do not consider this post as a recommendation for any type of diet. Do your own research or ask a medical professional if you have PKD or CKD. I’m still learning how to eat.
Pinterest and Keto diet sites are loaded with food ideas, but many include tons of cheese and too much salt. My advice is to cut down on the cheese and salt that seems to be the basics of many Keto foods, and concentrate on eating more vegetables.
Most Diets Have Nothing Against Vegetables, But…
Usually you are perfectly safe when eating organic, fresh or frozen vegetables. However, some vegetables can be high in carbohydrates (anti-Keto) and high in potassium and phosphorus (anti-kidney).
Balancing a low-carb diet with safe foods for those of us with kidney disease can be tricky, but not impossible. We have to be careful of dairy also, so a little cheese on top of the casserole is better than layering it throughout.
Tomatoes are not kidney friendly due to their high potassium levels, but adding small amounts of sauce with the vegetables, or a few slices of tomato within the layering will add great flavor. Remember, this is a dish that should feed 4-6 people. So, how much tomato (or cheese) would you be eating per serving?
The basics to creating a simple vegetable casserole is to slice, layer and bake. That’s it, and you can choose what vegetables to use.
I enjoy making my own tomato sauce using herbs from my garden, but organic, store bought (low sodium) is fine too. Just don’t go overboard if you have kidney problems.
Favorite Vegetables to Use in One Dish Meals
My favorite casserole uses eggplant, but I can’t always find decent eggplant at the store. My second favorite vegetables are zucchini and summer squash. It’s always best to buy what is in season because it will be the freshest. Spicy and yummy peppers can add great flavor.
I‘ve included some potassium info for those who need to watch it.
Eggplant, peeled or not *I slice it and sprinkle with salt, which is suppose to help with bitterness. The salt is rinsed away! Read here on How to Salt Eggplant.
Summer squash: Zucchini and /or yellow
Peppers add great flavor. Red bell pepper (251 mg.potassium) / Poblano pepper (410 mg. potassium)
Broccoli (288 mg. potassium, 1 cup chopped)
Cauliflower – I prefer a white sauce with this.
Sliced tomatoes (go easy if you have CKD / PKD) *High in Potassium
Mushrooms (cook first)
Spinach *High in Potassium
Herbs, either dried or freshly chopped, add flavor and nutrients
Usually I choose whatever vegetable I have, or use a combination of two. I’m cooking for myself only, so my casseroles need to be smallish. One eggplant will usually fill my baking dish!
Make some tomato sauce or use from a jar.
Shred some of your favorite cheese.
Once the vegetables are sliced (which I do by hand) I begin to layer.
Make the Casserole
Think as if you were making lasagna.
Grease a baking dish – I use Ghee (Ghee is just clarified butter.)
Begin layering with one layer of veggies, a little tomato sauce, meat (if you are using it) and some cheese – or cut down and sprinkle cheese on top only.
Keep going until the dish is nearly full – it will bubble over if too full!
Pour the rest of tomato sauce over, if any is left, and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 until the vegetables are soft – around 30-40 minutes.
This type of casserole can contain pre-cooked meat if you want. I’ve made meatballs and sliced them up for one of the layers. Usually I avoid adding meat because too much red meat / protein is not good for kidneys. I prefer an all-vegetable casserole.
Simple and Healthy Eating
My goal was to help my readers see that recipes are not needed when it comes to baking healthy casseroles loaded with vegetables. And who needs pasta?
Honestly…. I have to eat! It does feel overwhelming while I try to do Keto and keep my kidneys going. I cannot cut every food out of my diet…!
Variety is best, and being aware of personal body needs and limitations should be the guide to creating awesome, guilt-free, vegetable casseroles.
I made some meatballs the other day using the Keto Quick Bread in place of regular bread. Then I sliced the meatballs to add to my meatball and zucchini casserole.
Ingredients for the Casserole
2 zucchini, thinly sliced and not cooked
meatballs sliced, or cooked ground beef (about 1 pound)
shredded cheese – I used a combination of mozzarella and parmesan
homemade tomato sauce, or jar of sauce
1 container fresh mushrooms, sautéed in butter / oil
Make the meatballs or cook the beef. Make the sauce. I used one can of organic, low sodium tomato sauce and added spices, a spoonful of sugar, some olive oil, and the cooked mushrooms. Slice and cook the mushrooms before adding to the sauce. Shred the cheese.
Put ghee or oil in the pan to prevent sticking and begin the layers. I put my layers in this way: half the zucchini, sliced meatballs, 1/2 half the sauce, 1/2 the cheese. I did this twice. My casserole dish is only a 1.5 Quart, I think – it’s small. Just double everything to make a larger casserole.
I enjoyed making this meal and it will last me a couple of days – with part of it put into the freezer for a later time.
My casserole dish was too small so it bubbled over near the end of cook time. I baked it at 320 degrees for an hour. I wanted it to slowly simmer so it wouldn’t do this. I just about made it.
A longer bake time will help the flavors to mingle. I am happy with this meal. The mozzarella cheese I used was strange and turned into clumps, but the meal had lots of flavor and good healthy ingredients.
There are plenty of Keto meals floating around the internet to find and follow, but it’s not necessary to continually follow recipes. Once you have a grasp of what foods are low carb, meals like my casserole here can be made up with what’s on hand.
Another tasty tomato sauce casserole you might like is my Poblanos and Beef. The beef could easily be left out of this one.
Eggplant and tomato sauce and cheese go together well. For my next Keto friendly casserole I am including these ingredients along with Poblano peppers.
Here it is ready to bake. Read on to see how I made this simple meal.
Ingredients For the Casserole
First I sliced the one eggplant into thin slices. I layered them in a sieve and sprinkled with salt to pull out any bitterness. I’ve found varying advice about salting, and I never leave the salt on. Some places say the salt pulls out the water so the eggplant won’t be soggy. Some say it’s for bitterness.
Here’s what I do: layer with salt in a colander for 20 – 30 minutes. I then rinse and remove moisture between paper towels. I certainly don’t want salty eggplant. This seems to work fine for me and it hurts nothing.
Meanwhile I am cooking one can of organic tomato sauce and mixing in coconut sugar, basil, oregano, and whatever you like in your tomato sauce. It simmers on low while I fry the peppers.
I let that simmer while I de-seed the peppers and brown them in ghee. I’m still not sure about what to do with these peppers, but adding them to a casserole is flavor-inducing. I discovered this in my ground beef casserole.
I also shredded a block of parmesan cheese. Using fresh parmesan is definitely the way to go. It has much more flavor and goodness than the powdered stuff in a canister.
Layer some sauce in the bottom, add a layer of eggplant, cheese, peppers and so on. My layers were created to use up all the ingredients with sauce and cheese for the top. It was covered with the glass cover that came with the dish and baked at 350 for 25 minutes.
This meal is Keto friendly, with no big-carb ingredients. It could be eaten with a Quick Keto bread, if you are still trying to get over the no-noodle and no-bread thing.
I’ll tell you that this eggplant casserole was totally delicious. I love my new little casserole dish, because what I bake is for my eating pleasure only, and it’s the perfect size. The dish does not have handles, so that is a bummer, but it’s small enough (1 1/2 quart) to be lifted easily.