Spicy Indonesian Eggplant – Terong Balado

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This dish is based on a traditional spicy, Indonesian eggplant side dish – terong balado. However, in the classic recipe you would cut up the eggplant into small slices and then mix with the sauce, but I decided to keep the eggplants whole for aesthetic pleasure, and ease.

This is a simple dish, and if omitting the insane amounts of palm sugar in the original recipes, then a healthy one at that. The eggplant is fried, so be warned if you are on a low fat diet that there are probably hidden fats lining the walls of the juicy eggplants when served.

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Ingredients (makes 2 servings):

  • 1 Chinese eggplant (if you can’t get your hands on this then a normal eggplant will suffice).
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 3 shallots
  • 3 birds eye chilli
  • A good dash of oil for frying
  • A pinch of ground cumin
  • A pinch of ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons of palm sugar
  • A dash of soy sauce
  • Handful of fresh coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

First cut your eggplant once, lengthways, so you have two even eggplant halves. Heat up vegetable oil in a frying pan or wok, and wait until very, very hot. Test the oil with a piece of stale bread, and once it bubbles and spurts right away, your pan is ready to fry your eggplants. Place both sides of the eggplant, face down in the oil (as shown below).

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Once browned, turn the eggplant over and repeat the process on the other side.

While your eggplants are frying, prepare your tomato chilli sauce. Blend together all your ingredients: tomatoes, garlic, shallots, chilli, onion, palm sugar and spices, and make a paste (see below). Fry your chilli paste until you can smell all the wonderful flavors rising from the pan.

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Place your eggplants in a colander so any excess oil will drip off. When the tomato chilli sauce is ready, place your eggplants on a serving plate.

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Season to taste, and if you are a coriander freak like me, add some sprigs on top to give the dish an extra kick.

And voila, there you have, my version of Terong Balado, or Spicy Indonesian Eggplant! Serve with other Asian inspired dishes such as bok choy stir fried in garlic, fried rice, and a curry meat dish. Enjoy!

FOOD FACT: CHILLI

Chilli peppers are loaded with health benefits, including the alkaloid compound caIMG_20140501_140228psaicin, which is what gives the fruit such a strong and pungent flavour. Lab studies have shown that capsaicin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-diabetic properties.

Fresh chili peppers are also a rich source of Vitamin C and A, as well as flavonoids like ß-carotene, α-carotene, lutein, zea-xanthin, and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidant substances in capsicum help to protect the body from injurious effects of free radicals generated during stress, diseases conditions. Via. Nutrition-And-You.com.

 

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Eggplant ‘sandwiches’ with smoked Italian ham, tomatoes and pesto

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I found a similar recipe to this one through Pinterest, and decided to give it a go as a weekend treat. Although this is low carb you still need to use almond flour for the crust, so it’s still not completely calorie free, but it’s a lot healthier than using traditional flour.

This is a great alternative to your traditional eggplant Parm sandwich and it tastes really, really, really scrumptious!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 eggplant
  • 4 slices of ham (serves 4)
  • 1 package of skim mozzarella or 4 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 jar of pesto (or make your own!)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 cup of almond flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

So how do you make this decadent, bread-free sandwich, you ask? Simple!

Start by slicing your eggplant into rounds (as pictured above). I slice my eggplant quite thick so you get more of a sandwich feel to the end product.

Salt the eggplant splices and place on a baking tray or in a bowl, and let stand, ideally for up to an hour. The longer you let the salt draw out the water from the eggplant the better.

After you have removed the excess water from your eggplant you are ready to cook!

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Turn your oven on to 200 C.

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using your olive oil dampen the paper, so that your eggplant doesn’t stick while baking.

Pair the eggplant slices with pieces of similar size and place on prepared baking sheet. On half the eggplant slices place a slice of tomato, a piece of ham, a little mozzarella or a tablespoon of Parmesan and a teaspoon of pesto. Add a little salt and pepper and top with the other eggplant slice of similar size.

Pour your almond flour into a small bowl. In another small bowl beat the eggs.

Firmly hold the eggplant sandwich and coat in the egg, then coat in the almond meal. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, flip the sandwiches and then bake for another 20 minutes. Bake until golden on both sides.

Enjoy!

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FOOD FACT: EGGPLANT

Eggplant not only plays host to a bunch of vitamins and minerals, but it also contains phytonutrients, many of which have antioxidants in them. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such as caffeic and chlorogenic acid.

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 7.12.55 PMEggplant is also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps protect against colon cancer and keeps your digestive system healthy. Eggplant is also a great source of Vitamin A, B, C, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous. With no fat, six carbs and 27 calories in a 1-cup serving, eggplant makes an excellent addition to any diet. via. Livestrong.com

Cauliflower pizza with steak and onions

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Pizza doesn’t have to be a diet crasher, although the magnificence of cheese, crispy crust and meat toppings do invite hungry diners to (sometimes) overeat. Enter cauliflower pizza! Instead of making a traditional flour base for your tasty wheel, why not use cauliflower (or cabbage) instead?

I have tried making this pizza several times and although it will never have the exact same flavour or texture as a classic Italian margharita, it is probably the closest you can get with vegetables as a base.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head of grated cauliflower (boiled or microwaved)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup of Mozzarella
  • 2 cloves of garlic, shredded
  • 1/2 cup of almond flour (optional)
  • 200 g. of skirt steak
  • 2 large onions
  • 1/2 cup of olives (optional)
  • 1 can tinned tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • 1 fresh chilli (or chilli flakes)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and turn on the oven to 200 C. Boil or microwave the grated or blended cauliflower until tender, make sure it is properly cooked through as otherwise you will have a very crunchy pizza. Ensure that your cauliflower is also very well blended.

Once boiled let the cauliflower cool, and then place in a tea towel. Wring out all the water (this may take a few minutes), and once dry place in a bowl. Mix in the egg, Parmesan cheese (leave a few tablespoons to use as topping for your pizza), almond flour, garlic, salt and pepper.

Mix well until the cauliflower base becomes dough-like. Place on the parchment paper and using your hands kneed the dough out and form a circular pizza base. The thickness of the base is a personal choice, I prefer to have it quite thin as this makes it crunchier, however be warned – it is harder to pick up if it is very thin!

Place the cauliflower base in the oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes, until darkened and crispy. Keep an eye on the base as oven times may vary.

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While the base is in the oven you can begin preparing your toppings. I chose to use some leftover steak I had in the fridge and onions. Slice and fry the onions in a bit of olive oil. Place on a plate and fry the steak in the same pan as the onions. Season with spices and herbs of your choice.

Now it’s time to prepare your pizza sauce. I find that using a tin of canned tomatoes, and literally just blending this with some garlic, fresh basil, oregano, chilli, salt and pepper gives a great, easy to make, tomato sauce.

Once the cauliflower base is ready top with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, steak, onions, olives, and whatever else you like on your pizza. Turn up the oven to 275 C, and once it is piping hot put the pizza in the oven. Keep a close eye on it, as it only needs 4-5 minutes for the cheese to melt and your cauliflower pizza with steak and onions to be ready!*

Enjoy!

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FOOD FACT: CAULIFLOWERScreen shot 2013-09-07 at 12.30.03 PM

Cauliflower is packed with nutrients, including indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which helps prevent prostate, ovarian and cervical cancer. This cheap vegetable is also filled with Vitamin B, C and K.  Cauliflower provides humans with two core antioxidants, manganese and Vitamin C, which helps lower the risk of oxidative stress in human cells.

Chronic oxidative stress—meaning chronic presence over overly reactive oxygen-containing molecules and cumulative damage to our cells by these molecules—is a risk factor for development of most cancer types. via. whfoods.com

*The cauliflower pizza base in these pictures is a little on the burnt side, the ideal pizza base would be a little lighter in color.

 

Grilled chicken with pesto, capers and Shirataki noodles

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This was my first attempt at using Shirataki noodles, and instead of making a classic Asian meal I decided to try to whip up an Italian inspired pasta dish.

Although the texture of Shirataki noodles is slightly rubbery, all in all they are a great alternative to classic high-carb pastas and noodles. In order to get the best flavour out of them you should rinse the noodles thoroughly before boiling (for 2 – 3 minutes in warm water), then boil for 4 – 5 minutes after which you should rub the noodles with olive oil to keep them from becoming sticky.

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Shirataki noodles come in two forms, tofu Shirataki and regular Shirataki. Both types contain a yam flour base and the only difference between the two is that tofu Shirataki has a small amount of tofu (well duh!). Shirataki noodles contain 0 calories per serving as they are almost entirely made up of fiber. Tofu Shirataki noodles contain around 20 calories per serving (because of the extra tofu). The noodles I bought were regular Shirataki noodles, and apparently tofu Shirataki noodles have a more pasta-like texture.

Shirataki noodles are highly recommended (in my book) and you can look forward to many more Shirataki noodle recipes to come!

Grilled chicken with pesto, capers and Shirataki noodles

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Shirataki noodles (enough for one person or two if you are not that hungry)
  • 1 piece of chicken breast
  • 1/2 glass of pesto (I was lazy, you can also make your own which would obviously taste way better)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Handful of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme or basil

Place the Shirataki noodles in a bowl and cover with warm water. Rinse for 2 – 3 minutes, then boil for 4 – 5 minutes. Rub one tablespoon of olive oil into the noodles and set aside.

Prepare the chicken breasts by slicing into chunks and marinating in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, thyme (or basil) and salt and pepper. Set aside. Slice up an onion and grate the cheese. Turn on the frying pan and wait until hot. Add marinated chicken (with garlic), and once almost ready add the onions. Fry the chicken and onions until done.

If the Shirataki noodles have gone cold heat them up quickly in the microwave. Add as much pesto as desired, as well as capers and the chicken and onion mixture. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and black pepper.

ENJOY!

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FOOD FACT: CAPERS

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 5.05.22 PMCapers are flower buds, which make them very low in calories (23 calories per 100 g.), containing phytonutrients, anti-oxidants and vitamins that are essential to your health.

Capers are very rich in quarcetin (180 mg/100 g), second only to tea leaves, a very powerful anti-oxidant. According to research studies quarcetin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Did you know? Usually the small, cream coloured caper buds are handpicked in the early hours of the day (otherwise the plants unfold into whitish-pink sepal flowers with long purple tassels). Not long after harvesting the caper buds are washed and allowed to wilt for a few hours in the sun before being placed in jars and covered with salt, vinegar, brine or olive oil. Via. Nutrition-and-You.com

Shirataki Noodles: Low-Carb Goodness!

So this is probably the most exciting food find I’ve made in a long time. I am a noodle and pasta fanatic, and I know nothing better than spicy Indonesian fried-noodles with a sunny side up egg on top, or a creamy Italian carbonara with plenty of extra cheese. My love for these carb-filled dishes however, is not often satiated, as I try to stay away from starch laden noodles and pasta.

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Shirataki noodles are Japanese yam noodles and they are extremely low-calorie and low-carbohydrate. They are quite gelatinous in texture and are a great replacement when on a low-carb diet.

How Shirataki Noodles Are Made

Shirataki comes from the root of a plant (Amorphophallus Konjac, or a few other closely-related species) grown in various parts of Asia. The fiber in Shirataki noodles is known as glucomannan, which is derived from the Konjac root. This fiber contains more than 16 amino acids and several vitamins and minerals.

Konjac glucomannan is a water-soluble dietary fiber derived from Konjac plant roots. In Japan Konjac foods are known as Shirataki noodles or Konnyaku. These noodles are a traditional Chinese food and have been eaten for more than two thousand years. Shirataki noodles are also known as Moyu and Juruo in China.

Potential health benefits from the glucomannan fiber include weight loss, decreased cholesterol, diabetes control and gastrointestinal regulation.

FOOD FACT: Konjac

Screen shot 2013-07-14 at 6.25.31 PMKonjac foods are ideal for feeling full as the glucomannan increases up to 200 times its original volume after absorbing water, helping you feel more satiated. Konjac also helps remove toxins inside the body, clear the stomach and balance salinity.

Konjac glubcomannan fiber has strong swelling capacities and is the most viscous fiber in nature. When Konjac fiber mixes with other food in the stomach it absorbs a lot of water, forming a soft gel which helps slow digestion. Via. Konjacfoods.com 

Miracle food? I think so!

Recipe coming soon!

Paleo Crisp Bread with Smoked Ham and Hazelnut Pesto

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I LOVE PESTO. Like I really, really, really adore pesto with a passion, and often find myself fantasizing about fresh pasta tossed with homemade pesto with lashings of parmesan cheese on top. But alas, I am staying away from the pasta, but that doesn’t mean I have to say no to pesto!

I recently made Paleo Crisp Bread, and decided to make a homemade hazelnut pesto to compliment some smoked ham I had bought as a topping for the bread. This recipe is inspired by traditional Danish Smørrebrød.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 slices of Paleo Crisp Bread
  • 2 slices smoked ham (or whichever cold-cuts you prefer)
  • 1/2 hazelnuts
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup low-fat cheddar or parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 spring onion

Blend the hazelnuts until finely ground. Add basil, cheese, garlic, salt and pepper, and a dash of olive oil. Blend again, adding olive oil until desired consistency. I usually add a little water to thin-out the pesto a little bit, to save on the oil.

Slice the spring onion and set aside. Place two slices of Paleo Crisp Bread on a plate and put a piece of ham on each slice. Add desired amount of pesto and garnish with spring onion.

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And voila! There you have Paleo Crisp Bread with Smoked Ham and Homemade Hazelnut Pesto!

FOOD FACT: BASIL

Screen shot 2013-06-26 at 5.02.43 PMBasil not only tastes great as a main ingredient in pesto, but it also has many surprising health benefits! Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, basil also has antioxidants that can protect the body from premature aging, skin complications and even some forms of cancer. Basil oil can be used to treat stomach complications such as constipation, cramps and indigestion as well as the common cold. (via. Motherearthliving.com).

Here’s a fun fact about basil: In Hindu cultures basil is considered a sacred plant.  In some cultures basil is a sign of love and devotion between young couples (it’s probably easier to find than mistletoe too).

Oven baked chicken with celeriac fries

Do you find yourself craving french fries, but you’re trying to follow either a low-carb or Paleo lifestyle, and all you can make is sweet potato fries? Here’s a low-carb alternative to making your favorite fried tots, and with no guilt involved.

You can literally eat as many of these celeriac fries as you wish, and your waistline will continue shrinking with every bite!

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Even though it’s summer I reside in Denmark, and there is never, ever a guarantee for sunshine or warm temperatures in the summer months, even at the end of June. As I sit here writing my next tasty update the wind is howling tirelessly against the windows and giant rain drops are pounding on the grey tinted glass. Although I would prefer sitting on the beach with a Skinny B*tch (my favorite drink at the moment) there is one really great thing about cold summer days: you can make comfort food! Screw barbecuing freshly roasted meats and tossing light zesty salads with a cold Carlsberg in your hand, when the weather is in a bad mood there is only one thing to do, treat yourself.

I was really hankering for fried chicken with french fries, but as I am on a health kick I had to come up with something else that would hit the spot. To satisfy my comfort cravings I decided to make oven baked chicken with celeriac fries and a side of what I like to call cabbage slaw (although it is in no way shape or form the same recipe as what you would consider traditional coleslaw), and I must say (with as much humility as someone who thinks they really are a great cook, can muster) it tasted DIVINE! So here it is, my healthy rendition of fried chicken with french fries.

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts or thighs (up to you)
  • 1 celeriac
  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • Coriander (optional)
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Cumin
  • Curry powder

Preheat your oven to 350 °F / 180 °C

Marinate the chicken in cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, cumin and olive oil. Finely slice 2 cloves of garlic and add to the chicken. While the chicken is marinating cut up your celeriac into fries. You can do this as you please, and make them thin and crispy or big and soft, depending on your taste preferences. Once the fries are cut up toss them in olive oil, salt, black pepper and the remaining garlic.

Place chicken into a baking dish and put in the oven for around 45 minutes (depending on your oven).  Throw the celeriac fries on a baking sheet and place in the oven as well, turning after approximately 15 minutes (they should be done in around 35 – 40 minutes).

Slice up the cabbage, onions, carrots and remaining clove of garlic. Stir fry in a pot with olive oil, and add desired spices (I used cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and curry powder), but you can really use anything you please.  Serve with coriander on top.

FOOD FACT: CELERIACScreen shot 2013-06-26 at 4.17.40 PM

Celeriac not only helps you lose weight by boosting your metabolism, it also contains high amounts of fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium besides containing vitamins B1, B2 and E. According to Giverecipe.com celeriac also helps cure kidney diseases and promotes healthy skin and hair.