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

IMG_9996

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!

IMG_9991

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!

IMG_9998

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!

IMG_9999-004

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

Advertisements

Paleo Crisp Bread with Smoked Ham and Hazelnut Pesto

IMG_8829

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.

IMG_8843

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.

IMG_8833

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).

Banana Bread with Walnuts and Cinnamon

IMG_8877

Banana bread is one of my favorite desserts, and after making Paleo Crisp Bread I decided to use the leftovers to make this delicious, Paleo Banana Bread with Walnuts and Cinnamon. This is perfect for breakfast, brunch, dessert or just as a snack. You could also whip up some killer Paleo French Toast delights based on this recipe.

I made a Paleo Cherry Compote to go with the bread, which gave the bread that extra sweetness you sometimes miss when on a diet, but without the excessive sugar and guilt that come with regular jam and marmalade.

IMG_8881

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 a batch of Paleo Crisp Bread
  • 2 large ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 large organic eggs
  • 3 tablespoons honey

Turn your oven on to 375 F / 200 C

Mix together the bananas, eggs and honey into the Paleo Crisp Bread mixture. Mush the bananas into small and large pieces (I like to have some consistency left in the bananas so you get the real banana taste in the bread) and make sure everything is well mixed together before placing in a bread pan. I use parchment paper and place it in the pan so that the bread doesn’t stick, but you could also use oil.

Chop up the walnuts and sprinkle on the bread. Add additional honey on top if you wish.

Bake at 375 for one hour. This could be a little less or more, depending on your oven, so keep an eye on the bread. Serve with Paleo Cherry Compote or other topping of your choice.IMG_8888

FOOD FACT: WALNUTS

IMG_8820-001According to Health.com, 14 walnut halves contain 185 calories, 18 grams fat, and 4 grams protein. The health benefits of walnuts are aplenty, and beyond lowering cholesterol, it appears that consuming walnuts and walnut oil also potentially reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Here’s a fun fact about these super nuts: Walnuts are the oldest known tree food — they date back to 10,000 BC! (via. www.nutritioulicious.com)

Paleo Crisp Bread with Seeds and Nuts

IMG_8817-001

Paleo Crisp Bread with Seeds and Nuts is inspired by traditional Nordic crispbread, which is often served with cheese, ham or other light cold-cuts and toppings. This version is completely Paleo friendly, and contains no gluten or wheat at all. I chose to test something new with this recipe, and added half a head of cabbage to the seeds and nut mixture, giving the bread fill and lending enough mass to make Banana Bread with Walnuts and Cinnamon with half the batch!

This bread can last up to a week when stored in an air tight container. Paleo Crisp Bread is perfect on its own as a snack, as an accompaniment to soup or salad or as a base for delicious sandwiches.

Enjoy!

IMG_8773

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup hazelnuts (or almonds, whatever nuts you have and like will do)
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 head of cabbage
  • 1 cup flaxseed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Blend the walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and flaxseed in a food processor. Once finely ground, add the cabbage and coconut and continue blending. Mix in the eggs and oil slowly, and process until the consistency is almost like a smooth paste.

IMG_8782

IMG_8788

Add the sesame seeds and mix by hand (this is so you have some varying textures in your bread, and added crunch).

Heat your oven to 300 °F / 150 °C.

Roll out half the mixture on a piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of your dough, and roll the batter out until thin with a bottle or other object. Any additional dough can be added back to the other half of the mixture you still have (this can be used for Banana Bread with Walnuts and Cinnamon or just to make more Paleo Crisp Bread with Seeds and Nuts).

IMG_8796

Roll the dough until you have a thin bread, and then cut it with a sharp knife (I usually make pretty small square like shapes, but you can also make larger or smaller pieces, it’s totally up to you).

Once you have bread that looks like this (below) you can put it in the oven.

IMG_8807

Bake in the oven for up to 40 minutes, preferably on dry heat, as this dries out the bread rather than burns it. Keep an eye on the bread as you go along, as oven time may vary. Store bread in an airtight container for up to a week.

FOOD FACT: FLAXSEED

Flaxseed is full of Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and has been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.

flaxseedHere’s a fun fact about flaxseed: Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it.  Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say there is preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected. (via. WebMD.com)

Roasted chickpeas with chilli and garlic

I found this low-carb recipe on Pinterest, and decided to make my own version with Asian spices and finish off the crunchy chickpea delights with a little fresh coriander on top.

FOOD FACT: CHICKPEAS

Chickpeas are a vegetarian source of protein. One cup supplies more than 25 percent of the dietary reference intake, or DRI, for protein as well as more than 40 percent of the DRI for fiber.

chickpeasCooked chickpeas contain little fat, as one cup contains only 4.3 g. Nearly half of this fat is polyunsaturated fat. One cup of cooked chickpeas contains less than 0.5 g of saturated fat and no cholesterol. (via. www.livestrong.com)