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.

 

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

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).

Paleo Crisp Bread with Seeds and Nuts

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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!

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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)

Paleo Breakfast Pina Colada

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This is an alternative take on the classic Pina Colada, something I tried making as a breakfast treat recently. If you add rum this drink tastes exactly like something you would be served at a resort in the Maldives, so alcohol-it-up if you want!  Refrain from adding alcohol and this is a healthy and fun option for the whole family.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium pineapple – chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 1 large banana
  • Ice
  • Rum (optional)

Blend all the ingredients together and voila! You have your very own Paleo Breakfast Pina Colada 🙂

FOOD FACT: PINEAPPLE

pineappleFresh pineapple is an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C. 100 g of pineapple contains 47.8 or 80% of this vitamin. Vitamin C is required for collagen synthesis in the body and collagen is the main structural protein in the body required for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels, skin, organs, and bones.

Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents (boosting immunity) and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.