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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Tuna and spinach salad with fresh garden peas and feta

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Summer is here and here in Denmark we are experiencing one of those very rare heat waves (which means it’s above 25 °C for 3 days in a row). Denmark and Danes are not very well equipped for too much heat, and the temperatures don’t need to rise above 20 °C before people start complaining about it being too hot.

When the weather is like this I always have a hard time figuring out what I want to eat: everything just seems too heavy and cooking also feels like too much work. Which is where fresh summer salads come in! I love tuna sandwiches, but a tuna and spinach salad with fresh garden peas and feta seemed like a very good alternative to the classic sandwich option.

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This recipe is easy, cheap and diet friendly, and if you are serving your meal to non-dieters you can just switch out the spinach leaves with some Ciabatta bread or a baguette.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can tuna
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 lime
  • 10 fresh garden peas (peeled)
  • 3 tablespoons low-fat feta cheese (I use 3%)
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach
  • 1/2 finely chopped onion
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon capers (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Siracha (optional)

Mix canned tuna with low-fat sour cream, mayonnaise, juice of half a lime, 1/2 finely chopped onion, Dijon mustard, capers, Siracha, salt and pepper. Mix well and taste. Add more salt, pepper or lemon juice if needed.

Wash spinach and place in a bowl. Top with garden peas and low fat feta cheese. Add as much tuna as you like and garnish with lime wedges and black pepper.

Enjoy!

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FOOD FACT: TUNA

TScreen shot 2013-07-23 at 1.45.19 PMuna is very high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which means it is a great option for lowering triglyceride levels as well as controlling blood pressure. Eating tuna may also help lower your risk for stroke, heart disease, cancer, eye disease as well as help fight depression.

Women who consume more than five servings of baked or broiled fish a week have the lowest risk of heart failure. via. Healthyeating.sfgate.com

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.

Banana Bread with Walnuts and Cinnamon

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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.

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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)