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

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