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

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.

 

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