Sunday, January 17, 2010

Eggplant - here are the top 2 ways to mouth-watering perfection!

If you have eaten eggplant in the past and not enjoyed it (join the ranks of my husband), this post may or not be for you. I must say this right now though - how eggplant is cooked makes or breaks it. I will give you my two best cooking methods.

I LOVE eggplant. It is my absolute, number one favourite vegetable. I think it is perfect. I could eat them every day and not get tired of their creamy texture and subtle flavour. What's even better is that eggplant is ideal for my nutrition programme - it is low-carb and fat-free. And to top it all off, they are supremely filling. I slap half an eggplant on my plate at dinner with a side of steak, and I am so full, there is no hankering for any dessert afterwards!

My husband loathes 'aubergine' as he calls them and then performs an eloquent gagging noise. Apparently he was put off them before my time. So, he will happily cook them up to perfection on the barbecue for me but won't ingest them for love nor money. More recently, my three-year-old son has taken a liking to them and, as much as it pains me, I have to hand over a few slices whenever he sees them on my dinner plate.

So, what's the secret to mouth-watering, addictive eggplant??

Here are my top two methods for cooking: (there is no need to salt & rinse eggplant these days - the bitterness has been bred out):

1. Sizzled on the barbecue: Cut eggplant into 1 cm slices - do not remove the skin (any thinner and they will dry up, any thicker and they won't get cooked through before the outside is burnt). Brush lightly with olive oil. Heat barbecue plate to medium heat and cook eggplant slices until they are lightly browned on both sides (turning only once) and squidgy in the middle. Sprinkle with your favourite salt - eat immediately.

2. Baked in the oven: Pre-heat oven to 180 deg Celcius. Cut eggplant in half long-ways. Brush both cut-side halves lightly & thoroughly with olive oil. Place a piece of baking paper on a baking tray, lay eggplant skin-side down (cut-side up). Bake for approximately 35-45 mins depending on the size of the eggplant. It should be quite brown on top and squidgy in the middle. Sprinkle with your favourite salt - eat immediately.

Please try some soon!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Coffee - the alternative to sweets after lunch

The simplest way to put it is: I have a sweet tooth. Maybe there's more to it on the physiological and psychological levels. But really, I love to eat sweet foods - especially cookies, cakes and chocolate. Oh, and then there are slices, pastries and scones. I love them all. I especially enjoy having something sweet after lunch. Before I was on this nutrition programme, the sweet treat after lunch was actually the best part of lunch!! The slice of chocolate cake just seemed to finish it all off.

To lose weight and keep it off, I had to change this habit. I had to reign in my sweet tooth. And I have succeeded - with a replacement. I now finish off my lunch with a satisfying cup of plunger coffee. My favourite brand is Hummingbird coffee, it is fair trade and organic. I make it strong with plenty of trim milk and no sugar. It tastes wonderful!

The coffee really signals the end of the meal for me. It is warming, filling and seems to cut through any lingering peckish-ness for something sweet. It still feels like a treat with its heady aroma and strong flavour. Once I've had the last delicious slurp, I am full and have completely forgotten about trying to sneak in some chocolate-laden morsel.

Monday, January 4, 2010

recipe: meatloaf - no-carb, reduced fat

I use minced beef quite a lot - mainly because it is quick, easy and inexpensive. Mince doesn't have to be fatty. It is simple to brown mince, drain off the fat & rinse under hot water to expel the rest of the fat.

To make this meatloaf no-carb and reduced fat, I omit the breadcrumbs (which just absorb all the fat anyway) and at the end of the baking time, I remove the loaf and immediately drain off all the liquid fat.

500g lean minced beef
1 onion chopped super fine (I use the food processor)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon sage
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. In a large mixing bowl combine meat and all other ingredients. Mix with a fork until well combined. Place mixture in a glass loaf dish. Press down firmly with a fork. Bake for approximately 50 minutes and the mince is cooked through. Remove from oven and immediately drain off the liquid fat. Serve with your favourite sauce such as ketchup, chutney or minted plain yogurt. Serves 2 with leftovers for 1 lunch.