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A balanced and easy approach to healthy living.


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Quick & Healthy Eggplant Parmesan (Gluten-free, too!)

A friend of mine was telling me recently that eggplant parmesan is one of her favorite foods…but she only makes it once a year. Why? Too much work! Slicing, breading, frying…it’s quite a labor intensive dish. (And usually not the healthiest one, either.)

But, no need to fear! Eggplant parmesan can be really quickly, easily…and, yes, healthfully prepared. The secret is not to fry the eggplant and to leave out the breadcrumbs…instead, just broil the eggplant! Another time saver: slice the eggplant lengthwise instead of into circles. Finally, I don’t bother to salt the eggplant in advance–this doesn’t seem to add to the flavor. Bottom line: no smell, no standing over the frying pan, no burning oil, no scrubbing caked-on greasy bits when you are done. Not only is it easier, but healthier to avoid frying. I also love how broiling eggplant brings out a smoky eggplant taste (it reminds me of baba ganoush).

Here’s a healthy, easy eggplant parm’ recipe for you, with a bunch of variations to make it interesting.

No-Fry Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:

2 eggplants

1 jar tomato sauce

1 16 oz. package shredded mozzarella

1-2 handfuls of minced basil for flavor and garnish (optional)

Olive oil

Salt, pepper

(Feel free to halve the ingredients if you only have one eggplant.)

Preparation:

1. Turn on your broiler (I put it on the high setting).

2. Cut eggplant lengthwise, in half. Slice each of the halves lengthwise, into approx. 1/4-1/8″ slices. (No need to make these slices too thin: I like them thick because I love the taste of roasted eggplant, I don’t want to hide it in cheese and sauce!). If you prefer slicing the eggplant into circles, then go ahead!

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3. Drizzle baking pan(s) or cookie sheet(s) with olive oil. Place eggplant slices in one layer in pan or on sheet. Drizzle eggplants with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Put into oven and broil for 10-12 minutes. Take eggplants out when they are tender and browning, but not dried (then you left them in for too long).

4. Spray/drizzle bottom of lasagna dish with olive oil. (If you used a baking pan in the previous step, then you can now use it to make the lasagna!) Layer eggplant, tomato sauce, cheese and basil; repeat for 2-3 layers or until ingredients are used. End with garnish on top.

Variations:

1. Mediterranean style: instead of basil, used parsley and/or dill. Instead of mozzarella, used feta.

2. Zucchini parmesan: use zucchini or summer squash instead of eggplant. Follow directions, exactly. Yummy variety.

3. Zucchini-eggplant parmesan: use zucchini and eggplant!

4. Use fresh, diced tomatoes in addition to or instead of tomato sauce.

5. Use fresh, sliced mozzarella instead of shredded.

Photo Credit (1st photo): seriouseats. Silly me, when I made this last I forgot to take a photo of the finished product…by which I really mean, my family devoured the dish before I could think twice. But, my parm looked almost as nice as this one. ūüôā


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Almond-Butter & Almond-Pulp Recipes

Almond-coconut macaroons

Almond-coconut macaroons

There are so many uses for almonds! I previously posted about how to make almond milk. If you follow the proportions I suggested, you’ll end up with nearly 3 cups of almond pulp. Waste not, want not: there are many great things you can make with the pulp! I’ve found that almond pulp lasts about 3-5 days in my fridge. So, if you don’t expect to use your pulp soon, just freeze it for later use. I’ve done this many times before and it works great!

Before I get into some ideas of what to do with your almond pulp, I wanted to briefly discuss making your own almond butter. Almond butter is a staple in my house. We just love it on waffles or toast with a sprinkle of honey or sliced bananas on top for breakfast. It’s also great in a sandwich with jelly. You can use it as a substitute for peanut butter in recipes.

Why eat almond butter instead of peanut butter? Well, apparently, almond butter has 25% less saturated fat, plus¬†26% more Vitamin E, 3% more Iron, and 7% more Calcium than peanut butter. It’s higher in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and antioxidants (source; please note: I have not fact-checked this myself). Also, almonds are alkaline and peanuts are acidic. (Balancing your body’s ph with alkaline foods is supposed to promote overall health. This will be the topic of a future blog post!)

Here’s the super-easy “non-recipe” for almond butter: place one or two cups of unsoaked almonds (preferably raw and organic) in a food processor with the S blade. Process, scraping the sides down frequently. This could take about 10 minutes or more, but you’ll soon witness your almonds going from a flour-like consistency to a smooth spread. Add sea salt to taste. Store in the fridge. Apparently it can last for a few months. Yum!

Now, for the long-awaited almond pulp recipes!

I haven’t found and tried too many almond-pulp recipes. There are many baked goods that you can make with almond flour, which is NOT the same as almond pulp. But, you can¬†make almond flour out of your pulp if you wish. I’ll tell you how, below, and give you some easy and tasty ideas of what to do with the pulp.

Almond flour recipe: if you have a dehydrator, then place the almond pulp on a teflon-lined tray and dehydrate at 115 degrees for 4-8 hours. Most of my readers probably don’t have a dehydrator. Instead, you can use your oven: set it to the lowest temperature possible, line a baking tray with parchment paper, and spread out the pulp. You will need to let it “bake” for about 3 hours. If you don’t have little ones running around, keep the oven door slightly open to let the air circulate better. Once the pulp is completely dried out, put it in your food processor to make it into a fine flour and store in your freezer. Use as needed. You’ll find tons of almond-flour recipes online.

Almond-coconut macaroons: I adapted this Martha Stewart recipe. The macaroons I made were more like almond-coconut balls, probably because the original recipe uses crushed almonds, which are dry, whereas almond pulp is a bit damp.

Ingredients:

2.5- 3 cups of almond pulp (i.e. yield from my almond milk recipe)
2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup coconut nectar, agave, or maple syrup
6 egg whites
2 tsp. vanilla

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk together eggs and sweetener. Stir in remaining ingredients.
  3. Form into mounds. I use a measuring spoon (1 tbs size) to capture a heaping scoop of the dough, then rolled it into a ball, and placed it on the parchment paper. Keep the balls 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake until macaroons are slightly browned around the edges, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Variations:

  • Lemony-coconut macaroons: Add 2 tbs lemon zest into the mixture,
  • Chocolate surprise: Stick a¬†chocolate¬†chip into the middle of each ball.
  • Chocoholics anonymous: Drizzle finished product with melted chocolate. You can refrigerate so the chocolate sauce hardens.

Zucchini-Almond Hummus: A found a recipe for this on a blog I like to read. I adjusted it slightly.

Ingredients:

2 cups almond pulp
2-3 large zucchini, chopped
1 clove garlic
3 tsps cumin powder
1 tsp salt  or to taste
Black pepper to taste
Juice of 1 large lemon
Fresh herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro, etc.; whatever you have on hand)
Water

Preparation:

  1. Place all ingredients into high-speed blender. Use tamp to push down the mixture so it blends well. 
  2. If mixture is too thick for blending, add water or vegetable broth, tablespoon by tablespoon, until ingredients blend well.
  3. Blend well and adjust seasonings and herbs to taste.

Banana-Chocolate Freezer Fudge: I have not yet tried this recipe, but it looks too good to pass up. Once I try it out, I will update the post.

Please, feel free to offer an feedback/tweaks to the recipes provided here, or suggest new ones, in the comments section.