Mediterranean Quinoa-Stuffed Eggplant

Made this recipe tonight, but I omitted the mushrooms because they’re not my favorite. I didn’t have  the tomatoes I needed either, so I made do with some sundried tomato and pine nut pesto I found in the fridge of the people I’m housesitting for. Yum! I think that was a serendipitous substitute. The one other difference I had was sprinkling fresh basil on top because I didn’t have fresh parsley. And it’s basil! How can you go wrong with that?

At first I thought it would be an okay recipe, just something to make every once in awhile so I don’t get sick of my limited quinoa options. So my expectations were mediocre. But this was really good!! Maybe because of the tomato pesto, haha. But it was good! Something to add to my repertoire. 

Best Paleo Brownies Ever

I’m so happy!! Usually when I make paleo-esque brownies, they turn out rather underwhelming, and they’re often dry. These ones are MOIST and GOOEY and CHOCOLATEY, everything a brownie should be. Success!!

Ingredients:

-2 medium sweet potatoes, baked and cooled 

-1/2 c melted butter

-1/4 c grapeseed oil

-3 tbsp coconut sugar (a little splurge that cancels out some of the bitterness of the cocoa powder) 

-12 packets of Truvia or stevia in the raw

-3/4 c monkfruit

-1 tsp vanilla

-4 eggs

-1/2 c cocoa powder

-1/4 c coconut flour

-1/4 c garbanzo flour

-1 tsp baking soda
Directions: 

Scoop out the sweet potato flesh and put it in a bowl. Blend until smooth. Add melted butter, oil, and sweeteners. Blend. Next, add vanilla and eggs.

In a separate bowl, combine cocoa powder, flours, and baking soda. Add this mixture to the sweet potato mixture and blend until combined. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8′ x 8′ baking pan. Pour brownie batter into the pan and bake for 35 min. 

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy the chocolatey gooey goodness!!

Eggplant Parm Bites

IMG_1327

I saw these adorable little eggplants, 8 for $1, at Sprouts and couldn’t pass them up! I concocted my own eggplant parmesan recipe that is low-carb and tasty and dippable. Yum!

Ingredients:

-6 mini eggplants

-2 egg whites

-1 c. parmesan cheese from container

-1/2 tsp. Italian seasonings

-marinara sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (I used a convection oven). Slice eggplants into medallions. Beat two egg whites until their foamy. Combine the parmesan cheese and herbs in a shallow dish. Dip each medallion in the egg whites, then into the parmesan cheese on both sides, then place on a nonstick baking sheet. Tip: use one fork to dip the medallions into the egg wash, and a separate fork to coat them with the cheese and place them on the baking sheet. That way the eggs don’t get dirty from the cheese. I baked the eggplant bites for 30 min, turning the over halfway through. I figured cooking them low and slow would ensure that they were fully cooked and not still firm without burning the cheese. I may experiment in the future to see if I can cook them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and see if they come out okay. But this first batch I made came out superbly!

Serve the eggplant parm bites with hot marinara sauce for dipping.

Sweet and Smokey Lentil Chili

IMG_1349My dad won an award once for his chili recipe, and I basically copycatted it with two major alterations. First, I used lentils instead of ground beef and sausage, and second, I added a secret ingredient–sweet potato! The idea was to reduce the amount of tomato sauce needed so the chili would be less acidic, but it also has the added benefit of giving a subtle sweetness to this chili that complements really well with the smokey paprika and the warmth of the cumin. This recipe was fantastic! And except for the cheese on top, it’s vegan.

Ingredient:

-2 c. red lentils

-1 can tomato paste

-1 small/medium sweet potato, baked

-1 can southwest chili beans

-3 cloves garlic

-1 tbsp onion powder

-1/2 tsp garlic powder

-1 tbsp cumin

-1 1/2 tsp. paprika

-1/2 tsp. ceyenne

-1 1/2 tsp chili powder

-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

-1 tsp oregano

-1 1/2 tsp salt

-dash of black pepper

-2 tbsp butter or oil

 

Directions:

Melt butter (or oil) in the bottom of a pot. Mince garlic and sauté in the butter for one minute. Add the can of southwest chili beans with sauce and the tomato paste. Puree sweet potato in a blender with a cup and a half of water, then pour that into the pot. Add in all of the seasonings. Add 4 or 5 cups of water and the lentils. Cook on medium low for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently, until the lentils are fully cooked. Add some cheese and sour cream, and enjoy!

Pesto Line-Up

I used these ingredients to make pesto today, and it was soooooo good! Pesto, where have you been all my life?? I think this needs to become a new staple in my diet.

  • toasted sunflower seeds
  • olive oil (I used grapeseed this time because we were out of olive oil)
  • fresh basil
  • fresh spinach
  • freshly squeezed lemon
  • parmesan or feta
  • lots of garlic sauteed in butter
  • celtic sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • (would probably be awesome with a few coarsely chopped sundried tomatoes tossed in for good measure)
  • a little water to help the blender function better

Blend it all up for something amazing! I licked the spoon afterwards. Yum.

Ideas for using the pesto:

  • today I tossed in it quinoa shell pasta with steamed asparagus!
  • spread it on a pizza crust of some sort (cauliflower crust perhaps) with mozzarella on top
  • marinade chicken breasts in it, then pour it all on top of them while they bake and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and  serve over rice
  • use it as a dip on crackers, with or without the addition of a slice of cheese on top (provolone or swiss maybe)
  • toss cubed potatoes in it and roast them
  • spread on a wrap with swiss or provolone and sliced turkey breast and roll it up and slice it into pinwheels
  • put it inside grilled cheese sandwiches
  • make a quinoa salad with it
  • toss steamed vegetables in it
  • bake salmon in it

Finding a Bread for Me

I keep walking this tight rope of trying to eat enough carbs to give me the fuel I need to burn throughout the day and avoiding enough carbs that this yeast imbalance I have doesn’t go completely berzerk. One thing I really miss in my diet is bread! The gluten-free breads on the market all have too much rice flour and tapioca starch and cane sugar, but the bread recipes I’ve found that don’t have those ingredients are all protein-packed no-carb paleo breads. I want something in between, so I’ve decided I have to make my own!

bread1

This is what I did for my first attempt.

  • 1 cup millet flour     remove because I don’t think it’s coarse and grainy texture digests well
  • 1 cup oat flour     add in additional cup to replace millet
  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup golden flaxseeds, soaked in 1 cup of water for an hour
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil     add 1/4 cup instead
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups water     only add 1 cup… dough was too moist and took an extra long time to bake
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp poppyseeds
  • add 3-4 beaten egg whites (maybe cream or tartar, too?) to hopefully hold bread together more and make it less crumbly, and also give it a lighter, airier texture

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine all the dry ingredients except the seeds. Place the soaked flaxseeds, the oil, vinegar and honey in the blender. Blend until smooth and gooey/fluffy. Add the wet mixture plus the additional cup of water to the dry mixture until combined. Fold in the fluffy egg whites. Pour the mixture into a parchment paper-lined loaf pan. Sprinkle seeds on top.

Bake for 1 hours or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

My first results were that the bread looked beautiful and had a pleasant flavor when warm, but it was as crumbly as cornbread and not very practical for making sandwiches! I also ended up with digestive issues from it. I’m going to omit the millet and see if that was the culprit. If not, other potential suspects are the garbanzo flour (but I’ve eaten that in gingerbread cookies and didn’t have a problem), the arrowroot which is new to me, or the flaxseeds if perhaps they weren’t fresh or maybe didn’t soak long enough.