Refreshing Cucumber Limeade

“Summer afternoon- summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” ~Henry James

Summer is here. And boy, is it hot down here in Florida! I wanted to briefly apologize for my blog posts being rather sparse and inconsistent these last few months! I’ve been a little bit distracted and preoccupied lately as we are getting ready to move across the country…in the vertical sense. Yes, from the furthest point south (Florida) to the furthest point north…Maine! We are moving to Maine! Every time I say that I think it will sink in a little bit more but I still think it hasn’t. We are very excited about our new adventure which begins in less than 2 weeks! So over the next couple of months my blog will be taking a spin…transitioning…as my life, climate, local foods, places to shop, seasonal produce…and just about everything else…will all be changing! I’m excited about the change though…and excited to share it with you. And as far as summer goes, we’ll basically be getting “two summers” this year as here in Florida summer started in April…and up there in Maine summer is just starting. Some of the produce that has already had its full season down here won’t start until August up there! Ha! By the way, I actually took my cover photo in Maine during our vacation last summer when we went blueberry picking in the mountains. :)

Anyway, more on “the move” and “changes” later. For now, I wanted to share a refreshing summer drink with you. My husband is the one that actually gave me the idea! He had this great idea of making cucumber lemonade…which was brilliant…and gave me the idea of cucumber limeade (love the green color)!

Cucumber Lemonade

Alright…here’s the recipe for the green stuff…

 

Cucumber Limeade (serves 2)

 

Ingredients

Juice of 1 cucumber (with peel) and 2 limes (without peels), yields approx. 1 cup of juice

2 cups of filtered water

12 drops of liquid stevia, or to taste

Ice

 

Method

1. Wash your cucumber and limes with veggie/fruit spray (I use Fit) and rinse well. Cut ends off cucumber and peel your limes.

2. Set your juicer on  “low speed” and juice the limes, then follow with the cucumber. (should have about 1 cup of juice)

3. Pour the juice into a pitcher and add 2 cups of cold water. Stir.

4. Add liquid stevia to taste.

5. Pour over ice in glasses and garnish with fresh slices of lime.

 

Enjoy!

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All-Natural Sports Drink

“The remedy for thirst? It is the opposite of the one for a dog bite: run always after a dog, he’ll never bite you; drink always before thirst, and it will never overtake you.” ~François Rabelais

Last weekend AJ participated in a fundraiser for a non-profit organization, HOPE Worldwide. The event was titled “Hoops for Hope” and AJ along with many other members of our church played basketball for 24 hrs. to raise money for this awesome charity. AJ was one of 40 “core members” who promised to raise at least $100 each and to stay for the whole 24 hrs. of the event. It was a very successful event that raised over $5,000. 75% of the money raised is funding a hospital in La Paz, Bolivia and the other 25% will go towards our local community work.

Here he is after playing basketball for 24 hrs. and just before we hit up our local juice and salad bar to refuel!

Since my husband was going to be playing basketball for 24 hrs. I knew he would need a drink that would help to replenish electrolytes lost in sweat. I also knew that I wasn’t going to give him one the the mainstream sports drinks that are full of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial colorings. So after doing a bit of research, I came up with this concoction! It’s made up of only a few simple ingredients, tastes good, and replaces all the needed electrolytes and natural sugars for your body. Both salt and sugar help the body regulate and retain water in order to prevent dehydration.

The secret is in the salt. Himalayan sea salt is thought to be the purest form of salt on the earth. It is about 250 million years old and is mined from the foothills of the Himalayas. This salt is different from your everyday salt because it contains no chemicals or additives and it actually helps to hydrate your body. Some of the benefits are that it regulates the water content in your body, regulates oxygen levels in blood, gives more energy, contains 84 minerals, detoxifies the body, and helps with circulation and blood pressure. When I first read up on this amazing salt I thought for sure it would be really expensive, but this container was only $4! Last, but not least: it’s pink!!

The raw honey serves as the natural sweetener but also helps to replace needed sugars in the body. Honey is most easily digested in it’s raw state. Containing over 30 detoxifying compounds, lemon is a great choice for flavoring this healthy sports drink.

All-Natural Sports Drink (1 serving)

Ingredients

1 quart (4 cups) of pure filtered water

1/4 tsp. Himalayan sea salt

1 Tbsp. raw honey

juice of 1 lemon

12 drops of liquid stevia or to taste (optional)

Method

1. Put salt into the bottom of a pitcher. Heat the water in microwave until warm- about 2 minutes. Pour heated water into pitcher.

2. Add honey to warm, salted water. Stir until salt and honey are completely dissolved. Add lemon juice, and stevia to sweeten if desired. Stir until well mixed. Chill in refrigerator until you are ready to drink it!

Makes 1 liter.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Meet our cat, Phil.

Although he is almost 8 years old- he is our baby. We seriously talk about him and to him like he’s our child. Apart from being a total baby…here are some things you should know about Phil.

1. He has a foot fetish. If you come over, he must smell your feet and then find your shoes. You are most likely to find him sitting on our shoes.

2. He loves to be around people.

3. He loves to eat. (He gets this from his Mom)

4. He whines persistently when he wants something. (He gets this from his Dad, just kidding!)

5. Favorite foods: cat food, catnip, string cheese, tuna, bacon, fresh pasta.

Right now he’s wondering what in the world Mom is going to do with this bag of coconut?

Could she be making a delicious raw treat? Perhaps… :)

Raw Cinnamon Almond Butter

For the Foodie Tip this week I chose to make some raw almond butter. As I mentioned in my previous post, AJ and I are eating more raw foods on our 30 day detox (Today is Day 26!). I love almond butter but I couldn’t BELIEVE the price jump from standard almond butter to raw almond butter! It costs about $15 for a tiny jar of raw almond butter at my local health food store. So I figured I would give myself a challenge and make my own…for a lot cheaper!! I bought a 3lb. bag of raw almonds (approx. 9 cups) from Sam’s Club for about $11. Making the almond butter was so simple…and I decided to jazz it up with some cinnamon!

Raw Cinnamon Almond Butter (original recipe here)

2 cups raw almonds

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Just simply put all the ingredients into your food processor or blender (I used my Ninja blender). Blend or process until you have almond butter! You will need to scrape down the sides a few times during the process but in about 10-20 minutes you’ll have delicious raw cinnamon almond butter for a fraction of the cost!! Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

For a properly combined snack you could spread some of this onto a banana…and to make it even more decadent you could drizzle some raw honey, pure maple syrup or melted dark chocolate over it too! Or of course like this. Or you could simply enjoy it right off the spoon like I do! I don’t think I’ll ever buy store bought almond butter again :)

30 Days of Detox

Hello!? It just dawned on me that I was missing a great blog opportunity! I haven’t blogged about a big change in our diet recently!!

About a month and a half ago, AJ (my husband) and I decided to do a 30 day cleanse based on The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose. It all started with my fellow veggie-lover-health-nut friend Rebecca. She has been following this lifestyle for awhile now and after multiple conversations with her and after reading Detox for Women by Natalia Rose on my Nook…I decided to give it a try! Why? Although I already felt we were being healthy, I learned a lot from the book and thought we could use a cleanse. Also, I’m always up for trying something at least once. AJ was on board too- as long as it was only for 30 days! lol.

The Surprise. As far as AJ knew, we were going to start our cleanse on March 1st. However, what he didn’t know was that I had been planning a surprise trip to Disney World since Christmas and we would be leaving on March 1st! So after we had a fabulous time at Disney and ate til our hearts content- we officially started on March 6th.

Us on my most favoriteist ride of all time- The Rockin’ Rollercoaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

The Changes. On the cleanse we are no longer eating any sugar, grains (except for sprouted grain bread, like Ezekiel), meat (except for fish!), cow dairy (goat is ok!!), or anything caffeinated. Most other things have already been cut out since we became Flexitarians. The biggest change is not what we’re eating but how we’re eating. The main thing being “Food Combining.”

It’s the whole idea that all foods have a “digestion time.” Meaning- that some foods don’t take very long to exit the stomach for digestion (like fruit) and yet others take a longer time (like meat). Food combining is combining foods that have the same “exit times” so that your whole meal gets digested at the same time to prevent food from sitting in the stomach too long. On the flip side of things, you are also being careful not to “mis-combine” to make sure you’re not giving your little system an overload!

The Detoxinista, my new favorite food blog to follow, has an awesome chart that I’ve printed out, laminated, and put on our fridge to make food combining that much easier. Here it is: Food Combining Chart. Check out what she has to say about food combining (super cute chart!) and also some of her awesome detoxilicious recipes!

The Food. So here’s a typical day for us…

This green juice is a mixture of kale, cucumber and 1 grapefruit with stevia to sweeten. It’s easily my favorite green juice so far but AJ detests the taste of grapefruit :(. So our daily juice is the “green lemonade” from the book. Still good :)

Each day starts out like this…with a big glass of green juice. We each have about 16 oz. of green juice for “breakfast” each day and try to drink as much water as possible during the morning as well. The goal is a whole liter of water but that doesn’t usually happen for me since I can’t spend my whole morning in the bathroom at work! We also may have some fruit by itself in the morning.

Lunch is our first “meal” of the day. Usually a raw salad with a homemade dressing and sometimes cooked veggies on the side. This is my new favorite lunch:

Raw Blended Carrot Revival (from the book) and a Veggie Sandwich. This soup is fantastic! It is so simple yet has such a punch of flavor! On my sprouted grain sandwich (Ezekiel bread) I have: stone ground mustard, sliced avocado, tomato slices, cucumber slices, onion slices, sea salt and garlic powder, and spring mix greens…

Good to the last drop!

If we snack in the afternoon, it is usually some raw carrot sticks, or if it’s 3 hrs. after our lunch and 3 hrs. before dinner we’ll have some nuts and dried fruit. Pistachios, almonds, cashews and dates are our favorite combo!

Dinner is the best part! If we have a flesh based meal (I have to call it “protein meal” around AJ because he gags at the word “flesh”) we’ll have a delicious raw salad with goat cheese in it…

Sauteed Onion and Goat Cheese salad

And some fish….

Bobby Deen’s Lime Baked Tilapia

Did I mention we can still have dessert? For dessert we’ll either have some dark chocolate (70% cocoa) or some Laloo’s goat milk ice cream (creamy, dreamy, and surprisingly non-goaty tasting!! Where has this been all my life!?!?).

Our favorite starch based dinner is a raw salad with lots of mashed avocado as a dressing (or chopped up in our salad), steamed veggies, and baked sweet potatoes dressed with organic butter and pumpkin pie spice…mmm!!

One thing is for sure. Detoxing is delicious if you do it right! Today is Day 22 for us! We were very tired and felt yucky for the first couple of days. But then…we both lost weight…which was not the goal but a by-product (I lost 5 lbs. in 5 days- yikes!) and most of all we feel great and have more energy! The best part is that I don’t ever feel bloated after eating a big filling meal and my stomach has stayed nice and flat for 22 days!! Stay tuned for more of my “properly combined detox recipes.” And who knew that I already had some on here?!

Watermelon Lemonade

Creamy Berry Smoothie

Ants on a Log- Revamped

After the 30 days? We’ll just have to wait and see!

Rainbow Roasted Vegetables

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we’re doing and devote our attention to eating.” ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story

These vegetables are almost too pretty to eat! I love how all the colors and flavors come together! It’s an easy side dish that looks magnificent on any plate! There really isn’t a set recipe for these. I seasoned mine with garlic and dill seasonings, but you could use any herbs you like, rosemary would be nice too! You can also add as much or as little of whatever veggies you would like, and you can make a lot of it or just enough for one!

Rainbow Roasted Vegetables
(serves a lot!)

Ingredients

Sweet potato, cut into 1 inch cubes

Yellow, red, and purple petite potatoes, cut in half (1/4 the larger ones)

Red onion, cut into large slices/chunks

Rainbow carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

Olive oil

Dill, garlic powder, sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste (or seasonings and herbs of preference!)

Method

1. Choose, wash, and prep your veggies. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a (or 2) baking sheet(s) with aluminum foil.

2. When veggies are prepped, add to a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil and season them to your liking. Mix well.

3. Spread veggies in an even layer on the lined baking sheet(s). Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring about every 10 mins (and rotating top and bottom pans if you have two).

It’s as easy as that! Serve as a side dish at your house, or bring it as a fun side dish to your next dinner party! That’s what I did!

Our friends invited us over for dinner- I brought the rainbow roasted veggies which are featured here with Grouper with White Wine and Tomato Sauce, and Mushroom Quinoa Risotto. Delish :)

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks

“When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste.” ~Laiko Bahrs

Last year at Christmastime, I had every intention of giving out homemade Christmas treats to all of my family and friends…yeah, that didn’t happen. It was my second to last semester of college and what comes to stomp out any Christmas spirit or plans that any college student may have hoped to have in December? Just a little thing called final exam week. It was perfectly scheduled just one week before the week of Christmas…really, it’s perfect isn’t it?…. :-/

This year I was sure it would be different. I didn’t have school, or final exams to worry about so I thought I would have all the time in the world to bake…wrong again! The weeks leading up to Christmas were some of the busiest I have ever experienced! We were out of town every weekend from Halloween until December 10th when we were both in our best friends’ wedding. The next weekend we were on a plane to Chicago to visit family for the holidays! So my resolution? New Year’s treats. I spent two whole days baking to my little heart’s content.

These beauties came from a recipe in my “Cuisine at Home: Holiday Cookies” magazine. And I know it’s February now, but can’t one enjoy awesome cookies anytime of the year? Besides the little ruby red gems called cranberries could totally be for Valentine’s Day too…Christmas doesn’t own the color red!

Oatmeal-Cranberry Cookies with White Chocolate Chunks (Makes about 4 dozen 4-inch cookies)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 tsp. vanilla extract (the real stuff)

3 cups organic old-fashioned oats (not instant)

1 cup dried cranberries

6 oz. good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghirardelli)

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Stir flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl, set aside.

3. Cream butter, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl with a mixer or in the bowl of a standing mixer until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture; stir with a rubber scraper or wooden spoon until completely blended.

4. Fold the oats, cranberries and white chocolate into the dough until evenly distributed.

5. Drop dough in 3 Tbsp. mounds (a No. 40 cookie scoop is perfect) onto prepared baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart.

6. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until golden but still a little moist. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

*You can also the freeze portioned dough or baked cookies

Enjoy!

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

“Soup is liquid comfort.” ~Author Unknown

I’m a total creature of comfort. My sister is constantly trying to help give my wardrobe a makeover because all too often I opt for the “comfortable” (ugly) shoes or the plain jane jeans and t-shirt. Sure, I like to look cute here and there but most of the time- it’s not worth the effort to me because I just want to be comfortable! (Side note: I do have to say- I have made quite a bit of progress in my style- big thanks to my fashionista little sister and her awesome hand-me-downs!)

When it comes to food, I’m the same way. I love comfort food. Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, apple pie- it’s hard for me to pinpoint my favorite comfort food since I just love it all. One thing is for sure though…if I am sick, cold, or just feeling plain miserable- nothing cheers me up and warms my body and soul more than a nice bowl of homemade chicken soup. This soup was just about the best thing I could make with my always-on-hand frozen chicken stock, my leftover roasted chicken from dinner the night before, and the awesome rainbow carrots I picked up at the Farmer’s Market. I added some wild rice, and voila! Liquid comfort.

Chicken & Wild Rice Soup (serves 4-6)

Ingredients

2 celery stalks, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 cup of cooked chicken (I like a mix of white and dark meat), diced

8 cups of homemade chicken stock

3/4 cup of wild rice, uncooked

~ 1 Tbsp. of fresh Italian parsley, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Method

1. Dice chicken, veggies, and parsley. (I prefer the chicken and veggies to be the same size so I can get a little bit of everything in each spoonful!)

2. Heat a smidgen of olive oil in a med/large dutch oven (with a lid) on medium heat. Add carrots and celery and saute until soft.

3. Add chicken, stock, rice, parsley, and salt and pepper. Cover partially, and turn up the heat to med/high and bring to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn down to med/low heat, cover fully, and allow to simmer for about 50 minutes or until rice is cooked.

4. Ladle yourself a bowl, and enjoy!

*Note: If you don’t have wild rice on hand, you can make this soup the same way with brown rice as a substitute. However, when I use brown rice I only need to let it simmer for 40 minutes until the rice is fully cooked. Both are equally delicious!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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“Worries go down better with soup.” ~Jewish Proverb

Autumn is my favorite season. I love the changing of the leaves, the crisp coolness in the air, and all the glorious food that is harvested and celebrated this time of year. I go to a local farmer’s market year round and I have to say that this time of year is the best for fresh produce. This soup celebrates everything that is fall- the earthiness of the squash combined with the warmth of the spices- even the golden color! Have a bowl of liquid Autumn!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup (serves 4-6)

Ingredients

1 (3 lb.) butternut squash, quartered and seeded

1 3/4 c. yellow onion, finely chopped

4 c. homemade chicken stock

1 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground coriander

1/4 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. white pepper

1/2 c. heavy cream

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

Method

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place squash quarters cut side up on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

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2. Roast squash for about 45 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool.

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3. While the squash is roasting, sauté the onions in a large skillet until translucent, then add to crock pot.

4. Peel skin off of squash, and cut into small cubes. Add squash, stock, applesauce, and spices into crock pot.

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5. Cover crock pot and simmer on low for 2-4 hours.

6. Puree soup with immersion blender or in a blender, until very smooth. Stir in heavy cream and blend more if needed.

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Enjoy!

Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

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“True friends are never apart, maybe in distance, but not in heart.” ~Unknown

Every time I make these muffins I think of my best friend, Brett. Last March, I went to visit her during my spring break and I brought some VERY overripe bananas with me because I was determined to attempt vegan baking. I had heard that bananas could substitute eggs as a binder, so I thought we should try it out. I was there for 5 days and each day was packed with all the things that we do best…eating, talking, shopping, wine tasting, eating, talking….it was so great…and so us. One of our other favorite things to do together is bake. On my last night there we still hadn’t used my bananas…so despite it being 11 o’clock at night, we baked. And it was so worth it! We made these vegan banana muffins and they were moist and delicious. Since then, I’ve been adding non-dairy chocolate chips to them to make them even more delicious! They also freeze well. I’ll often make a batch, and then after they cool, put them into a freezer bag in the freezer. For a quick breakfast on the go, I just take them out of the freezer and microwave them for about 30 seconds and they’re perfect! Great with coffee, almond milk or if you are not a vegan- then maybe you’ll go for the cow’s milk! Oh yeah, and feel free to lick the bowl- no eggs!! :)

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Vegan Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins (yields 12 muffins)

Ingredients

3 very ripe bananas

1/4 c. vegetable oil

3/4 c. organic cane sugar

2 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1/3 c. vegan mini chocolate chips (optional)

Method


1. Preheat oven to 375. Meanwhile, mash the bananas in a medium sized bowl and add oil and sugar, stir to combine.

2. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients into the dry and stir until combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Grease or line muffin pan. Fill each cup 3/4 full.

4. Bake for about 20-25 minutes at 350. *Lower the temperature to 350 degrees after about 2 minutes of baking time. Muffins are done when a toothpick comes out clean. (Mine are usually done right at 20 mins)

5. Allow muffins to cool for 1 minute in the pan and then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

(This tip of spiking the oven temperature in the beginning and then lowering it actually helps prevent the muffins from sticking!)

Enjoy!

Eggplant 101 (and Roasted Veggie Melts)

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“Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.” ~Elizabeth Berry

Eggplant used to scare me. I avoided it at all costs. That is until I learned about its properties and how to prepare it. If you handle it incorrectly it could be your worst nightmare but if you treat it properly, it could be your newest best friend. I want to share some secrets of the world of eggplant with you and hope that you give this magnificent vegetable a chance in your kitchen!

Varieties of Eggplant:

There are many different varieties of eggplants in the US. The most common are the Italian eggplants which are usually dark purple (almost black) and oval shaped.

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The second most common is the Asian or Japanese eggplants. They are long and tubular, sometimes even twisty.

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You can even find white eggplant, speckled eggplant, and more! But as far as taste goes, there is not much of a difference. Some say that the Japanese and white eggplants have a more mild flavor than the Italian varieties. To me, they taste the same. However, the Japanese eggplants do tend to have thinner skin. When deciding which variety to buy, I suggest you focus more on the shape that you want for your eggplant in whatever recipe you plan to make. For example, if making a casserole, I want my eggplant slices to be small and round, so I would go with the Japanese variety. If making eggplant sandwiches, I would choose the Italian eggplant because I like large slices that fit on my bread. It’s up to you!

Choosing Eggplant:

1. Buying local eggplants is much preferred. You are guaranteed to eat them when they are in their peak season (which means they will taste better) and of course it is one of the best ways you can be environmentally friendly. If you can’t buy them at your local farmer’s market then choose organic eggplant at your local grocery/health food store.

2. All eggplants should have smooth skin, free of blemishes and bruises, and be firm when lightly squeezed. (Don’t squeeze too hard!) Avoid an eggplant that is wrinkly or that has soft spots, those are signs that the eggplant is too old. Eggplant is best kept in the refrigerator until ready to prepare.

Preparing Eggplant:

The most important property you need to know about eggplant is that it is absorbent. Like a sponge, it will soak up any liquid that you put on it. This can be good if you are making eggplant parmesan but this can be very bad when it comes to oil. Many people (who prepare eggplant incorrectly) complain of eggplant being mushy- and it can be if you let it soak up liquid!

That is why sweating the eggplant is essential before cooking it. This is when you salt the eggplant and allow it to sit. The salt extracts the excess liquid within the eggplant, so that when you cook it and it absorbs more moisture, it isn’t too moist.

Sweating Eggplant:

Decide whether you will peel your eggplant or leave the skin on. This is up to personal preference. Then slice your eggplant as you wish, either horizontally into rounds, or lengthwise into strips/slices. Be careful not to cut your eggplant too thick or too thin, as this will either make it too dry or too moist. I usually cut mine to 1/4” thick slices. Then lay out all your slices and salt them. If you want to be really thorough you could salt both sides but I usually just do the top. Then set your kitchen timer for 30 minutes and let them sweat. When 30 minutes is up, rinse the salt off under cool water, quickly (like you would a mushroom- you don’t want it to absorb all the water!). Dry well on paper towels, pressing down lightly to absorb all the water. Then you are ready to cook your eggplant!

Cooking Eggplant:

My preferred method of cooking eggplant is roasting. You can also grill, sauté or fry eggplant (we don’t like to use the “f” word in our house!). If grilling eggplant, make sure you brush both sides of your slices with olive oil before placing on the grill. Today I’d like to focus on roasting eggplant. My instructions for roasting eggplant are included in my recipe below. I typically roast my eggplant this same way before using it in almost any recipe!

Recipe:

These “roasted veggie melts” are great for lunch or dinner. Even non-veggie lovers are sure to love this sandwich since it is reminiscent of an Italian sandwich- only in this case, sans meat. Eggplant is a great meat-replacer. If we’re at home we like to make them this way under the broiler on crusty bread. Another thing I like to do is after cooking all of these veggies let them cool and put them into tupperware containers in the fridge. Then we take regular bread to lunch, veggies, and cheese, etc. We toast the bread at work and melt everything else on the bread and it’s a healthy yummy lunch!

Roasted Veggie Melts (makes several sandwiches)

Ingredients

1 medium Italian eggplant, rinsed and dried

2 bell peppers, cut into long strips

1 yellow onion, cut into long strips

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 tomato, thinly sliced

Crusty rolls

provolone cheese slices

herbes de Provence/Italian seasoning

Italian dressing/mayo

Method

1. Slice your eggplant into rounds about 1/4” thick. Lay on cutting board. Salt them and allow to sweat for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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2. Quickly rinse eggplant slices under cool water and dry well on paper towels.

3. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray or brush with oil. Arrange eggplant slices on baking sheet. Freshly grind some pepper over them- they don’t need any more salt. Brush with a light coat of olive oil on top sides of the slices. Or you could spray them with non-stick cooking spray of your choice.

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4. Roast eggplant in oven at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes depending on how thick or thin slices are. Check on them if needed to make sure you don’t burn them.

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5. Sauté the onions and peppers in some olive oil over medium heat until soft, then add garlic and sauté for a minute more. Season with salt and pepper.

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6. To make sandwiches, open up your hoagie rolls and lightly brush the insides with olive oil. Preheat the broiler and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (or use the same one from the eggplant) and spray with non-stick spray or brush with olive oil.

7. Lay open-faced hoagie rolls on lined baking sheet and on bottom side of each roll layer roasted eggplant slices. Then top with some of the pepper, onion and garlic mixture. Lay some slices of tomato on top, sprinkle with seasoning of your choice (I like to use herbes de Provence, hubby likes Italian seasoning) and put some provolone cheese on top.

8. Put open-faced sandwiches under broiler until bread is crisp and cheese is melted. Keep watch so they don’t burn! About 2 minutes.

9. Then drizzle some natural Italian dressing on top (or in my husband’s case he likes to put mayo on it) and Enjoy!!

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Here are some other Eggplant Recipes that I’ve tried and really liked:

Cornmeal-Crusted Ratatouille Tart (I used whole wheat instead of cornmeal for the crust)

Eggplant Gratin

Grilled Vegetables

Stuffed Eggplant with Shrimp and Basil

– Also stay tuned for my own recipe for Eggplant Burgers coming soon!!

Photo Credits:

Japanese Eggplant

Italian Eggplant