Grilled Eggplant w/ Crispy Parmesan

By popular request! Here is the recipe for the eggplant Stephen has been bragging about.

Ingredients:  Fresh Eggplant (or rubbery old eggplant that needs to be used), salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil,  real parmesan cheese ( not the powdered carpet that comes in the green container)

Start out by slicing your eggplant in to 1/2 inch thick slices, leaving the skin on. Lay them flat on a baking sheet. Sprinkle your slices with with salt and pepper. If you like garlic ( i hope you do!) use your microplane grater and grate some garlic over your raw slices. If you don’t have a microplane grater you need to get one right this second.  They are about $15 and last a long time.  Drizzle a healthy amount of olive oil over your slices. Make sure all this yumminess is on both sides.

Best tool in my kitchen!
Best tool in my kitchen!

Now grill your slices either outside or in a grill pan on your stovetop. This would also work if you turned your oven up to 425F and roasted the slices.

Grilled eggplant slices on the metal background top view
Grilled eggplant slices

Turn the broiler on in your oven. Lay your eggplant slices on a baking tray. Grate a lot of parmesan cheese with your microplane. If you don’t have one, use your finest grater. Sprinkle cheese over each slice. The more the merrier. I had about 1/2 inch on each one since its very fluffy when grated with the microplane. Place the tray in the middle rack of your oven with the broiler on. Now watch as the cheese melts and begins to brown. Once its golden brown and looks crispy remove from oven and let it cool a bit to really crisp up.

Eggplant with Crispy Parm

Bonus: Left over eggplant, warmed in the toaster oven with fried eggs and wilted spinach is really good. I added Cholula hot sauce. Its my favorite. Eggs w/ Eggplant & Spinach

This technique would also work with zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms etc…

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How I think about salad + a recipe

A LITTLE SEASONAL RANT!

Eating seasonally just makes sense. Produce in season costs less, has a higher nutritional content, is readily available and if I really listen to my body it is what I’m craving. So this might seem drastic to some but there are some foods I don’t buy out of season…..at all. Like I don’t buy strawberries and tomatoes in the winter and winter squash in the summer. By truly waiting till strawberries are in season, cheaper and actually taste good, I am letting my tastebuds get really excited for them. When strawberries are in season I eat a ton of them because I’ve missed them so much! It makes what I’m eating a treat that I don’t take for granted. Just so I don’t get busted by someone later, there are foods I buy year round. Things like lemons, avocados and lettuce. Where I live (Oregon) our truly local growing season is about 4 months long so I am at the mercy of our grocery stores and a few local CSA opportunities.

So since it’s winter, my salads look very different than they would in summer. Lots of roasted veggies, crunchy lettuces and winter fruits. My ideal salad always has a fruit, a cheese, a nut and an herb and I’m thinking about balance. They don’t always, remember the word was ideal. If my greens are bitter (endive, radicchio) than I want my fruit to be sweet ( pear, apple,grapes) and my cheese to be creamy (blue, brie). If my greens are sweet (butter, green leaf) than my fruit can be tart (orange, grapefruit, green apple) and my cheese can be salty/tangy ( Chèvre, cotija). A majority of my salads are dressed with a drizzle of really good olive oil and an acid like lemon or balsamic. And of course salt and pepper. When you put all the thought and effort into good ingredients you don’t need a lot from your dressing. Eating this salad with a thick dressing would cover all the flavors. One last thing, a lot of my salads have avocado. Mostly because I’m in love with all aspects of this fruit but also because it adds a richness, a creaminess to salads that make them feel more satisfying.

So this is a recent salad we had for dinner.

 

roasted_veggie

winter_salad

 

Roasted mushrooms, cauliflower, poblano peppers (I use these in place of green bell peppers every time. More flavor, spice and nutrition)

Chopped mixed baby greens and kales

Avocado, chèvre, and pomegranate.

Lemon, olive oil, S & P

Heat your oven to 425. Chop up the veggies for roasting into smallish bite sized pieces. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast on a metal baking sheet, preferably a rimmed sheets pan. (More on this later!) Roast about 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Look for caramelization. This golden brown color is pertinent! Let them cool a bit while you assemble the rest of the salad. Feel free to make twice as many veggies as you need so you have a jump on tomorrow nights dinner of roasted veggie pasta!

Every single one of these ingredients can be swapped out for what you have in your fridge or what you love.

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Caramelized banana pancakes – gluten-free!

One of the things I finally decided to try is eating gluten-free for three months. Migraines are one of the symptoms of people with gluten sensitivity and I thought I might as well rule it out since I have tried every other treatment under the sun. I am exstatic to say it’s not gluten! I will say I’m glad to have had the experience. I  realized that there are lots of delicious gluten-free foods. My husband decided to do the three-month trial with me purely out of the kindness of his heart. We loved the crackers made of rice and nuts and I found this pancake recipe below. I do know that gluten causes inflammation in your body and that inflammation is linked to many diseases. I think we will have no problem eating a lot less gluten in our diets without feeling like we are sacrificing anything. I am happy to say that we can still splurge on ocean rolls once in a while!

This is a recipe I found on line, then tweaked a bit to make it better. It’s like a bowl of oatmeal in the shape of a pancake! Aidan (my 3 1/2 year-old son) likes to eat them cold from his hand on the go! I make a double batch and eat them all week by putting them in the toaster oven. They make great roll ups with pb&j or banana. I’m even thinking about making a savory version with herbs and spices and using them instead of bread for sandwiches or spread with cream cheese and lox.

1 cup yogurt, I use plain but anything will work
1 egg
1 banana
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1.5 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup milk
Pumpkin pie spice – or any spices you like
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Put everything in the blender. Blend till smooth batter consistency. Let the batter sit for 5-10 minutes. It will thicken up as it sits.

Optional: caramelized fruit embedded in the pancakes!

Slice some fresh fruit. Pour the batter in the pan and let it cook for a few minutes so the pancakes can set up a bit. Then lay the fruit slices on the raw side. I let the first side of the pancake cook till very set up, then flip it to finish. Never flip your pancakes more than once. Fruit I like is banana, pears, peaches, strawberries or blueberries.

Adding the bananas to the cooking pan cake

Caramelized banana pancake

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Why I wrote a love letter to my body

It feels as if it is a societal expectation. That we should feel unhappy with the way our body looks. Im speaking about young women, but I don’t really believe this is a problem that just one sex or age group is dealing with. I was a very young woman when I began to long to have a different, better body.  It became a habit/pattern to look in the mirror and grimace at the current body part that I was scrutinizing. To look for flaws instead of beauty.    I made up that to respond any different would make me look conceited.

I then spent all of my 20s abusing my body although not the way your imagination might be firing right now. My abuse came in the form of overworking it and undernourishing it. Which is extremely ironic because I was working in fine dining restaurants in LA, Paris, Milan and Germany. Surrounded by sumptuous food and yet not partaking. I worked my body for 16 hours a day for most of my 20s. I skipped most meals and forgot to drink water….for a decade. I did not have an eating disorder….at least not the classical type. I loved food, in-fact I was madly in love with it. On my days off I ate splendidly, putting a 3 course lunch at a famous Parisian restaurant on my visa card. Hey , it was my professional requirement! But when I was working my profession demanded a very high level of productivity and I simply forgot to eat. My desire to do a good job overrode all the messages my body was screaming at me. When the voice from my lower back got too loud, I took 4 ibuprofen.  Again, I made up that to stop working to eat a plate of food (even if it was eaten while standing at my station, which is how I ate the few meals I did scarf down) would make me look lazy, ungrateful etc..

I don’t know if there is a connection but I started getting horrible migraines when I was 23 and I still get them. I fought them and cursed them for the last 14 years. Then about 6 months ago I found a way to have gratitude. I had slowly learned over trickling time that I needed to eat, drink water, get good sleep, and move my body to avoid migraines that knock me out. My migraines ensure that I take extremely good care of myself. Too good….no wine 🙁

So this past August I was at Muse Camp in the postcard perfect Oregon wilderness.  I was laying on my yoga mat after an incredible workshop by Jay Fields of Grace and Grit Yoga. And it hit me. My body was not me. I was not my body. And if I thought about my body as a separate being and I thought about how I had treated that being……well all my shame came up. It was one of those smackers that make me tear up and since I was laying on my back my tears rolled down the sides of my face. And it itched. And I decided not to move (since we were in final relaxation and  I didn’t want to look like I couldn’t lay perfectly still!) I decided to just let the tears slowly leak out. I thought about all the times I had talked shit about my body, both internally and externally. I thought about all the physical abuse and neglect. But the thing that hurt the most was realizing that I had very seldom said a kind word to or about my body. And yet my body still showed up for me everyday, selflessly.  And after we were done, I stood up, grabbed my stuff, walked to a bench near blue lake, opened my journal, and wrote the first thing that came to my mind. “Love letter to my body” 8/23/14  is the header. This is what followed.

I am sorry. I am sorry for all the times I have neglected you, insulted you, harmed you, ignored you, spoke bad of you, compared you, felt smug about you.

I am sorry I haven’t really seen you, listened to you, made time for you, nurtured you, accepted you, and loved you.

I am so grateful for your strength, I am so grateful you grew my son and brought him into this world. I am so grateful you have stayed with me through all of my highs and lows. That you have risen to every challenge I have asked of you. 

I see you. I honor you. I love you. I am asking you to give me a chance to show you that I mean all of this. Love, Rose 

I then wrote out all the ways I could love my body along with a list of affirmations.

Positive Body Affirmations

I love my body

My body is just as it is today, and that is great.

My body is strong

My body is beautiful

My body supports me and I support my body

My body has wisdom, I listen to its guidance 

My body heals feely when it is taken care of

I nurture my body

I treat my body with respect. 

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