Here is a wonderful light and healthy salad/side dish. We have had this to accompany a barbecue or alongside a roast chicken instead of the usual roast veggies. It is simple and quick to prepare, tastes delicious and looks so beautiful!
Eggplant, Rocket (Arugula) and Pine Nut Salad with Yoghurt and Tahini Dressing
(serves 4 as a side dish)
What you will need:
- 2 eggplants (aubergines)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Sumac
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 crushed garlic clove (or 1 teaspoon good quality organic minced garlic)
- Sea salt and cracked pepper
- A few handfuls of baby rocket (arugula)
- 2 tablespoons parsley leaves (I use flat leaf parsley)
- 1/3 cup pine nuts (toasted)
- 1/2 cup greek yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 3 tablespoons water
- Juice of 1/2 lemon (or more if you prefer)
- 1/2 teaspoon sumac
- salt and pepper
How to pull it together:
Slice the eggplants lengthwise about 1 cm (1/4 inch) thick. (I got about 4-5 per eggplant). Sprinkle liberally with some sea salt and let sit for about 10 minutes. You will see the salt will draw out the juices from the eggplant. Wipe the salt and these juices off with a paper towel.
With a sharp knife score the eggplant diagonally.
Mix together the sumac, olive oil, garlic and a little salt and pepper. Brush over the scored eggplant. Bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit) for about 30-40 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
In the meantime, whisk or shake together the ingredients for the dressing.
Once the eggplant is cooked, lay the slices out on your serving platter. Top with rocket (arugula) and parsley and pour the dressing over. Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve!
Lunch doesn’t have to be boring, or a sandwich, or a soggy wrap, or leftovers. You certainly don’t need to fork out obscene amounts of money at a gourmet cafe for a quick healthy salad.
I am going to share a few of my favourite pull together salad ingredients in the hope that it inspires you to get creative, plan ahead and enjoy amazing lunches wherever you are during the day!
Firstly I always have a bag of mixed greens in the fridge. I love the baby salad and beetroot from woollies because before you have even done anything else you have a rainbow of vegetables to start with.
Here are some other yummy salad ingredients to think about adding – there is no end to the number of options – these are my current favourites but they do tend to change regularly!
Roast pumpkin, cauliflower, broccoli and feta salad.
Some of these suggestions like the pumpkin or tomatoes I like to make in bulk and keep them in little containers in the fridge and I make a big batch of dressing for the week too. Then pulling together a gourmet salad is incredibly quick and easy.
Some ideas for your salad:
Firstly, I always like to have a source of protein (apart from the nuts and cheese) such as chicken, leftover steak from the night before, tuna or tofu. See below for some preparation tips:
- Chicken: You can steam/poach/grill/bbq/ or fry up some chicken breast in some coconut or olive oil. Add some spices or a squeeze of lemon for some zesty flavour. I have been steaming a few breasts at the beginning of the week and we have been using in salad, as snacks etc … great source of protein. Choose free range or organic if you can …
- Tofu: I love to chop up a little bit of firm organic Tofu (make sure it is GM free) – say 75grams into little bite sized squares and cook it in some coconut oil until it goes brown and crispy – yum! You can marinate it before cooking in a little tamari or lemon juice for added flavour …
- Tinned tuna/salmon – always easy to take with you if you are on the go or at work. If you are going to use the flavoured variety check the ingredients as some are cleaner (i.e. no nasties added) than others. The lemon/pepper flavour, zesty vinaigrette or chilli ones are quite good.
- Legumes – Some well rinsed organic chick peas, cannellini beans, kidney beans or lentils are great in a salad.
Here are some other yummy extras you can think about adding:
- Chopped veggies – think capsicum, cucumber, mushrooms, tomatoes (if you aren’t using the roasted ones see below), snow peas, sprouts …
- Steamed veggies – such as broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini …
- Roast Pumpkin – chop up some pumpkin into cubes. Sprinkle with cinnamon and chilli powder and bake in the oven for 30-40 mins or until cooked to your liking. You don’t even need to spray with oil …
- Roast Tomatoes – even the shrinking hubby (who professes to hate tomatoes) loves these! I am loving the mini roma tomatoes at the moment. Slice them in half lengthways and toss in some olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper. We found a delicious basil infused olive oil which is great with the tomatoes. Bake skin side down in a 200 degree oven for about 40 minutes or until they are cooked to your liking…
- Nuts and/or seeds: Think sunflower seeds, pistachios, walnuts, pine nuts – although these are great dry roasted or tossed in a little bit of coconut oil, they are just as nice sprinkled over a salad straight from the container and add lots of nutrients, protein, good fats and yummy crunch to your salad. You can also buy seed mixes from grocers such as Harris farm or Thomas Dux for salads which are just as yummy …
- Olives – black or green add so much zest to a salad!
- Feta – those who have been following me for a while must have realised I have a serious feta fettish!! I just can’t get enough of the stuff although I (try to!) limit myself to just a little bit …
- Avocado – Avocados are just so brilliant – they provide so many essential nutrients, good fats, great for skin, hair, mood and taste so amazing. One of my favourite things!
And there are loads of options for dressings – try these – you may want to experiment with quantities as per your taste …
- This is my current favourite dressing (makes enough for about 4 salads): shake the following up in a jar: 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 teaspoon organic maple syrup, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1 tablespooon dijon mustard and some freshly ground cracked pepper.
- Other great mixes are olive oil with apple cider vinegar, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, olive oil and lemon juice.
- Try a dash of greek yoghurt with some pesto or a squeeze of lemon juice.
- Or another alternative is some tahini with some lemon juice, water, salt and pepper.
Tofu cooked up in coconut oil with olives, chick peas, avocado, broccoli, pistachios, walnuts and my dijon/maple syrup dressing
So – hopefully that is enough to get you excited about what to have for lunch! Feel free to comment below … and please if you have any suggestions of other great additions to salads please comment below or share on my facebook page www.facebook.com/theshrinkinghubby
GUILT FREE PASTA – YIPPEE!!!
If there ever was a win-win with clean, healthy, filling and totally delicious food, this dish has got to be up there at the top of the hierarchy! Pasta is one of my absolute favourite foods but because it is so high in carbs (and wheat) it’s a food group that Andrew and I have been pretty much avoiding since we began our journey. Although I must say that my obsession for spaghetti bolognese while pregnant was certainly a contributing factor to the baby weight I had to work so hard to lose afterwards!!! In the past I would always look longingly at recipes for pasta dishes knowing that I’ll probably never try them.
But I have just discovered a REAL little gem – the Betty Bossi Veggie- Twister! It is a little gadget which I found at King of Knives (kitchenware shop in Australia) (but there are plenty of similar gadgets out there) where you can stick half a zucchini into it, twist it around a bit and it creates long strands of zucchini that make the most amazing substitute for spaghetti!!!
How cool does this look???
How to prepare the zucchini (courgettes)
I used about 3 zucchinis per person. I topped and tailed them, cut them in half and let the Betty Bossi work it’s magic. I twisted the strands into a colander, and sprinkled with some Celtic sea salt and let it rest (much the same as you would salt an eggplant). It’s a good idea to put the colander onto a paper towel while you do this as it will weep considerably. After about half an hour the bitter juices have leached out and your pasta is ready to be sauced!
Dina’s Tomato Sauce
This recipe comes straight out of the Food Coach’s first cookbook. It was the first dish that Judy Davie ever taught us how to make and I will never forget it – mainly because the little techniques used make you feel nurturing and clever and the end result – DELICIOUS! Promise me you will get your hands dirty with the tomatoes – it is just FUN!!!
I must admit, the first time I made the zucchini pasta I used a good quality pasta sauce out of a jar (which was actually very delicious too!), so when I started frying up my basil for the home-made version Andrew was a little bit sceptical. Well, let’s just say I have won him over – it is now his favourite dinner!!!
What you will need:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (I confess I use 3 teaspoons organic minced garlic)
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 chilli (optional) seeded and finely sliced (I actually could have left the seeds in to give it a bit of a kick if that is your thing)
4 1/2 cups mixed fresh Italian herbs (think thyme, oregano, parsley) chopped
4 X 400 g tins whole tomatoes (try to look for no added sugar or salt)
How you make it:
Heat the oil in a large saucepan until very hot, then drop in the basil and stir with a wooden spoon until crispy. (Stand back at first it might spatter!). Add the onion, garlic, carrot, chilli and herbs and sauté until the vegetables are soft.
Tip the tomatoes into a large bowl and break into small pieces with your hands. (The reasoning behind this is that this ensures they are not so bitter as they can be if chopped up with a metal spoon and is supposed to be the secret to this dish …) Add to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer (uncovered) for 45 minutes until the liquid has thickened and is reduced by almost half. You will end up with a rich, thick, delicious sauce. (You can store the sauce in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 3 months.)
How to use the sauce with the zucchini pasta:
You don’t need to cook the zucchini, you can either toss the zucchini into the hot sauce and serve or as the sauce was quite hot we just piled some onto the zucchini pasta and let the sauce heat the zucchini as we mixed it through. You could steam the zucchini before adding the sauce I suppose – only for a minute or so though ..
To top it off I added a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan.
Seriously, how GOOD does this look????