The winning recipe for Battle Eggplant at the Frank house

We had a fun cooking challenge at our house this Christmas that we dubbed Battle Eggplant in honor of the original Japanese version of Iron Chef. I gave each of my adult children and their partners an eggplant and challenged them to come up with original dishes in one hour, using any ingredients they could find in our kitchen. I wrote recently about the recipe my son and his wife created, Jerusalem Eggplant Surprise.

Jenny and Daniel creating their winning eggplant dip recipe.
Jenny and Daniel creating their winning eggplant dip recipe.

This spot gives you the recipe for my daughter and her friend Daniel’s winning recipe, an eggplant dip.

Here is her description and the recipe, as best she remembers it. Ingredients were flying out of our spice cabinet fast and furious during that hour, so you may have to experiment a bit to find the exact recipe ingredient amounts. Continue reading “The winning recipe for Battle Eggplant at the Frank house”

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A low-salt, low-fat Thanksgiving dinner — start your planning today

Thanksgiving is only a few days away, time to start planning how you’ll make it a low-salt, low-fat day but still enjoy traditional items like turkey and even mashed potatoes.

Time to eat all those turkeys! Happy Thanksgiving!
Time to eat all those turkeys! Buy a fresh one to cut salt that comes in self-basting, frozen ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

It takes a little smart shopping and a lot of recipe tweaking, but you can do it and I can show you how.

Check some of my past posts on low-salt side dishes, how to find a low-salt turkey, how to make low-salt stuffing and other tips to cut the salt. Continue reading “A low-salt, low-fat Thanksgiving dinner — start your planning today”

Baby carrots more ways than you can imagine

Baby carrots are a simple yet tasty side dish. I steam them for dinner or eat them raw as a nibble food when we have guests over. I’ve also posted a recipe to turn them into a salad.

So I was excited to see this Food Network post about 14 ways to use baby carrots. Some of these are just plain wacky. Carrot freezer pops? Well maybe.

Carrot freezer pops? Not sure how tasty these would be.
Carrot freezer pops? Not sure how tasty these would be.

Carrot juice is not my cup of tea (pun intended). And the glazed carrots involve butter which I don’t eat any longer. I may try them with just the honey or maybe with some olive oil first and then the honey to get a healthy fat on them. Continue reading “Baby carrots more ways than you can imagine”

Roasted broccoli and green bean recipes

Broccoli and green beans are two of my favorite side dishes but I’m always looking for ways to add flavor to them because, honestly, they can get boring after a while.

So I was excited to find these two recipes from former Biggest Loser trainer Jillan on her website. The first roasts broccoli with olive oil and lemon. Leave out the salt in the recipe,

 

Put the trimmed broccoli in the steamer basket, cover and set the timer to the recommended cooking time.
Put the trimmed broccoli in the steamer basket, cover and set the timer to the recommended cooking time.

As usual, add the pepper if you like it.

 

The recipe calls for roasting in the oven but this could easily be made on an outdoor grill for summer too.

Continue reading “Roasted broccoli and green bean recipes”

Grilling season is here — how about grilled salad?

Grilling is a summer favorite. I’ve done grilled vegetables like zucchini for parties and for our consumption over the years. But I never thought of grilling a salad until I saw this in Bon Apetit recently.

Grilled vegetables
Grilled vegetables can work well on a salad too, try them.

I would modify this recipe. Take out the salt, of course. I’d also eliminate the avocado and the pistachios because I don’t like either. If you do, keep them. I’d substitute in some grilled asparagus and grilled portobello mushrooms along with grilled zucchini too.

I like the idea of grilling tomato, I’ve done that for shish kabobs with white meat chicken, using cherry tomatoes which hold up better on the heat than if you tried to slice a regular tomato and use that. Continue reading “Grilling season is here — how about grilled salad?”

Roasted baby potatoes — a tasty and simple-to-make side dish

Roasted potatoes are a simple but flavorful side dish perfect for summer grilling, or making indoors if you don’t have an outside kitchen.

This simple potato recipe provides a fun summer side dish.
This simple potato recipe provides a fun summer side dish.

I found a simple Rachel Ray recipe that uses rosemary as its principle spice. I started with a mixture of baby Yukon gold and baby red potatoes. If you’re watching your sugar, red potatoes are better for you. Cut the potatoes in half and put them on a cookie sheet or whatever you use for outdoor cooking. Continue reading “Roasted baby potatoes — a tasty and simple-to-make side dish”

Asparagus cooking, storing tips to help save money

Asparagus is a veggie I’ve been eating a lot more of since my 2012 angioplasty. But it can be expensive, $3 a pound and more, so I tend to only buy it on sale. Whatever the price, I’m always up for tips on how to prepare it and how to preserve it longer so I don’t waste as much, part of my new push for better meal planning.

So I was pleased to see some tips from my supermarket chain Jewel that I actually found helpful rather than silly as I do many cooking and food tips from food stores.

Asparagus area  great side dish.
Asparagus area great side dish.

You can read the tips here. I never knew the one about wrapping the bottom of asparagus in a damp paper towel to help it last longer in the frig.

I also liked the advice about cooking at high heat and pre-heating a baking sheet, both of which I’ll try.

I like topping asparagus with low-salt panko breadcrumbs and putting them under a broiler to crisp.

You can find other asparagus recipes in a post I wrote about 25 veggie cooking ideas.
John

Vegetables don’t have to be dull; here are 25 alternatives

Eating more vegetables has been a way of life for me the past two and half years since my 2012 angioplasty. Indeed, the first nutritionist I saw wanted me to become a vegetarian. I didn’t go that extreme but I am eating a lot more vegetables and so have been looking for more interesting ways to make the same broccoli, asparagus and green beans. I have some recipes on my recipe page that bring fun twists to these.

But recently I got a posting from thekitchn.com headlined 25 Simple Green Sidedishes that I thought would be worth exploring. It breaks down recipes by grilled, steamed, sauteed and raw so you can match your favorite cooking technique with your favorite veggie and find something new here.

Grilled cabbage with a lime dressing, leave out the salt.
Grilled cabbage with a lime dressing, leave out the salt.

Most of the recipes I scanned include salt. I would simply leave that out. If you’re watching sugar, beware of the ones calling for sugar as well. Some have cheese too, so if you’re watching fat, find fat-free cheese alternatives.

I tended to be most interested in the grilled/roasted category. A garlic broccoli appealed to me as did grilled cabbage wedges. Some recipes included bacon, again leave that out if you’re worried about fat, or a vegetarian like my first nutritionist!

John

Low-fat mashed potatoes — here’s how

One traditional Thanksgiving dish I’ve largely given up since my angioplasty is mashed potatoes. The milk and butter in them carry too much fat for my low-fat diet.

This year, though, my wife challenged me to make mashed potatoes that were low-fat. And I did with results that pleased her but left me with mixed feelings about their taste.

My low-fat mashed potatoes after whipping them with a hand mixer. Start by skinning and cutting potatoes into chucks to boil. When soft put them ina  bowl and add fat-free milk and Smart Balance to reach the desired creaminess.
My low-fat mashed potatoes after whipping them with a hand mixer. Start by skinning and cutting potatoes into chucks to boil. When soft, put them in a bowl and add fat-free milk and Smart Balance to reach the desired creaminess.

I started by using fat-free milk instead of regular or even 1%. Note that a cup of fat-free milk has 135 mgs of sodium for some reason that escapes me, so even there you have salt to deal with. I doubt I used a cup on five pounds of potatoes though. I don’t measure it in, just keep adding to get to the creaminess I want for the potatoes.

Instead of butter, I used Smart Balance which one nutritionist recommended to me. I actually used a variety called Smart Balance Light which has less sodium, only 80 mgs a tablespoon and 5 grams of fat. I used about four tablespoons, so there was still 20 grams of fat in the five pounds of potatoes. Continue reading “Low-fat mashed potatoes — here’s how”

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