Monday, August 11, 2008

Interesting Vegetables: Part Five

As I mentioned on Thursday, there's been precious little going on in my kitchen these last few days. We did manage to eat at home on Friday night, but as I can't recall what we had, it couldn't have been too exciting. I've been out and about again this weekend: visiting a friend's beach house one day and another spent out in the wilds of New Jersey at the home of one of the husband's colleagues. We were blessed with a magnificent day weather-wise and the party was altogether lovely. Many of the guests hadn't seen me since last November and I was thrilled to be complimented on my weight-loss. I even donned my bathing suit -in public! - and partook of the glorious hot tub and swimming pool ... which is totally out of character for me and something I would not have felt comfortable doing were it not for my recent success on this diet. I've lost 20.5 pounds and I couldn't be happier about it!

That being said, I wasn't particularly faithful to the South Beach this weekend and, as it turns out, it doesn't much matter. I've learned not to stress the social occasions and by giving myself permission to *not* worry about it, I think I've been better off. Yes, I had a hot dog, some bread products and even a dessert or two along the way, but I still lost weight last week and I'm down another 1/2 pound today after the weekend. When "dieting" ... and boy do I dislike that term ... I think its important to view the week as a whole and not get too wrapped up in being perfect every single day. I tend to "eat clean" 95 to 99% of the time and not sweat the other small percent. If I have to eat out, or attend a party, I eat what I want when I'm there and I return to the South Beach the following day - 100%. I'm also pretty religious about my exercise program and will tend to ramp it up both prior to and following a social function. This works for me and my sense is that it works this way for others too.

Keeping up with my vegetable intake has been a key component of my weight-loss strategy ... and doing so can be a challenge when eating out or attending parties. I like to ramp up the veggies following any enhanced dining occasions and this weekend was certainly no exception. Our trip to New Jersey included a stop at a farm stand and we stocked up on the spectacular Jersey tomatoes, cukes, native corn (not SB approved, but I don't care!) and some really beautiful eggplant. My counter tops runneth over with the bounty of the earth this week and that makes me happy!

Last night I put two of the eggplants to good use by making a delicious Baba Ghanouj. I have no idea how authentic this recipe is ... I just kept adding things until it tasted good to me. By now you know that that's the way I cook - and that's the way I encourage you to cook as well. Feel free to experiment here and make it your own.

Baba Ghanouj:

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium sized eggplants, halved lengthwise
  • 3 tbsp. tahini paste
  • juice of one large lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced*
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • dash of sriracha or Tobasco sauce, optional
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Place the eggplants, cut side down, on a generously oiled rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven for @ 45 minutes, until the eggplant is very soft and the cut sides are well caramelized. Allow the eggplant to cool enough so that you can handle them and, using a soup spoon, scoop out all of the flesh from the skins. No need to be perfect here, if you get a little skin mixed in with the pulp, no biggie. Discard the empty skins and place the cooked pulp in the bowl of a food processor.

Process on high until nearly smooth. To the eggplant, add the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, mint, parsley, cumin and the hot sauce if desired. Process on high until all ingredients are combined and a thick puree is formed. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding the salt and pepper as desired. Pulse again to combine. Transfer the baba ghanouj to a small bowl and serve immediately or cover and chill if you prefer. Enjoy!

I like to serve the baba ghanouj as a dip for raw red and yellow bell peppers or with some whole grain pita chips that I've made myself. I use Ezekiel brand pita pockets - simply split them in half, cut into wedges and toast in the toaster oven until crisp and pale golden brown. Delicious!

* In retrospect, I wish I had chosen to roast the garlic prior to adding it to the eggplant. If you're wary of the flavor of raw garlic, I do suggest using the roasted or reducing the raw garlic to one clove. As written this will yield a very garlic-y dip. S'ok for me, but your mileage may vary, of course.

Happily, this leaves me two eggplants just begging to be fashioned into a South Beach Friendly eggplant parm. Guess what's on the menu for tonight? Stay tuned!


pixelgal said...

Atta girl, Diva dear. The husband of me actually noticed your weight loss and commented on how focused you are and the success of the program in such a short time. And you have just the right balance of south beach and life which many do not. You are an example to us all.


The Diva on a Diet said...

I dunno about being an example ... but I do hope I'm offering a perspective of dietary sanity in a diet-crazed world!

Tell the husband of you ... thanks, from me!


Deb said...

Congrats on the 20.5 lbs gone! I know it's a hard thing to do and achieving balance while losing is certainly admirable. The baba sounds delish and very authentic and you can never have too much garlic!

Next tie you toast the pitas try tossing with olive oil and some spices for an added treat. I saw it done on a Food network show The Hearty Boys (don't think they are on anymore). They were fisrt season winners of their own food network show. They were caterers and their munchy food was terrific!

Happy cooking (and eating)


Sorry, I draw the line at eggplant. There's something so odd tasting about it or maybe it's just because my taste buds have gone all strange. Besides, whenever anyone says "eggplant" you've just gotta laugh haven't you?

But congrats on the weight loss! That's a good deal - I think I'd be a rake if I lost that much! Actually no, I just don't know my conversions (I hated my maths teacher. Blame him!)

Godd to see you're back as well. But surely you're not THAT old - suddenly I'm discovering that all of my readers are soooo much older than me and I'm thinking "how on earth can you reply if you're at least 10 years older than me?!"

Heh, I better stop there!

Scarlet x

The Diva on a Diet said...

Thanks for the congrats, girls! I appreciate it. :)

Deb - I have that Hardy Boys cookbook. One of my friends works for the house that published it. I will def. spice up the pita chips for fun next time.

Scarlet - we have much in common ... math is not my strong suit either! We differ on the eggplant though I do agree its a funny word. Next time you're in NYC, drop by and let me convert you to the joys of eggplant parmesan! ;)

Tracy said...

I'm convinced that great minds think alike... I made baba ghanouj last week too!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Hi Tracy! 'Tis the season for very fresh eggplant. Yum! Great minds think alike indeed. :)