Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini

Eggplant Parmesan Rollatini

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my absolute favorite things. Unfortunately, eggplant is right up there with Brussels sprouts for a lot of people. The bottom line is that it's important to prepare it correctly (more on that below). It doesn't take that much extra time but it will provide a better result.

My mom would make eggplant Parmesan occasionally. She'd also make chicken Parmesan. And I was such a brat that I'd complain because it wasn't eggplant.

But then I've always loved vegetables.  So, here's a cool and easy to prepare eggplant Parmesan recipe that's super light.

Watch the video:

This video doesn't have a recipe per se that I could find. So take notes when you watch it.

It's pretty light as is. So what would I change? I've become very aware of how much sugar is in things these days. I even found sugar in my Stacy's bare naked pita chips.  So before you buy your jar of marinara, check how much sugar is already in it.  Better yet, make your own. I'll make a post later this summer when I have an abundance of tomatoes on the vine begging to be made into a sauce.

How to Prepare Eggplant Well

One important thing to know is that it's essential to salt the eggplant slices and let them sit for at least fifteen or twenty minutes.  Then you can rinse off the slices and continue on with the recipe. It just makes the eggplant tastier.

Some people put the slices in a colander and then salt to make it easier to rinse off.

And others swear to salt and then put something heavy on top of the eggplant to squish out the stuff. The salt is drawing moisture out of the eggplant, and probably some other flavor. I'm not an expert or a nutritionist.  I just love growing eggplant and making Alton Brown's one pan quick eggplant parm.

As always, use the best possible ingredients that you can for the best flavor.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Spicy Asian Tilapia with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Spicy Asian Tilapia with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I was really fortunate to receive this recipe from Almas Akhtar for a spicy Asian tilapia with roasted Brussels sprouts. And she sent me pictures! She sent it via my Facebook page. If you have a recipe you'd like to share (and a link back to wherever), please let me know. I love sharing great recipes.

 

HEALTHY-SPICY-SOUTH ASIAN CUISINE

By Almas Akhtar

I am a Pakistani-American, am used to used to eating heavy curries like ‘chicken masala' and meat based rice dishes like ‘goat biryani'. Most of the Desi Pakistani curries are yogurt based, cooked in oil and chopped onions, eaten with naan( bread). Rice entrees are layered with oil, tomatoes, meat and fried onions.

Though these ‘curries' and ‘biryanis ‘ are quite rich in flavor but very high in calories.

And Her Easy Solution

So when I signed up on my fitness blog and started watching my daily calories intake I tried to create somewhat a new cuisine which is rich in south Asian spices but with very little oil and yogurt, mostly grilled or broiled. I serve it with fresh salad or stir fried vegetables to maintain the flavor and keep it low in calories.

Three Inspiring Ideas

Broiled Tilapia with spicy 🌶 masala served over fresh greens salad 🥗 approximately 135 calories in one servingRoasted Brussels Sprouts

Stir fried peas in chaat masala ( spicy powder) approximately 58 calories 1 cup

Grilled chicken cubes on a skewer served with fresh cucumbers 🥒 approximately 120 calories

 

The Calorie Myth Review

The Calorie Myth Review

The Calorie Myth goes by a few different names

Originally, I got a mailer from Rodale for a book called Eat More Lose More by Jonathan Bailor. I found it used on Amazon and it's been an interesting read. I should note that in the copyright area, it states that it was published as The Smarter Science of Slim by Aavia Publishing in 2012 and The Calorie Myth in 2104.

Since most of us would find it on Amazon as The Calorie Myth, I'll continue to refer to it as that. But the book is the same.

Mr Bailor is a nutrition researcher and wellness entrepreneur. His passion for helping people does come through in his writing.

The Beginning

The first fifteen chapters (or 138 pages in my hardbound book) deal with the problem of obesity in the United States. He claims it goes back to January 14, 1977 when the government issued Dietary Goals for American. After that, obesity skyrocketed.

Let's be honest. People made fun of Atkins because it called for 65% of the diet to be fat. Well the Food Pyramid in 1977 called for 65% of the diet to be carbohydrates without mentioning what kinds.

So what really is a balanced diet?

The Calorie

I have to confess. I used to be an electrical engineer. I used to believe that all calories were the same. After all, energy is energy, right? Even after I saw the light, I couldn't convince my own father…another electrical engineer.

Anyway, if you're also a nerd, yes, energy in and energy out and all. But, calories get burned differently. That's where we've been making our mistakes. We assume that if we eat 100 calories of a cookie, it's going to be the same as 100 calories of raw vegetables.

But think about it. How much more energy does it take to eat the darn vegetables than it does the cookie? And do we feel satisfied?

You Need Fat

We need to embrace fat to feel satisfied after a meal. You actually eat less when you're feeling full.

My main message from this blog has been to avoid anything that cuts out a single food. I don't trust those kinds of diets since I don't think they're sustainable.

So I like this book in that it talks about the healthy fats and good proteins.

What Is SANE?

Mr. Bailor has come up with an acronym to help you choose what to eat.

Satiety: Choose foods that will make you feel full
Aggression: Choose foods that will not aggressively be converted to fat in your body
Nutrition: Choose foods that are healing and dense in important nutrients
Efficient: Choose foods that do not store fats efficiently in your body

I confess to learning a lot about how food is processed in the body. I have insulin resistance and am looking for that single key that will heal me.  The truth is it's a process of putting in the right stuff and eliminating the bad stuff.

I also really loved learning about the idea of a “naturally” thin person and remember back when I was eating more simply. I'd heard about the “set point” theory of weight. Mr. Bailor talks about resetting your set point, and it makes sense to me. You're just unclogging the drain.

Limited Exercise?

This is where I disagree with Mr. Bailor. I was reading about how our natural hormones change as we lose muscle mass. I think it's essential that we do regular weight training to maintain our muscles, if not build them back up.

And I don't think 20 minutes a week is going to do that.

There is a school of thought out there that vigorous exercise increases cortisol. I think you need to figure out your own body. But I know mine is much happier when I'm doing regular weights three times a week and walking daily. I have a fitbit and try to get 10k steps or more. (Dang. I'm only 7661 steps today & it's almost bedtime)

Conclusion

I think The Calorie Myth is a worthwhile read if you're interested in the biology and physiology and how calories are processed at the cellular level.

There's a great list of substitutions…I learned a few good tips.

The recipes and five week plan are OK. I don't think it's anything earth-shattering. I'm not thrilled he suggests Xylitol for sweetener. I prefer stevia.

But, what I do love about the recipes is that there are SANE options and the SANEist options. So you can see where there's wiggle room.

Sausage Gravy Breakfast Lasagna

Sausage Gravy Breakfast Lasagna

I am posting this video for sausage gravy breakfast lasagna not because it looks great. I'm still not convinced. But I'm posting it because there are some great lessons for learning how to cook yourself thin.

First, watch the video and see if you can find the lessons.

And you can find the full recipe at the Food Network.

What Would I Change

Where do you think I would start?  Right! They didn't drain the sausage. There's a huge amount of grease in there because of the sausage.  So first off, drain the sausage.

Yes, to make a good gravy, you'll want some of that sausage fat to mix with the flour in order to make a good roux. But there are some better ways to manage that. I'd consider draining it into a container and then measure out what you need.

And since this is a sausage gravy breakfast lasagna, you definitely want great gravy.

More Veggies

I would probably use two layers of the lasagna noodles….the bottom and the middle layer…and then add in two layers of zucchini cut into thin flat noodles.

You could do a blend of spinach and kale if you like kale.  I don't have to mention I don't care for kale.  Although, I'm learning to appreciate it a bit more after having it in some soup.

And I'd also add in some mushrooms since I love them. It gives a lovely texture and flavor.

Change Up the Protein

You could easily make this lasagna with tofu or turkey sausage. If you use tofu, use something like a soy chorizo to give it more of a breakfast flavor.  I'd also add in some scrambled eggs to make it feel more like breakfast.

What do you think? Would you like the sausage gravy breakfast lasagna?

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Sauces Add Flavor Instead of Fat

Sauces Add Flavor Instead of Fat

Sauces can be a great way to add flavor instead of fat when finishing a plate of delicious food. It can add that extra delicious mouth feel that improves your feeling of satisfaction.

I love a bit of Bearnaise or Horseradish with my steaks. (I add in unsweetened whipped cream too my horseradish sauce so it's lighter)  I don't need a lot and it makes me happy.

Making Bearnaise

I usually buy Knorr Bearnaise sauce mix in a packet and make that. But since I'm accountable to you all and touting cooking more from scratch, I made it on my own the other day. Disaster doesn't quite describe it. I made a few mistakes.

I was making it with my stick blender and I couldn't find the beaker. So I was using an old Tupperware container that fell over and spilled out 2/3 of the sauce.  Then I knocked it over again and spilled out 1/2 of what was left.  However, the final product was super delicious. But I'm still trying to clean up egg on my stovetop.

Chimichurri and Variations

My latest find is Chimichurri sauce. It adds an amazing herb flavor to the beef that's refreshing. Just one note…this is not a classic Argentinian Chimichurri sauce. I liked this one because it was more herbs and less oil, and I liked the flavor combinations with adding in lime juice and cilantro.  Remember, if you are allergic to cilantro (ptoi! soap!), add in other herbs.

And watch how easy it is to make when the meat is resting.

This is also great on fish and chicken.

What are your favorite sauces? Leave me a comment and let's look at how to either lighten them up or make them more flavorful so you can enjoy less.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

This recipe for Buffalo cauliflower mac and cheese is going to be a slight cautionary tale. Sometimes you'll see recipes like this and think “Ooooh, it must be healthy if they added cauliflower into it, right?”  I wish I could say “right” but I can't.

It's a neat recipe. Watch the video and then let's discuss how to lighten it up.

What Would I Change

I should like to point out that this recipe is 8-10 servings. But if it's a side, you would probably want to get about 16 servings out of it and keep the portion size to a cup or less.  So while I first thought it was a ton of macaroni, when I balance it that way, it's not as bad.

I'd probably still reduce the amount of macaroni and increase the cauliflower. And I think I'd rice some of the cauliflower. The big chunks are delicious. I just think you could bulk it up a bit more.

I would replace the half and half with evaporated milk. You get a creamier consistency with far less fat and calories.

Next, I would probably use one pound of shredded Mexican blend cheese rather than a pound and a half of cheese. I love my cheesy goodness, believe me. This is probably an area where you'd need to test it out for your personal preferences.

And I'd serve this with celery stalks for extra fiber and the cooling factor. Call me a wuss but that seemed like a lot of hot sauce. I suspect different areas of the country have different tolerances for different hot sauces. I can handle a little Tabasco and a little of the Buffalo hot sauce. But being in California, I can eat hot salsa with a spoon. And I love sriracha in most things.

What do you enjoy? Leave a comment and let me know.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Cheesy Eggplant Crust Pizza

Cheesy Eggplant Crust Pizza

We've talked about cauliflower for pizza crust, but how about cheesy eggplant crust? It never even occurred to me that you could use eggplant for a pizza crust. So imagine how much fun I had watching this video and seeing how easy it is.

Now I'm odd in that I really do enjoy eggplant. I know some perceive of it as “slimy.” Salting and letting them sit for at least 15 minutes helps improve the texture.

Eggplants are related to tomatoes and potatoes as part of the nightshades.  Sometimes I think it's cool to toss in a factoid.

What Would I Change

Well, that really is a lot of cheese. And I would want some other fresh vegetables on top like mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, and onions.  Heck you could make a ratatouille pizza.

And I think it would go great with ham or pepperoni. I mean, you're kind of turning it into a flatbread. So put on whatever your favorite toppings happen to be that day.

I also love artichoke hearts.

You could probably go very lightly on the mozzarella cheese with a sprinkling of Parmesan. Then bake it, put on toppings and some additional cheese, and bake it a little more. Feta cheese could go either way, but I think I'd enjoy putting it on after the baking is finished.

Another idea is to use beans, cheddar, tomatoes and finish with shredded lettuce for a tostada.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.​​​​​​​

Italian Seasoned Meatballs

Italian Seasoned Meatballs

Italian seasoned meatballs aren't only for spaghetti. They can be the base for many delicious and healthy meals. And they make great leftovers.

Get inspired watching the video.

What Would I Change

You should use low fat beef. And after you cook the meatball, make sure you drain as much of the fat off as you can. Also, don't forget to make your own blend of meat.  Learn to play with the seasonings so you can adjust it to your taste. And use higher quality salt.

You could use turkey like in this Turkey Meatball Stroganoff recipe. She recommends doing butternut squash noodles in place of pasta noodles if your'e going low carb.

Make In A Slow Cooker

You can cook meatballs by themselves or in a sauce using a slow cooker. If you're cooking them alone, you need to put the meatballs on a rack, and put in some water in the bottom. After they're done, you may want to quickly pop them under the broiler to get a bit of crust.

Some recipes call for lightly cook (or par-cook) the meatball before putting in the sauce and slow cooking on low for 1-2 hours like these slow cooker enchilada meatballs. Or Betty Crocker's version of cheese stuffed Italian meatballs. Or this version of Buffalo chicken meatballs (now you know what else to do with ground chicken).

Otherwise, there are many wonderful ways to cook the meatballs in a sauce. Many people use marinara for a classic spaghetti and meatballs.  You can also use beer to make Bavarian meatballs.

How to Make Low Carb

Meatballs can be great if you're on the Primal diet. Here's an easy recipe for Paleo meatballs in a marinara sauce cooked in the slow cooker. Just remember not to use breadcrumbs. Instead look for almond or rice flour for your binder.

She served hers over what looks like roasted and shredded cabbage which sounds delicious. But then she talks about white sweet potatoes.  Either way, you'll be full and satisfied.

Easy Homemade Sausage

Easy Homemade Sausage

Making homemade sausage is easier than you think. And the results are a lot tastier and healthier for you.

In the recipe at Cooking Light, they suggest using pre-ground meat. Now I took a class once where we ground the pork, mixed in the seasonings, and then filled casings. And yes, we giggled a lot.

The nice thing about using the casings is that you can make vegetarian sausage as well as fish based sausage more easily.

Going Simple and Easy

However, if you're just making some simple sausage without casings, I think getting pre-ground meat is awesome. You could blend ground turkey or ground chicken for a lower fat homemade sausage.

Don't buy the pre-seasoned ground meats, though. You want to control the seasoning to your taste.

Seasoning Homemade Sausage

And it's not just for breakfast sausage. You could also make Italian seasoned sausage for lasagna and spaghetti and manicotti. Or, you could make Mexican seasoned sausage for burritos or tacos. And you can add it into soups or stir it up with beans (just don't forget the veggies).

I'd recommend making a small amount of seasoning, and mix it into a little bit of the sausage. Then cook it up and decide if you need more or less. This is also something you can do a day or two ahead of time. Then mix the meat with the proper level of seasonings and it's ready for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner.

Making homemade sausage ensures that you know what's in it. If you're cutting out sugar, some sausage makers put in sugar for flavoring. Sometimes, sausage makers put in organ meats. You control what goes in.

Use your butcher to help you. If you want to buy a blend of meats, you can ask the butcher to grind them together for you. It saves you time and you get exactly what you want.

But, if this inspires you, get a meat grinder and go to town.  I have the meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachment for my Kitchen Aid. You can order casings online if you can't find any local. Ask your butcher.

Resources

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.

Much Ado About Root Vegetables

Much Ado About Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are still in season at the moment I'm writing this. Don't turn up your nose at the turnip.  It's a wonderful and inexpensive vegetable that can be a great part of your meals.

How to Choose the Vegetables

If you buy organic, the veggies won't be completely free of blemishes. Some find that organic veggies taste better. I subscribe to a CSA and I have a garden. Since I grow in self watering containers, you might think I won't get as good of root vegetables as if they were in the ground. But you'd be surprised!

Plus some like celery root and kohrabi look pretty crazy to begin with.

So how do you choose? Well they should be firm and a bit springy in general. Secondly, it depends upon what you want to do with them.

There are two types of root vegetables – older and younger. The young root vegetables can be good raw or lightly cooked. I have some young turnips that I'm going to steam. You can think of these like new potatoes. They're best when kept fresher.

The older root vegetables are better roasted or stewed.

Watch this fun video with Jamie Oliver. I adore him and saw him live once about ten years ago making risotto and pasta.

But What About Radishes?

Ok, you got me. There are root vegetables that are grand raw like radishes, carrots and jicama. But they do fall sort of into the younger category. If you have old radishes, you should try roasting them rather then trying to slice them for a salad.

Root vegetables are quite nutrient dense. You can make a lovely vegetable soup or stew out of them and feel quite satisfied. I use kohrabi and celery root (also called celeriac) in place of potatoes sometimes and you can't taste the difference.

If I have a younger celery root, I'll dice it up and cook it with my eggs in the morning and I don't miss potatoes.

Roasting vegetables brings out a sweeter side to them. So be careful of seasonings and sauces if you serve roasted vegetables.  You can also roast veggies and puree them as the side to the meat rather then putting the vegetables directly on the plate. Also, if you have leftover roast veggies, you can puree and then thin it out with some broth for a lovely soup.

Start by adding in one weird root vegetable and see what you think.

Cook Yourself Thin is the resource hub for women 35-55 looking to lose stubborn pounds by cooking and eating the foods you love.