Friday, September 24, 2010

eggplant and lentil curry

Until about 2 years ago I think I had eaten eggplant approximately 2-3 times in my life.  That all changed when I lived with Lindsay during our dietetic internship.  She loves eggplant.  So each week we would split an eggplant and use it however we needed it.  I quickly discovered that unless it was battered and fried (eggplant parm.) I really didn't like it.  So after a couple weeks of trying to cover up the flavor of eggplant in my stir-fry, I finally admitted to Lindsay that I did not like it.

Fast forward to this spring.  Being the RD that I am I decided to give eggplant a second try.  (FYI-sometimes you have to try something 10 times before you learn to like it.)  This time I grilled it on the george-foreman.  It was wonderful! If ever you want to try a new vegetable but do not know what to do with it, grill it.  Olive oil, salt, pepper, and 10 minutes; that's all it takes to make a great side dish.

Last weekend we obtained 5 small homegrown eggplants from a friend's garden.  We grilled three of them with dinner earlier this week, but today I noticed that last two were getting a bit soft.  My Cooking Light cookbook provided me with a wonderful recipe for a vegetarian curry that would not only use up the eggplants, but also some leftover lentils.  The basic recipe goes like this:

Ingredients: 1 Tbs olive oil, 1 medium onion diced, 2 tsp curry powder (garam masala), 2-3 small eggplants peeled and cut into 1" pieces, 2 tsp grated fresh ginger, 2 cloves garlic minced, 1 can diced tomatoes, 3 3/4  cups water, 1 cup dry lentils, 2 bay leaves, 1 large zucchini cut into 1" pieces, 1tsp kosher salt.

1.  Heat oil in a large dutch oven or big skillet.  Add onion and curry powder, saute for 3 minutes on medium high.
2. Add the eggplant, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes, cook for 7 minutes until the eggplant begins to soften.  3. Add the water, lentils, and bay leaves, simmer partially covered for 15 minutes.
4. Add the salt and zucchini, simmer covered an additional 10 minutes until the zucchini softens.  Serve as is or ladle over your favorite cooked whole grain.  Serves 4-6.

I didn't really expect much for this dish, but wow is it good!  The eggplant gets nice and soft and the lentils make it really hearty.  The flavor is excellent as well.  For anyone wanting to experiment with lentils or eggplant, this would be a perfect first dish.  Plus it's fairly easy to put together.  I have a feeling this would be a big hit at a fall/winter dinner party or family gathering.  Try freezing it in small batches and take them to work for a filling lunch.

Without serving it over a grain, and if serving 6 people, the nutritional values are as follows:
200 kcal, 3g fat, 35g carb, 16g fiber, 11g protein,  (sodium is <400mg, but will vary depending upon the type of canned tomatoes, I use no salt added).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

corn sugar coat it

The corn sugar farmers want to change the name of 'High Fructose Corn Syrup' to 'Corn Sugar.'  Why?  Because people heard all the bad press about HFCS and stopped buying products containing it.  Even if this legislation does go through, I really hope the people who made the healthful choice to abstain from HFCS are not fooled by the corn growers sneaky tricks.

Sugar is sugar, from corn, beets, or sugar cane, it's still sugar.  And guess what? Contrary to popular belief, you do not actually need any in your diet.  That's right, none.  While the American Dietetic Association says that consuming 10% of you daily calories from refined sugar is just fine and considered "in moderation," I disagree.  And to let the corn grower's association try and cover up and change the name from HFCS to Corn Sugar is very dubious.

For more on why HFCS is such a nasty product, refer back to one of my previous posts on moderation.