Eggplant – The Garden Egg

Eggplants (called an aubergine in some places) were named in the 18th century by farmers who thought they looked like goose eggs. In some places they still resemble the shape and size of goose or hen eggs.

To cook an eggplant, wash and cut off the ends. Use a stainless steel knife, as other knives will make it turn black. Even then it needs a salt water bath or brushing with lemon juice. Many cooks like to salt eggplant before cooking it. This process takes the bitter juices out of the plant, and gets rid of air pockets in the flesh that enable it to absorb a lot of oil.

To salt it, peel it and then cut however it will be used in the recipe. Sprinkle the pieces with salt, and put them into a colander for about an hour. Rinse off the salt and squeeze out as much moisture as possible, and pat dry with paper towels.

Small ones are tasty either with or without their skin. But the larger ones have tough skins that you probably won’t want to eat. To remove the skin, you can either peel before cooking, or spoon the flesh out of the skin after it is baked.

When it is sliced, it easily absorbs oil. That’s why it is often coated with batter or bread crumbs, (or both) and then fried in preheated oil.

There are many other ways to eat eggplant – baked, roasted, steamed, marinated, stuffed, grilled, in a casserole, or in stews. Any way you cook it, you can offer your family a new taste treat!

Food Names And Terms

If you don’t know some of the food names and terms that you come across on the Internet, this list may help you. There are many more, and we’ll be adding as we go along. You may be surprised with some of them. I always thought “antipasto” had something to do with pasta!

AMANDINE is a name given to dishes that are made or garnished with almonds. Vegetables that are commonly made this way are green beans and asparagus, and some pastries.

ANTIPASTO means “before the meal” and is usually a plate of various kinds of appetizers, including meats, vegetables and cheeses. It is traditionally the official start of a formal Italian meal.

ARUGULA, also known as rocket, is a green leafy vegetable, and also used the same ways as lettuce. It is exceptionally healthy, and is considered to be a powerful aphrodisiac.

BLINTZ is a type of thin pancake similar to crepes, and has different fillings, sweet and savory. It also means to break up foods quickly, such as in a food processor.

BRAISING is a method of cooking with both moist and dry heat. The food is seared and then cooked in liquid. This is economical for cooking less expensive cuts of meat, and is convenient because it just uses one pan. Pot roast is a good example of this kind of cooking.

CAFÉ AU LAIT is a French term meaning coffee served with half milk and half coffee.

CHICKEN FRICASSEE is a popular chicken dish. It is made by cutting the chicken into serving size pieces, gently searing it, then cooking it in a sauce. This is a good method for cooking older chickens, such as a hen, as it makes them very tender.

CLAFOUTIS or CLAFOUTI (kla-foo-TEE) is a classic French dessert traditionally made with black cherries, but can be made with many different kinds of fruit.

CLARIFYING removes water from butter and other fat to make a clear liquid.

CORNICHONS (KOR-nee-shons) are very small pickled gherkins, a kind of cucumber (no more than two inches long).

CRÈME FRAÎCHE, a staple of French cuisine, is similar to sour cream and yogurt, but creamier and just slightly tangy. It can be used in many different ways, including as a substitute for mayonnaise. Sometimes hard to find in stores, but can be easily made at home.

CRUDITES are an assortment of raw vegetables, including carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, and celery. They are served before a meal with a dip.

DEGLAZING, also called “fond” is a method of getting brown bits off the bottom of a pan after food has been fried, sauteed or roasted. Cold liquid is poured into a very hot pan, then it is stirred and the bottom of the pan is scraped to get all the browned pieces into the liquid, giving it more flavor. This is a method often used when making gravy.

DULCE DE LECHE is a rich caramel-like sauce made by heating sweetened condensed milk until it gets thick and looks like caramel. The Internet has various recipes for making it at home.

GRENADINE is a red syrup that used to be made strictly with pomegranates, but now there are many imitations. It is most popular as a coloring and sweetener for cocktails, but it also has other uses, including being added to cold non-alcoholic drinks.

MEUNIERE is a term for dredging foods with flour and then sautéing in butter. It can also be a sauce made of brown butter, chopped parsley and lemon.

PLANKED – salmon grilled on a thick hardwood plank.

POLENTA is a kind of mush made with cornmeal or farina. It can be eaten plain, and is often baked, fried or grilled. It is also gluten-free.

PROFITEROLE is a tiny cream puff. It can be either a dessert or have a savory filling, and is often served as an hors d’oeuvre.

ROULADES are typically made with a slice of meat rolled around a filling, such as cheese, vegetables, or other meats. But they can also be made into a dessert, similar to a jellyroll.

ROUX is usually a mixture of equal parts of butter and flour to thicken soups and sauces. The most common use is making a white sauce. Other kinds of fat canbe used, such as meat fats when making gravy.

SOPAPILLAS (soh-pi-PEE-yuhs) are a deep fried pastry that look like miniature pillows. They are usually served with honey or a syrup, but can also be filled with refried beans or other savory ingredients.

ZABAGLIONE (zah-bahl-YOH-nay) is a custardy Italian dessert made with beaten eggs and wine, and served with fresh fruit or berries.

Diet Meal Plans

The sheer number of diet meal plans on television and in print media can make the would-be-dieter’s head spin. Which diet is right for me? Will I like the foods? Is there a support system? Can I afford this program? How about nutrition? These are just a few of the issues that dieters face.

Don’t discount these meal plans. Check out the cost and read the specifics.  Some of the best known plans like Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, and WeightWatchers have been very successful for so many dieters and have highly visible spokespersons whose successful use of the program is very persuasive for those of us wishing to look that good too. These structured diet meal plans have been deemed to give an advantage to many dieters by The Journal of the American Medical Association over the self – help type dieting meals.  They might just be the thing for you.While many commercial diet meal plans require an up front financial investment, they do offer convenience of time, effort, and nutritional soundness since the foods and menus are chosen and packaged for you and planned by registered dieticians.   If the program cost is not prohibitive and good nutrition standards are met, then a commercial diet meal plan may be right for you.

On the other hand, while costly supplements, pricey prepackaged meals, shots, pills, or other diet aids may be an impediment to selecting a weight loss regime, the task for the weight conscious individual to plan delicious, reduced calorie meals that provide a variety of tasty food that one will look forward to eating is certainly not impossible.   After all, eating the same foods over and over that simply do not tantalize the taste buds is boring and will fall by the way side pretty quickly.

Diets and nutrition are so predominant in our culture today that few people are untouched by the concerns. Weight control for persons who perhaps previously gave little thought to their diet, now find themselves looking at ways to maintain a healthy weight or ways to reach one deemed healthy by an insurance provider. We are now faced with insurance plans offering wellness options that have lower premiums and out of pocket costs to prospective enrollees whose BMI (body mass index) is right for them. Having some great tasting and healthy diet meal plans can make the road to reaching or maintaining a healthy BMI easier to navigate.

For the person who decides to really make a change in eating habits and to begin the journey of weight loss, a life style change is really important. Quick weight loss or fad diets that result in dropping pounds quickly often lead the individual to regaining those lost pounds and a few more.  Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight really is a journey and does require a real change in ones habits to avoid putting the pounds back on.  Diet food commercials often tantalize us with results that aren’t really typical for the average dieter, but because we want to look and feel our best we are often tempted to try what appears to be the perfect diet.

I know which foods I like, don’t you? I know which ones I crave and would cheat on a diet to have.  Staying on a healthy track can be difficult if big changes come quickly.  We often feel deprived and get depressed.  With this in mind, perhaps small changes at first can help get us on the road to better health more successfully.   Maybe something as simple as a little imagination in the preparation of those favorite foods will begin to help you modify your diet but still allow you to have similar dishes you enjoy eating.   For example, perhaps you love scrambled eggs for breakfast and you prepare them in butter or vegetable oil. A quick and easy modification is to use a buttery cooking spray in a non stick pan.   Voila..an easy calorie cutting option.

Substituting baked or grilled vegetables and meat using marinades or seasonings for fried ones can also be a tasty alternative.  Numerous resources are available for you to use to find new, yummy ways to prepare your favorite foods if your imagination isn’t as creative as you would like it be.  Small changes over time with consistency and perseverance can bring success.   So, go ahead; don’t be afraid to step out on your own and make your own delicious diet meal plans.

Weight Loss Foods

Are you aware some foods are considered weight loss foods because they promote fat burning and increase metabolism?  If you are in a weight loss slump, burn more calories with foods that can help get you over the hump and on the road to your target weight.  Many of these foods do double duty since they not only help suppress hunger and boost metabolism but also provide health benefits. These super foods will add variety and delicious taste to your meals.

1.  Proteins – Weight conscious individuals need proteins to help maintain muscle mass since muscle burns more calories than fat. Additionally, if you are exercising or weight training along with your diet, the more muscle you develop, the more calories you will burn. Adding a new pound of muscle actually burns an extra 35 to 50 calories per day.  Of course, you must be smart when selecting protein; watch portion size and preparation method.  Beef, lean and grass-fed, salmon and tuna, both rich in Omega -3 fatty acids for heart health, and turkey are great choices.

Additionally, proteins can actually make you feel full longer.  Beans, for example, contain a hormone that actually helps keep food in the stomach longer.  They are a terrific source of fiber and help to lower cholesterol.  Some slimming bean varieties include chickpeas, black beans, and kidney beans.  In addition to health benefits, beans contain a healthy carb that revs up the metabolism.

2.  Vegetables -Another of the double duty weight loss foods for dieters, vegetables supply vitamins, minerals, and fiber for good health and add low-calorie, low-fat, filling foods to the diet.  When you consume vegetables you burn more calories and enjoy post-meal satiety for longer periods of time.   Vegetables are considered by some diet plans to be free foods since they are so filling and so low calorie.  Radishes, cabbage, celery, cauliflower, mushrooms, cucumbers, lettuce, watercress, kale, fresh sprouts, and cherry tomatoes are tasty choices to make.  

So go ahead have that delicious, fun to eat salad filled with colorful, crispy vegetables and get filled up on some healthy and low calorie foods.  Just watch out for that fat filled dressing

3.   Fruits – Offering plenty of variety to a diet, luscious fruits are great weight loss foods for flavor,  satisfying a sugar craving,  and filling you up without loading you up with calories.  Fruits contain compounds that help dieters avoid between meal high calorie snacks. Phytochemicals reduce insulin levels and may stimulate energy production rather than fat storage from calorie intake.

Study results show that grapefruits and grapefruit juice helped people lose more than three pounds over a period of twelve weeks (be careful of grapefruits if you are on antibiotics).  Other study results reveal new evidence that fruits eaten in greater amounts than the recommended number of servings per day can actually take the punch out of our cravings for processed foods.

Even juices can help.  Juicing a lime or lemon onto a salad or drinking a warm cup of lemon or lime juice in water before a meal will help lower blood sugar levels.

Pears, apples, watermelon, raspberries, strawberries, and the versatile avocado (which can be prepared as a substitute for fatty mayonnaise) are great fruits to add to your diet menus.  Polyphenols found in blueberries help shed belly fat and help prevent in the formation of new fat cells.

So, grab a piece of good fruit for a healthy snack or make them a part of a delicious fruit and vegetable salad.

4. Nuts and Seeds – Nuts and seeds contain fats!  How can that be good for weight loss? Data indicates that these non -traditional sources of protein can shrink the amount of saturated fats in the diet and provide some valuable heart healthy fat that curbs food cravings and contributes to weight loss in individuals without really cutting calories or even exercising more.   Almonds, pine nuts (shown in studies to help burn belly fat), peanuts, pecans, and walnuts with heart-healthy Omega 3 fats are among great nut choices for weight loss.  Just remember to control the amount of nuts you consume and enjoy the healthy benefits they provide, feel fuller for longer, and even burn more calories while you are at rest!

5.  Dairy – Studies tell us that those who include three to four low fat dairy products in their daily diet shed up to 70% more than others on a low dairy plan.  These weight loss foods contain a hormone, calcitriol, that suppresses the size of the fat cell.  Proteins provided by the dairy group foods contribute to the feeling of satiety and the development of muscle.  Low fat cottage cheese, string cheese and hard cheese varieties are actually called fat-burning foods and the linoleic acid in them makes weight loss a bit easier.

6. Other foods / condiments – Edible substances that add flavor to food can benefit persons with weight loss goals. Vinegar’s acetic acid promotes a full feeling by keeping the food in the stomach longer and stymies blood sugar levels after eating processed carbs.  Olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, lessens cravings and aids in breaking down stored fat. Dieters can use these two condiments in very simple ways…dipping whole grain breads in olive oil or combining the two for a tasty salad dressing.

Ginger, fennel, cinnamon, cayenne or chili peppers added to food can also rev up metabolic processes and provide other health benefits as well.  The flavor they add to meals will tantalize your taste buds, too.

One of the impediments to maintaining a weight loss plan is that dieters often feel deprived.   Foods with great taste that we look forward to eating do not have to be calorie laden.  By selecting foods from the weight loss foods category that have great flavor and texture, our need to enjoy a meal can be realized and our feeling of deprivation will be neutralized.

Food Lovers Diet

Hmmm, a food lover’s diet.  Does that mean you can eat anything you like and blame that growing waistline on it?  Do you find yourself daydreaming about a delicious meal?  Do you eat to love and love to eat?  I mean, who doesn’t love to eat?  You just might be a food lover!

Let’s face it.  Eating is an emotional experience.  Food is comfort, and good food is a pleasure.  We want to enjoy it as much as we can. We celebrate with lip smacking servings and medicate our disappointments with some sweet delicacy.  That  second helping is on our plates and gone before we think about it; we eat more luscious desserts than we should and  push away from a meal feeling like we are going to need a wheel barrow to roll us away from the table—all because we love food.   It can be a real problem, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be.

While loving food and watching ones weight may appear incompatible, the two sentiments do not have to be mutually exclusive. How can that be?

If the premise is true —that cutting calorie intake results in weight loss— then we can begin to see the possibilities.  And, yes, some commercial diet plans that optimize glycemic levels and permit you to prepare foods you love or  to use prepackaged foods making the body burn fat as opposed to storing it may work, but listening to the cds and reading all the content to follow all the directions provided can be onerous.  Too, eating the same food over and over (even if it tastes good to you) can become wearisome.

So, let’s go back to the premise, cutting caloric intake results in weight loss.  Can you eat some of your favorite foods but learn to manage the portion size and reduce the amount of calories you consume.  Of course, you can.

A terrific way to  control calorie intake is to learn portion control.  A skill to learn is the ability to  visualize a portion size.  It will take some time and some practice, but it is a skill you can master.  The Mayo Clinic uses tennis balls, baseballs, dice, and hockey pucks as sizes to help you see the portion size of vegetables, meats, and fruits. Once  you learn to see what a portion size should be, you will be on your way.  Controlling portion size is the first step in controlling caloric intake and that is the key to achieving your weight loss goals while eating foods you love.

Another way to enjoy the foods you love and to enjoy them is by using tasty cooking methods to prepare your meals.  Grilling, as opposed to frying, and using marinades and herbs or other seasonings can make your favorite foods tasty and healthier.

You can even enjoy sweets and satisfy your sweet tooth if you keep the total calorie count to abput 500 per week.  The secret is to make yummy meals so they meet the scrumptious standard and make us feel less deprived.  That is the secret a food lover’s diet!

“Protein” Bars

These are so easy to make… and what a fabulous replacement for their high sugar boxed enemies!

Thank you to Diane, who was a client of mine last January, for sending along this recipe!

1.5 c uncooked oats
1/2 c dried fruit (I used cranberries)
1/2 c chocolate chips or carob chips
1/2 c liquid sweetener (I mix 1/4 c apple sauce and 1/4 c maple syrup or agave.  You can use all syrup or all agave too and they are extra yummy)
1/2 c peanut butter or any nut butter
1/4 c coconut oil (optional, but it helps them freeze and hold together well)
optional ingredients:  it’s really whatever you have in the cupboard and want to add in- you can’t really mess it up
1 ripe mashed banana
1/2 c shredded coconut
flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds (2 Tbsp)
1/4 c sunflower seeds
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
Stir it all up and press it into a pan. You can line it with wax paper to for easy clean up.  Freeze, only takes an hour or so and then cut to desired size (pizza cutter works well).
Enjoy!