Asparagus & Eggplant Salad with Poached Egg

Time to use up some asparagus! Since it pairs well – and often – with poached egg, I was up for totally up for that today, but I wanted more variety. More veg. With one mini eggplant left in the fridge, I searched for “asparagus eggplant recipes” and found this one pretty quickly… it was quick and easy to boot.

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Here’s what I used:

1 small eggplant, 8 asparagus spears, 3 cherry tomatoes, 1 egg, apple cider vinegar, a handful of rocket, finely grated parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

And here’s what you do:

Quarter the eggplant then slice approximately 5mm thick pieces. Rub the pieces with salt and let rest. Meanwhile chop and discard the bottom 3cm of the asparagus spears then slice into pieces approx 3cm long. Turn the oven grill on to high.

Set a small saucepan on the stove and fill with about 5-6cm water on high heat. Cover and while it comes to the boil, rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat dry with paper towel. Then coat it generously in oil (EVOO) and spread the pieces out under the grill.

Throw the asparagus in the boiling water (to blanch), removing with a slotted spoon after a couple of minutes. Don’t tip out the water, we’re going to recycle it! Set the asparagus aside and check the eggplant; it should be ready to turn over.

Return the saucepan with the water to the stove, adding a dash of apple cider vinegar. Break the egg into a small cup or bowl then, as the vinegar water returns to the boil, grab a spoon and begin stirring the water in one direction quickly to create a ‘whirlpool’. Tip the egg right into the eye of the whirlpool then remove the saucepan from the heat source immediately and cover with the lid. The egg will keep on cookin’ in this hot environment (about 3 minutes for the perfect soft centre) as you continue your prep…

Lay a bed of rocket on your plate, placing the asparagus over the top. Remove the eggplant from the grill and scatter on the plate, then add the quartered cherry tomatoes.

Using the slotted spoon again, gently remove the egg from the saucepan, resting briefly on some paper towel to drain excess fluid, then place on top of the salad. Shower the lot with the grated parmesan, drizzling some EVOO and seasoning with salt and pepper before chowing down. You could add a little vinegar or lemon juice as well if you prefer.

Food FervourIt’s a perfect ‘light meal’ ….but I was a little hungrier than I thought so I ended up cutting a few extra pieces of parmesan to nibble on while I cleaned up. ūüėõ

 

An Eclectic Rainbow Salad

Variety is the spice of Life. It also happens to be really good for your body.

That’s why it’s one of the drivers behind the meals I make: the greater the variety of food in a meal, the higher its nutritional content (generally speaking). That’s why ‘they’ say “Eat a Rainbow”.

Well, today’s lunch certainly nailed the colour bit. Which is interesting, considering it all began with a thought about boiled eggs as I drove home from yoga. You see, I often boil a few up and keep them in the fridge (…for moments just like these – instant gratification meals). Mum used to make an avocado, tomato & cottage cheese salad that I loved and even though it didn’t relate directly to my egg craving, I began to envisage a meal based on this combination.Food Fervour

This is how it came together:

Scattering a large handful of roughly chopped baby spinach on my plate, I then topped it with 3 quartered cherry tomatoes, 2 quartered hard boiled eggs, about 5cm of chopped lebanese cucumber and¬†chunks of flesh from ¬Ĺ large avocado.

Next I piled on about 3 heaped tablespoons of (my homemade) sauerkraut to please my gut bacteria, then a mound (approximately 2 tablespoons) of grated vintage cheddar …simply because it goes so well with avo and sauerkraut (have you ever tried a Reuben’s Sandwich? Here’s a link to my recipe for one of them: https://foodfervour.com/2014/11/25/a-probiotic-toastie/)

That’s kind of edgy enough for a salad but I felt like pushing the boundaries a bit further so, instead of my standard vinegar & oil dressing, I drizzled the plain EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) over everything but followed it with a dollop of homemade sweet chilli sauce on the top. And if that wasn’t daring enough, I sprinkled approximately a dessertspoon of nutritional yeast flakes over the whole lot. BOOM. Gut-lovin’!

Now admittedly, even before I tucked in, it crossed my mind that I might’ve gone too far: gone overboard with elements & confused the flavours …but I wasn’t disappointed. I ate the lot. Maybe I was too hungry to notice whether the flavours really worked together or not? So please, by all means, if you decide to try this meal for yourself, and you come to a different conclusion, feel free to remind me that sometimes nutrient density should take a backseat to simplicity…

The Quickest, Easiest Nutrient-Dense Meal

Don’t you just love those ads that appear on almost every website, enticing you click, to find out what “5 foods you should never eat”? It’s laughable. Oh I have gone there, never you mind. Pretty much every time you are subjected to¬†some long-winded video that culminates in no answer but a sales pitch.

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A simple salad with avocado & seeds

I’m going to give you an answer for free.

The quickest, easiest, healthiest meal you can make is:

Salad.
Just salad.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I’m lazy. On the whole, I hate complex recipes and heaps of washing up ‚Ķand I’m also impulsive: if I’m hungry, I want it NOW.
But I’m passionate about eating well, as ‘cleanly’ (where ‘clean’ means as unprocessed and free of toxins, read: organic) as possible. And since veggies are the most nutrient -dense and -varied, my aim is to get as many in each day as possible …many more than the government’s “5 per day” guideline.

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Rushing to work? This healthy lunchbox takes no time at all

Salads make this possible when you are limited for time.  The only equipment you need to start with is:

One chopping board, a knife & your choice of serving vessel.

(I prefer bowls, so I can toss my salad more easily without scattering bits everywhere. Oh and they hold ‘fluid’ better, should I go overboard on the dressing) That’s it. Makes for a very quick and easy clean up.

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My favourite salad dish is a big square bowl

Then it’s just a matter of pulling all your foodstuffs out of the fridge. A little bit of organisation will take you a long way here: to put it simply, I try to keep everything together so I don’t have to make multiple trips. (Again, time-saving. Yes okay, as well as lazy…) The veggie crisper/drawer/bin (whatever you like to call it) is good for that. Who knows… maybe it was even designed with this in mind? ūüėČ
Since I buy a lot of produce, it usually won’t all fit in my crisper, so I use another large plastic container in which I store the overflow (I bought it YEARS ago and it still works a treat)…

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Next it’s chopping time. Literally, chop: roughly or finely, however you prefer. (just no fingers, please!) I’ll usually cut finely because I like more variety in one mouthful!

I tend to put green leafy stuff underneath (spinach/lettuce/rocket) unless it’s more of a garnish (basil/watercress/mint) then load in the rest and toss it all together. Seriously, MOST foods/flavours combine well. All you have to do if you’re the slightest bit uncertain, is envisage salads you may have eaten in the past, or standard salads everybody knows. For example, I’ve turned Waldorf salad – basically celery, apply & walnuts – into a nutritional giant by throwing in green leafy stuff, cucumber, mint, eshallots, snowpeas. If you are really stuck, just Google. (Or follow me on Instagram for inspiration!) Pick an ingredient you want to use, type it in with “salad recipes” behind it and Bob’s your uncle. You will find literally tonnes of recipes on the net, and you’ll also discover that many of them are quite similar. (This is one way to become familiar with food pairings: you’ll surprised how easily you’ll absorb the info you glean…)

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Here’s my ‘pimped up’ version of a basic Beetroot & Feta salad recipe I found on the ‘net…

 

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I’m so lazy that most of the time I don’t even blend the oil & vinegar, I just pour them directly onto the dish from the bottles.

‘Rabbit Food’ can be tedious, I’ll grant you, but it’s only due to a lack of imagination and experimentation. The dressing is often the key to salads’ flavour, and will definitely help those who (think they) detest veggies to consume them with more ease. The problem is, shop-bought (ready-made/processed) dressings house a lot of the nasties (including excessive amounts of sugar) we need to avoid. If you haven’t the time or inclination to Google dressing recipes (by the way,¬†here’s 50 of them, I found just now on the ‘Food Network’ site…) the easiest thing to do is throw either fresh citrus juice or your choice of vinegar with some extra virgin olive oil into a small jar, screw on the cap, then shake vigorously. Instant ‘clean’ dressing. Voila!

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‘Leftover’ Lamb Salad

Another consideration for the ‘veggie-haters’ is protein. Since our meals should include some of this macronutrient anyway (lazy me prefers nuts, seeds, boiled eggs & cheeses) the addition of your favourite meat will make salads even more palatable. Obviously for time-saving purposes, you’d look at using leftovers from a previous meal… unless you also had time to cook something. In which case, you wouldn’t be needing to read this post in the first place…?

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‘Sweetlip’ fish on a bed of salad

So, there’s really no excuse, as far as I can see. Eating healthily really doesn’t take much more time than it would to hop in your car and head to McDonald’s. But it’s a whole world more beneficial to your Insides. Which – quite bluntly – is the only thing that matters, because it’s where pretty much all Disease originates.

So, grab a knife and get healthy… Chop-chop!

 

Liquid Health: Pros & Cons of Smoothies

I just gorged on cheese. I felt like some cheese on toast for lunch but thanks to my relationship with ‘instant gratification’ I started hoeing into the Nimbin Natural before my GF bread was toasted. Then I had a couple more pieces while the griller took its turn. So by the time I’d eaten, I was full as a goog (Aussie slang for “I’ve had sufficient”).

Now, with the stomach juices working hard (& loud!) I’m feeling a tad guilty about the lack of fibre & nutritional variety in that ‘meal’. Since there’s no way I could fit a whole salad in after all that (a sign in itself…) I’m going to ‘supplement’ with a smoothie.
Good old smoothies!
How did we ever live without them before? Nutrient-dense meals-on-the-run.
They are SO easy. So ridiculously easy. And they’re a blank canvas for the Creative. The one basic ‘rule’ I can ever recall hearing somewhere is:
60% FRUITS + 40% VEGGIES/GREENS

food fervourOf course, when you get used to them (that is, when you “harden up”!) you may find you can¬†reduce the fruit component, which is a good thing for those who want to ‘control’ their fructose intake. Intensely flavoured components of a smoothie¬†can disguise less palatable ingredients. If you¬†have some idea of what fruits & vegetables go well together, you’re unlikely to go too far wrong.¬†If all else fails… Google. There are literally thousands of recipes out there in the ether.

For this one I grabbed an orange, lots of strawberries & blueberries, a banana and a couple of dates and blended them with a chunk of cucumber, a stick of celery (leaves’n’all) a handful of baby spinach and some cabbage.
I blended the solids first to break them up as much as possible, then added my liquid (coconut water in this instance) for a smoother drink.

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So full… More for later!

The thing to remember with smoothies (and here I hark back to the ‘sign’ I mentioned during my cheese story) is that by liquefying your food, it’s easier to consume more than you need, plus there’s less work for your digestive system to undertake. While that can seem like a good thing ¬†– and it can be when you are unwell and need all the energy (& nutrients) you can get for minimal effort, while your immune system is hard at work – healthy peops are likely to become hungrier sooner (despite ingesting a salad bowl’s worth of calories). Because your digestive organs aren’t really getting the ‘workout’ for which they were designed. They need the challenge of some tough fibre or dense proteins to breakdown in the same way your body responds to the fitness challenges you (should) apply to it in training!

To this end, I don’t believe¬†smoothies should be consumed on a regular (daily) basis. After all, human evolution didn’t involve electric blenders!

For a meal on a run, yes – if you really CAN’T make the time. For instant gratification, yes, if you really CAN’T exercise self control. And heck, even for the occasional ‘nutrient supplementation’ after a very average meal (to wit: me, today) and at the expense of excessive energy intake!