Tian – Vegetable Gratin

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Serves four people

Ingredients:
2-3 onions
4 tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 zucchini, thinly sliced
150 grams of goat cheese, crumbled
oregano
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

Sauté the onions in olive oil. When the onions are ready, lay them at the bottom of a baking dish. Cover with one layer of tomatoes and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the tomatoes with a layer of zucchini. Add half of the cheese. Do the same thing with another layer of tomatoes, followed by one of zucchini. Finish with the rest of the cheese and the oregano. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake for at least an hour at 320°F.

Japanese, Organic and Kosher

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Since I embarked on a new diet, I have naturally bought a number of Japanese products (ramen noodles, soy sauce, miso soup). This afternoon, I went to the local organic store, not necessarily to purchase Japanese foods, but to check what they had in store and find inspiration for upcoming meals.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover Clearspring, a British brand which specializes in quality Japanese , Oriental and European foods. Not only are the products I bought from Japan and organic, but they are also kosher certified.

Now I wish I had realized they also kosher certified European products, such as olive oil, as I would have bought some. The siver lining is that the next visit to the store will be more fun as I’ll try to uncover what kosher products they stock.

New Diet or New Habits?

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Because I wish to lose weight and because I try to take care of my health, I seriously plan to change a number of things in my diet and my routine.

After having considered several diets, I have come to believe that I need to settle on things that are feasible and can be easily integrated into my life. Thus a low-carbohydrate diet is fine in the summer but doesn’t work (for me anyway) in cold weather. On the contrary I know that cutting down on meat – especially red – is something I can do.

I also know that I need to adopt a healthier routine: more walking for instance. There are lots of places I can walk to rather than take the car. I ought to start a sport too but do not feel ready (yet).

I received this morning a book which deals with the Okinawa diet and am hopeful that it will inspire some change. I don’t anticipate to revolutionize the way I eat or live but hope that I will enjoy whatever I choose to adopt.

Hopefully I’ll get some insight about soy consumption, especially by women. Finally I am looking forward to read and try new recipes. I made a dessert with sweet potatoes tonight but will only eat it at breakfast tomorrow.

Meanwhile here are two links you might like to try:
Japanese Noodle Vegetable Salad with Peanut Sauce and To Tofu or Not to Tofu: Tasty Substitutes for Dairy or Meat

Healthy Diet

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I have just finished reading a book entitled Les meileurs régimes du monde (the best diets in the world). The idea behind the book was to try and understand why in some regions of the world (Crete, the island of Okinawa, Caucasus and the Hunza valley in Pakistan) people die old. The two authors of the book examined their daily diets and attempted to draw conclusions that are applicable to the average Westerner.

Here are what they have come up with:

– Lots of fruit and vegetables
– Pulses, such as lentils or beans, combined with rice or wheat in various forms.
– More Omega-3 fatty acids than in our traditional diets, provided by fish (mostly salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines) and nuts.
– Meat, especially poultry, two or three times a week.
– Tofu and yogurts.
– Herbs and spices to enhance the taste and for their nutritients.

Are these recommendations you are ready to follow? Why or why not?

Eggplant Dishes

images-1.jpegEggplant is one of my favourite vegetables. It is versatile, healthy and can be used in summer as well as winter dishes.

Eggplant Salad (serves 4 people)

2 eggplants

400 gr of peeled canned tomatoes

3 crushed cloves garlic

fresh coriander/cilantro

1 tsp ground cumin

olive oil

salt and pepper

Grill or microwave the eggplants. Wait until they have cooled. Cut in half and scoop out the pulp.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the garlic, make sure it does not burn. Add the tomatoes and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes.

Add the eggplant pulp, the coriander, salt and pepper. Cook uncovered for approximately 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.

When the dish is cooked, add the ground cumin. Chill at least 3 hours.

Eggplant Quiche (dairy)

Ready-made flaky pastry

1 packet of frozen grilled or fried slices of eggplant

150 gr of soft goat cheese

1 small jar of tapenade

olive oil

a few black pitted olives

Press the pastry into a pie plate. Smear it with the tapenade, not too heavily though. Arrange the slices of eggplants on top. Add the sliced cheese. Sprinkle with herbs and drizzle a little olive oil. Put a few olives in the middle to decorate.

Cook 25 minutes at 450°F.

Low-carb Shabbat

I have been on a low-carb and low-fat diet for four weeks – the joys of being over fourty! I am only allowed bread (preferably brown) and cheese in the morning, At lunch meat or fish is fine as long as it is grilled, steamed or cooked in a pouch. The hardest meal is dinner. No carb, no meat and I must confess I don’t usually feel like eating fish in the evening. So dinner usually means a soup and/or a salad. Whenever I feel hungry I can drink a tomato juice or eat a diet (no-frills) yoghurt.

Now the bright side of this is that it works. It is a rather pleasant feeling to witness your weight go down as the days go by. The effort and the change of habits seem worthwhile. The dark side is trying to plan a joyful Shabbat while sticking to the diet.

I have started baking a different sort of bread and I bake two loaves which replace the lovely challot I used to make before I started this new regimen. I do not eat much of it, enough for the motzi blessing and of course I allow myself a little wine for kiddush. I make more salads than for a weekly meal, I cook fish or meat for Saturday but still I am not quite happy with this.

Even if I had never cooked tons of food for Shabbat, I used to make a cake and enjoyed meat in a sauce (with carb) for lunch. All this has gone for the time-being and I am not sure what to do to find new habits I’ll be happy to stick to and will look forward to eating and sharing in the near future. Any ideas anybody?

Shabbat shalom!