Posts Tagged ‘Eat Your Greens’

The Eggplant Chronicles II: cooking eggplant

Like most Louisiana natives I love eggplant, and I have fervent opinions about how it should be prepared for cooking. For any application in which it is to be sautéed, I believe that it must be salted and drained first. This is not to get out bitterness, as some cookbooks say; a well-grown eggplant of a good variety doesn’t have bitterness. The disgorging process gives the eggplant a better texture, almost silky, and in my view is not optional.
For this dish, I cut an enormous yet still young Black King eggplant into thick meaty slices about half an inch thick. I salted them liberally on both sides in the morning, stuck them in a bag in the refrigerator, and in the evening laid them out in a single layer on half of a clean towel and pushed down hard on the slices with the other half of the towel, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Now sauté them in olive oil over medium-high heat, laying them out on a baking sheet as they finish cooking, and making sure to cook them until they can easily be penetrated with a fork. Meanwhile, decide what you want to put on them. I had some horta (cooked greens mixture) made according to the description in my amaranth post, liberally flavored with garlic, fennel fronds, and salt-cured olives, and decided to use that. Other possibilities include leftover cut-up meat or chicken with herbs, scrambled eggs highly seasoned with herbs, tomato sauce, or whatever. I mixed the horta with crumbled feta for a little pizazz. Top with cheese ( I used an artisanal cheese similar to Parmesan) and pop in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes or so. Pull them out, top with pine nuts or your own favorite nuts and a lavish sprinkle of Maras pepper flakes or other good red pepper flakes, and put back in the oven for a minute or two. I added some roasted onion halves on the side. Serve. Eat.
This sort of dish screams for a good smooth red wine and has to be eaten with a carefree attitude. Laissez les bon temps roulez, after all.


Notes on the Ketogenic Diet


I have alluded several times to ketogenic dieting, and decided to say a little more before I go back to garden talk. I started eating ketogenically a little over three years ago, in response to increasing weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar. I don’t expect to eat any other way for the forseeable future, because I like being thinner, feeling better, and having no medications to keep track of. I am not making recommendations for anybody but myself. If you are interested, read the most recent Atkins book you can find, one that lists Volek and Phinney as authors since they are two of the foremost researchers in this field. For myself, I can only say that it has been exhilarating to find that the slow progression to type 2 diabetes is totally within my own control and doesn’t have to happen. I “cheat” on fruit when it’s fresh from my own yard but otherwise stay very low-carb. Deprived? Not hardly. The lovely plate above, “borrowed” from The Nourished Caveman, is just one example of what’s possible.

The bulk of my diet these days is leafy vegetables, both raw and cooked, and this is where being a gardener and forager comes in really handy. To get this quantity of greens in organic form from the store would be quite possible, but expensive. I cook them with healthy fats and any seasonings that take my fancy. I eat moderate amounts of meat, poultry, fish, and seafood. This is not an especially high-protein diet, although protein content is certainly high relative to the standard junk-food diet. I do use a few artificial sweeteners, mostly oligofructose (a natural derivative of chicory root) and liquid stevia, but I try to minimize them and I don’t obsess about making sugar-free desserts. Dessert should be an occasional treat, not a nightly right.

All of this said, I don’t intend to write much more specifically about this way of eating. It’s my lifestyle choice and not binding upon anyone else. If you’re interested, just be aware that my posts and recipes since I resumed blogging early in 2015 are compatible with a low-carb lifestyle, but older posts are not, and that green vegetables are your friends!
For those who have tried low-carb and not gotten good results, the link below is a nice concise and useful summary of the most common mistakes.
Low Carb Mistakes
Here’s another helpful input from the Atkins forums:
Doing Atkins Right

Books Worth Reading: Eat Your Greens!

I am a gardener and also a doctor, so I spend a lot of time thinking about what could improve health for individuals and communities. When it comes to simple and practical innovations, I’m firmly convinced of this: there is no better thing that we can do for our own health and our families’ health than cook, serve, and eat more leafy greens. You can take me at my word,or you can read Eat Your Greens, by David Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy has collected a lot of information about why growing and eating more leafy greens is important, and gives information about some obscure greens. He is the founder/director of Leaf for Life and he wants everyone to be healthier.

Whenever I review a book, I want to talk about what it is and what isn’t. This is not a gardening book, and it isn’t a cookbook. It is a book about the importance of leafy greens to improving health worldwide. Lots of plants are given equal importance, no matter how relatively unsuited they are to cultivation in temperate America; this author thinks globally. Read it anyway, if you need to be convinced that the best thing you can do with your home garden plot is to grow a good supply of greens. A plentiful supply of fresh imageunsprayed greens is just about guaranteed to improve your health and your family’s health. There are some really good books about how to cook your crop. This one is to stretch your thinking in other directions.

Be sure to review the chapter on edible cover crops. If you want to improve your soil and eat some greens at the same time, try the cover crops that Kennedy recommends.

So, my personal opinion, after years of home gardening and given that I have trialed moringa and Chaya and many other chic greens discussed in this book, goes something like this: forget the obscure stuff unless you love to fool with that sort of thing (I do, but that’s not where the bulk of our green veggies come from.) Grow what grows well in your area. Grow kale, lots of kale, and chard and spinach and leaf lettuce, and harvest amaranth and lambs-quarters and purslane from your weedy patch. Grow any green leaves that you like to eat, and then eat them. Lots of them. Use cover crops in your little yard-farm, and feed leafy greens to your chickens and other livestock so that they will enrich you indirectly. Recognize green leaves as the most extraordinary solar collectors in the world, and let them feed you the energy of sun, earth, and water. Think about how to preserve them for winter. Keep them on your table. I will be trialing some of Kennedy’s ideas like Green Tofu, or leaf-juice curd, and I’ll let you know how it comes out for me. But please, eat your greens!

Oh, and please consider buying this book and other great books at your local independent bookstore. This is a genuine case of use it or lose it.