Sep 232014

Much to my dismay, football season has, in fact, returned. Although I’m not the biggest fan of these 3 hour games inhibiting my ability to do more important work (like catch up on Scandal and other Shonda Rhimes dramas), football does have one redeeming quality–the snacks. While delicious, football snacks are not traditionally the healthiest. I’ve made a few healthier but still worthy options in the past like these buffalo quiona bites or these baked sweet potato skins. Here’s one more to add to the list…ladies and gentlemen, meet the Greek Nacho.
Unlike the game of football, there aren’t a whole lot of rules to greek nachos. Basically start with a base of whole wheat pita chips (or better yet, bake them yourself), and top with any ingredient that you would consider putting in a greek salad. Drizzle with tzaziki and enjoy!
Nutritional Highlights: These beat your everyday nachos in many ways. First, instead of a fried corn chip as the base, this recipe uses whole wheat, baked pita chips. Fiber from the whole wheat part, and less fat from the baked part. While in your traditional nachos, the majority of the toppings are high fat, high sodium, processed ingredients like ground meat, salsa, various cheese products, and sour cream, this recipe uses mostly veggies as toppings (tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion) and just a bit of cheese. You get the creaminess you are looking for from the tzaziki, but the base is non-fat yogurt, adding protein and calcium to the dish. So give your pizza delivery man a break this Sunday and whip these up!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Greek Nachos
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What’s in it:
4 whole wheat pitas, cut into 8 triangles each (alternately you can use pre-made pita chips)
Salt and chili powder to taste
1/4 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper (I like using yellow or orange to add another color!)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup tzaziki sauce (store bought or follow this recipe)
Optional additional toppings: chickpeas, chopped black kalamata olives

How to make it:
1. If making your own, first bake your pita chips. Preheat oven to 400. Spread pita triangles on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and chili powder. Flip triangles and repeat. Bake until the chips are golden brown and crispy, about 12-14 minutes.
2. While pita chips are baking, prepare your toppings. If making your own tzaziki, prepare that as well.
3. Once pita chips have had a chance to cool, assemble your nachos. Layer the pita chips on a platter. Sprinkle with your vegetables, olives and/or chickpeas, and crumbled feta. Drizzle the tzaziki sauce over the top. Enjoy!
What I’m really trying to say is that this dish is a home run, or a touch down, or something like that.

Sep 112014

Nasu Dengaku. No, I didn’t just sneeze. It’s just the japanese name of the amazing eggplant dish I made last week. I’m saying goodbye to summer (it pains me to say those words) by having as much eggplant, tomatoes, corn and other summer delicacies as humanly possible. I never thought an eggplant dish could beat the eggplant fries I made last year, but I have to say this might have done it. It’s the perfect mix of sweet and savory, tender with just enough texture, and most importantly, easy.
The one disclaimer I have to give about this recipe, is that it does require a few ingredients that you probably don’t have just lying around (unless you are a master japanese chef). I personally had never even seen miso before, and wandered aimlessly in the asian market before finally sucking up my pride and asking for guidance. Turns out it sort of looks like a paste and is often in the refrigerated section, who would have guessed? Other than a few odd ingredients, this recipe is super quick, healthy, and delicious.
Nutritional Highlights: This dish is vegan and gluten free, and is the perfect meal for your next meatless monday (or tuesday, or wednesday, etc!). Eggplant is high in fiber, packed with several vitamins and minerals, and you can have a whole cup for only 35 calories. Eggplant also boasts high levels of phytochemicals which have antioxidant activity (aka, lower inflammation in the body and help fight off free radicals trying to wreak havock on your cells. Take that, sneaky radicals). Now what about that miso stuff? It’s actually made from fermented beans and has fiber and protein because of the legumes it is made from. Be cautious about sodium though, and buy the low sodium version if you can!
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Miso-Glazed Eggplant (Nasu Dengaku)
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

What’s in it:

2 Japanese eggplants (or any type you can get your hands on!)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
sliced scallions/green onions
sesame seeds (black or white)

for the glaze:
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons miso
1 teaspoon agave or sugar (you can omit this for a slightly less sweet glaze)
1 teaspoon sesame oil

How to make it:

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

2. Slice your eggplant in half lengthwise. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal lines about 1 inch apart through the flesh of the eggplant but not the skin. Do the same thing on the other angle to create a little checker board–this will allow the glaze to really get into the eggplant.

3. Lightly salt the eggplant and let it sit for a few minutes if you can (the salt helps make it tender and keeps it from getting soggy and bitter). Rub with the sesame oil and cook, cut side down on an oiled baking sheet or heavy oven safe skillet for about 15 minutes until soft and skin begins to shrivel (may less for small eggplants, more for huge ones).

4. Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a microwave save dish, mix the mirin and agave and microwave for 1-2 minutes to reduce it slightly (you can also do this in a saucepan). Mix in the miso and sesame oil.

5. Remove the eggplants from the oven and turn your oven to broil. Flip the eggplants and spread each with a hefty spoonful of the glaze. Broil for about 2-3 minutes or until glaze is browned and bubbly.

6. Top with scallions, sesame seeds, and enjoy!