Are You Picking Up Males In The Produce Section?

Good Morning!

We hope you are enjoying some great fall weather and maybe getting some golf in.  It’s Ryder Cup weekend up here in Chicago and the buzz is palpable!   Switching gears from the great outdoors to the great indoors let’s talk about what’s happening in the kitchen.

We have gotten a lot of praise for our No-Pasta Vegetable Lasagna post from last week.  A couple of the emails that we got asked about a “missing step” that many recipes call for which is the “salting of the eggplant to draw out bitterness”.  What we have found is that particular step isn’t necessary if you buy “male” eggplants.

To be clear, we completely understand that  eggplants as fruit are “the products of reproduction and do not have a gender.

Plants that produce fruit require the pollination of their flowers. This occurs when pollen from the flower’s male organs (stamen and anthers) comes in contact with the female organ (stigma) either by insect activity or wind. The pollen then travels down a tube below the stigma (style) and into the ovary, which eventually becomes the fruit.

Eggplants are self-pollinators, meaning that they have both the male and female organs within the same flower.

However, incomplete pollination may cause a fruit to develop fewer seeds, which kitchen lore might call “male.”  (note the comment from one of our readers “Richard” who reminds us that there isn’t a gender for our lovely eggplant) Over-mature eggplant fruits that have lost their glossy purple color would have bigger, more noticeable, mature seeds which cause bitterness.

However, many cooks believe that there is a connection between the “gender” of an eggplant and the number of seeds (and therefore bitterness) should choose their fruit based not only on its glossy purple skin and smaller size, but also on its purported gender.

So how do we find these “male” eggplants?

The alleged male eggplant is on the left and the female is on the right

When looking at the bottom (blossom) of the eggplant, you will notice a difference in the shape of the indentation. The round indentation would represent the “male” (left) while the more linear indentation would signify the female (right).

So the next time you go to your farmer’s market or produce section how do you find the perfect “male”? (which ideally means less seeds)

  • Try to find eggplants that have a smaller round indentation at the bottom
  • You want eggplants that are smaller, bigger is not better in this case!
  • They should have a deep purple and glossy skin to them.  (Unless you are purchasing a white eggplant or some varieties of Japanese eggplant)
  • Avoid those that are extremely large, dried out (dimpled) and have a matte finish to them.

Enjoy the day and keep smiling!

Love and hugs,

Donna and Daniela

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No-Pasta Vegetable Lasagna

Hello Friends!

Hopefully the wind and rain is behind us for a while and we can enjoy some beautiful fall weather.  Some of the trees here outside of Chicago are already starting to change color.  Walking outside we can start to see hints of yellow and orange starting to peek through the tree canopy’s.  It’s hard to believe that summer is over and that fall is finally here.

Layers of vegetables will make for a delicious lasagna!

This also means the end of our local farmer’s markets.:(  I went a little crazy and bought a major amount of zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant to make a couple of pans of our No-Pasta Vegetable Lasagna.  It freezes well and it let’s us capture some of that fresh local produce while we still can!

No-Pasta Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

For the ricotta mixture:

  • 1 container (15 oz) ricotta (part-skim) or 3 cups of vegan ricotta to make vegan lasagna
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the lasagna

  • 2 small eggplants
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 3 medium yellow squash
  • 4-5 cups of organic homemade marinara sauce (approximately 1 1/2  jars if using store bought)

*Optional: ½ cup of mozzarella cheese or nutritional yeast.

Instructions

  1. For the ricotta mixture: Combine ricotta, spinach, minced garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

    Thinly sliced spinach

  2. For the lasagna: Preheat oven to 400 F. Wash veggies, then cut off the tops and bottoms. Cut all vegetables lengthwise into 1/4” thick slices and set aside.
  3. Spray two sheet pans with olive oil and lay veggies in a single layer.  Lightly spray veggies with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place in oven and roast veggies for 15 minutes turning once through cooking.  Another option is to grill the veggies on a medium-high grill for approximately the same amount of time.
  4. After roasting or grilling veggies. Remove them from the oven and lay veggies on a paper towel lined plate to soak up extra liquid (this step is important!).

    Be sure to lay roasted or grilled veggies on a paper towel to drain.

  5. In a large lasagna pan spread a thin layer of marinara sauce, then roasted eggplant, then ricotta mixture.  Keep repeating this until you have three layers of the veggies, sauce and ricotta.

    Lightly spread the ricotta mixture on top of the vegetable layer.

  6. Cover the final layer with the remaining marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese or nutritional yeast. 
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes remove foil and let bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly or nutritional yeast is browned.
  8. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes to set.  Cut into slices and serve.

The top three comments are:

  1. “This tastes great, you don’t even miss the pasta”
  2. “This is vegetarian?”
  3. “Tastes like pizza without the crust”

Let us know what you think!

Have a great weekend and enjoy the pleasures that life has to offer!

Love and hugs,

Donna and Daniela

What’s For Breakfast?

Hello Everyone!

Happy Saturday!  Well Fall is finally here up in Chicago.  The weather the past two mornings has been glorious and crisp.  It was definitely inspiration for a warm breakfast that fit all of the Organic Housewives criteria – tasty, easy to prepare and healthy.  We thought you would enjoy our Zucchini and Tomato Frittata!  If you have an oven-proof pan it’s super easy to prepare, if not there’s just one extra step involved.

The Uber-Healthy Frittata!

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata – Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil  – (Oil from a Misto or spray oil lowers your calorie count by 35 calories per serving.)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan OR substitute 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast to make dairy-free.
  • 1 garlic clove – minced, salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of Simply Organic Oregano
  • 1 large tomato or 5-6 Roma tomatoes – sliced thin (1/4″ thick)
  • 1 medium zucchini – sliced in coins 1/4″ thick

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and oil a large stainless skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk eggs together along with garlic, salt and pepper
  3. To the hot skillet lightly saute the zucchini then pour egg mixture into pan and cook until eggs are set on edges.  In a single layer place tomatoes on top of mixture.

    Unbaked Frittata. If you are using a dish versus a skillet, bake in oven for 10 minutes then remove from the oven to sprinkle cheese or nutritional yeast on top. Return to oven and finish baking.

  4. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast over the top of the tomatoes.  Place skillet in oven and bake until eggs are set in the middle (8-10) minutes
  5. Loosen frittata from pan and slide onto a serving plate.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.Note:  If you do not have an oven proof skillet, saute the zucchini first then add the garlic, salt and pepper.  Then add this mixture to a greased pie dish (the one shown in the picture is actually a tart dish) topping with the tomatoes and cheese. Bake for 18-20 minutes until eggs are set in the center.

Voila!

Other ideas:

  • Have it for an “on the run” breakfast.  Simply take a slice to go in the car.  It stays together and doesn’t have any drippy ingredients.

It holds up nicely to take in the car!

  • Have it after a workout.  It has 15 grams of protein,140 calories and only 4 carbs!. If you use spray oil for the skillet, you will save 35 calories per serving.
  • Serve a slice over salad greens for a quick lunch.
  • Have the “munchies” between picking the kid’s up and dinner?  Grab a quick slice it tastes good cold too!

Have a great day and enjoy the warm weather while it lasts!

Love and hugs,

Donna and Daniela

Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders

Hello Friends!

Hoping that your weekend is off to a great start and that we all enjoyed a “short week” this week!  Thank you again for all of the positive feedback on our “Kid’s Healthy Lunch” demo last week.  We know what a challenge it can be to pack lunch for our little one’s… they will always be our babies won’t they?  So we were excited to share some ideas that we have found success with in our own children’s lives.  One of the biggest hits were the gluten-free chicken tenders.  They are flavorful, easy to make and kid approved!

Since these are “breaded” with gluten-free ingredients and baked instead of fried it really does provide a healthier alternative to traditional chicken tenders.  We served these to the Mom’s the day after they were made so they would know how they would actually appear in their kid’s lunch boxes.  Again, still a hit even though they are best when coming straight from the oven.

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Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of chicken tenders
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups of organic gluten free cornflakes crushed
  • 1/2 cup of gluten free Boulder Granola  crushed
  • 2 tsp of Simply Organic Garlic Salt
  • 1 tsp of Simply Organic Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Simply Organic Black Pepper – optional

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet lined with foil.
  2. In a ziploc bag place corn flakes and granola and crush to a small flake.  This mixture can also be “pulsed” in a blender or Vitamixer. Blend in approximately half of the garlic salt, oregano and pepper.  Then place crushed mixture onto a plate.
  3. In a small bowl add the two eggs and whisk together.
  4. Place tenders on a plate and lightly season with the other half of the garlic salt, oregano and pepper.
  5. Dip the seasoned tenders into the egg mixture and then onto the plate of seasoned mixture.  Make sure to coat the tender completely.
  6. Place the “breaded” tender onto the baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining seasoned tenders.
  7. When finished coating all of the tenders, place the tenders into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (depends on thickness of your tenders) turning once halfway through until done.
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Steps 1, 2, 3

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Step 6, almost ready to place in the oven!

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Voila! There not just for lunch, serve with a salad or veggies for a healthy dinner!

Enjoy!

Yours in health,

 

Donna and Daniela