Sunday, April 08, 2012

Melanzane alla Parmigiana, Hilary style

Meanwhile, back here on the ground, I invented my own melanzane parmigiano recipe tonight.

 I've also been very carefully tracking my intake of various nutrients, carbs and calories, to figure out how to bring my weight down a bit, while keeping up optimum levels of protein and whatnots and cutting out the really damaging stuff, grains and sugar that play havok with my blood sugar. So heavy on the green veg, meat, fish, chicken, cheese, plain yogurt, slightly less fruit... more or less the way I've been eating all my life, but without the sugar. At the moment, I'm not worried too much about fats.

Since the end of surgery, I'm hovering very close to what the websites all agree is the "optimum" weight for my age, height and build, which is fine, but I'm still feeling bulbous and slightly blobby. Flabby and out of shape mostly, from a year of lying around moaning and complaining.

Of course, all the numbers here are mostly approximate. I've learned that there really is no way to precisely calculate exactly how much of anything is in the food I'm eating. But at least this gives me an idea of what effects my favourite foods are having. It's helped to sort out what I can have lots of and what I could stand to be more circumspect about, where I was well balanced, and where I was going to heavy or light on various things.

Try this. No idea if this is the way the Italians make it, but I had it tonight for dinner. It was great.

350 g melanzane                               35g carb / 171.5 cal
1 tbs butter                                          0g / 100
1 cup whole milk                               13g / 146
1 tbs olive oil (optional)                     0g / 110
1 oz parmesan cheese                         1g / 121
1 tbsp rice flour                                22g / 102
125g. mozzarella                           1.25g / 292.5
400g tinned tomatoes                       12g / 68
1 oz tomato paste                               5g / 23
2 cloves garlic, minced  
1-2 pinches dried basil  
1 tbsp chicken powder 
shot of Worcestershire

One portion = divide by 4          22.31g carb / 283.5 cal

Preheat oven to 175.

Prepare the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a heavy bottom enamel pot, taking care not to let it burn. Dust with the rice flour, and stir until it's all damp and sizzling. Stir in the milk a bit at a time with a wire whisk over a low heat until all the milk is used. Keep stirring as the sauce thickens and stir in the parmesan until it's melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

To prepare the tomato sauce, pour the tin of peeled plum/roma tomatoes into a stainless steel bowl. Add the basil, minced garlic, chicken powder and tomato paste and Worcestershire. Crush the tomatoes with your hands, mixing the ingredients together until it's all an even paste.

Take a 9x9 square cake tin, spread the olive oil over the bottom then line with prepared eggplant slices. (If you want to drop 110 calories, skip the olive oil, it doesn't make too much difference except for taste.)

Spread a layer of tomato sauce with a spatula, covering the melanzane. Take a ball of (Italian style) mozzarella, slice into ten or more pieces and layer them over the melanzane. Add another layer. Spread the parmesan/cream sauce to entirely cover. Repeat with more melanzane, making sure you end up with tomato sauce on top. Grate a layer of cheese on top, pecorino is nice.

Bake for 30 minutes or so.

Using the amounts I gave above, and the 9x9 cake tin, allow to cool then cut into four even pieces. One portion should come out to about:

22.31g carb / 283.5 cal

Nice with a leg of chicken on the side.

Lately I've been saving myself a lot of trouble by buying the frozen melanzane already prepared and grilled. I don't know if you can easily get them outside Italy, but if you can, they're in the frozen veg section. Pretty cheap too.

Chicken powder comes here in tins, not so much pressed in cubes. I have been using it instead of salt. It's less salty and adds a lot of nice flavour.

I've entirely given up wheat products, along with barley and rye, but am allowing myself to use a bit of rice now and then when nothing else will do, so this uses a tablespoon of white rice flour to substitute for wheat flour in making a cream sauce. It tastes a bit different from making it with wheat flour, but not bad and you soon get used to it. The rice flour doesn't give you the insulin spike or have the nasty chemicals that are in wheat. Wheat wants to kill you.

Of course, it goes without saying, or should, that the mozzarella I'm talking about is the heavenly Italian kind that is an unripened soft cheese, a formaggio fresca. It isn't the horrid blocks of tasteless rubbery stuff you buy in North America. That stuff is good, perhaps, for caulking the bathtub, but I hesitate to call it food.


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