A Healthy Tour of the Garden
A trip to different parts of the world leads to different ingredients and flavors. Incorporating some of these ingredients into everyday healthy simple recipes leads to improved health and a colourful plate.
The recipes I have included today come from different corners of the United States. I have substituted some different ingredients to make them good enough to serve company.
Eggplant has been classified by some as the worlds healthiest vegetable. Eggplant is a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1 and copper.
It is also packed with manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K.
Along with the benefits of being loaded with phyonutrients such as nasunin which helps slow ageing and helps in the fight to protect against cancers and chlorogenic acid which has a mild blood pressure lowering effect.
4 healthy simple recipes…
I’ve put together 4 very healthy simple recipes, that are not only packed with flavour but also nutrients. I hope you enjoy!
1. Eggplant Lasagna
Eggplant is one of those vegetables that takes on the flavors of what you cook it in.
This is why this casserole (lasagna) makes such a tasty dish. Eggplant Lasagna is one of my favourites!
It is filling and a good healthy dish.
I added cream to this sauce, it can be made without but the flavor is enhanced with the cream.
I call this an Eggplant Rosa sauce. (Rosa is pink in Italian)…
- 1 large or 2 smaller eggplants cut in rounds.
- Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1 large onion, diced.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 medium green bell peppers, Julienne cut
- 1 15oz can San Marzano tomato’s
- 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 teaspoon red chili pepper
- ¾ cup whipping cream
- 1 package rice lasagna, Gluten free or regular lasagna noodles
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Slice your eggplant into round, immerse the slices in salted water for approximately 30 to 40 minutes.
- Soaking the eggplant in this manner will remove the bitterness and make it act more like a sponge to absorb flavors of what you cook it in.
- While you are soaking the eggplant, place olive oil in a saute pan and saute the onions till translucent.
- Remove your eggplant and dry it well.
- Dice the eggplant and toss into the sautéed onion.
- Stir in the basil and oregano and the Julienne peppers.
- Once everything begins to soften stir in the tomatoes.
- Cook the mixture for about 15 minutes add *whipping cream, salt and pepper to taste.
- In the meantime prepare the lasagna according to package directions. I like to use Tinkyada Lasagna Noodles but use your choice of pasta.
- Oil a shallow baking dish and layer a small amount of eggplant mixture, lasagna noodles**, grated cheese and a sprinkle of red chili peppers.
- Keep doing this until you run out of ingredients, or baking dish.
- Just make sure you end up with your last layer being cheese.
- And a sprinkle of red chili flakes.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.
Let cool, slice and enjoy.
This is a meal that goes great with a salad and bread.
In the gluten-free world the bread is of your choice. I like to make gluten-free rolls. I will give you the recipe in one of my upcoming articles.
*If you would like you can remove the cream, it tastes great but is not a necessity.
**Layer your lasagna noodles in opposing directions, first one way then the other.
2. Fresh grilled halibut with mango salsa and cilantro rice
Cilantro/ Coriander is a vitamin packed powerhouse. This herb adds a peppery punch to culinary endeavors — it is high in fiber and low in cholesterol and packs a whopping 270 IU of vitamin A and 17 % of your daily Vitamin K.
This is a great way to welcome in the summer sunshine and get the grill ready to go for the warm months. Out of all the healthy simple recipes I cook, this one also happens to be one of my favourite.
Fresh grilled Halibut with mango salsa and cilantro rice, refreshing and full of flavor and color.
Try these recipes for yourself and see — welcome in the summer in style.
a. Mango Salsa
Yields 6 servings
- 1 mango – peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1 green onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 fresh jalapeno chilli pepper, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 a red onion diced
- In a medium ceramic or glass bowl, mix the mango, red bell pepper, green onion, cilantro, jalapeno, red onion, lime juice, and lemon juice.
- Cover, and allow to sit at least 30 minutes before serving.
- The flavors blend beautifully and it is a very colorful salsa.
b. Cilantro Rice
Yields 6 servings
For the Rice
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 1/2 cups rice (white Basmati works great for this rice)
- 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- For the Cilantro Mixture
- 2/3 cup cilantro, loosely packed
- 1 jalapeno
- 1/4 cup chopped green onions
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Puree the above in a blender, or food processor, add to the cooked rice, stir in well.
- In a medium sauce pan, heat oil over medium heat.
- Add dry rice and cook for about 5 minutes or until rice becomes a golden brown color.
- Add in the garlic to the rice and saute for one more minute.
- Mix together the broth and the tomato paste, stir this mixture slowly into the hot pan so it does not splash up on you.
- Continue stirring and bring to a boil. Once it starts boiling, turn the heat to low and cover.
- Let it simmer for 20 minutes and then fluff with a fork.
- Stir in the Cilantro mixture and serve warm.
c. Simple Grilled Halibut
- 6–8 ounces of Halibut per person
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat grill for medium-high heat.
- Lightly oil grill grate.
- Brush fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, place the fish on the grill.
- Cook for 5 minutes per side, or until the fish is slightly flaky when pressed with a fork.
- Plate the fish then smother with the mango salsa.
- Serve with the colorful cilantro rice and welcome the sunny days.
3. Red Jambalaya
Everyone has a different idea of the best Jambalaya – and across the south everyone has a family recipe that is better & tastier.
As with all cultures some one else’s family always makes “the best”.
I prefer the red Jambalaya it has tomatoes in it compared to Cajun Jambalaya which is without tomato’s. I won’t turn either dish away mind you.
Jambalaya is easy to prepare for a crowd or just a sit down family dinner. Just make it in one pot and adjust the ingredients according to crowd size.
The goodness starts in the mixture of spices.
These herbs can lower blood pressure, cholesterol, help prevent cancers and help aid in weight loss.
Dish me up a big bowl please!
Serving size – 6
- 1 pound of (Meat or Seafood) chicken, ham, sausage – (Andouille, Chorizo or even Italian sausage), shrimp, fish, ground beef or stewing meat. (Although some of these ingredients are not traditional. They still taste great.)
- 2 cups of onions, bell peppers and celery in equal parts (trinity mix)
- 2 large tomato’s or 3 small tomato’s diced. Or you can use 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomato’s.
- 1 cup of okra
- Creole seasoning to taste – at least 1 tbsp, but season it to your taste . The recipe follows.
- 2 1/2 cups vegetable, meat or fish stock depending on which meat you are cooking.
- 1/2 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup long grain rice
- In a large pot (or a separate pan), put a little olive oil and add chicken cubes, sausage pieces, ham, or any other meat you are using (not seafood) and cook until well done.
- Remove meats and sauce the “trinity mix” for a few minutes until onions are slightly translucent but not brown.
- Add tomatoes, seafood or meat back in pot then add the okra creole seasoning, broth, and tomato paste.
- Bring mixture to a boil, then stir in rice.
- Reduce heat to minimum, cover with lid, and simmer until rice is cooked through – this will take 20 minutes to 1/2 hour.
- Don’t peek too much, but do check quickly a few times to make sure there is enough stock for the rice to finish cooking.
- Lift he lid, breath in the goodness and serve in large bowls.
- I love it with a great piece of corn bread.
Creole Spice Mix
- 3 Tablespoons paprika
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon black pepper
- 1 Tablespoon onion powder
- 1-1/2 Tablespoons cayenne powder
- 1 Tablespoon oregano
- 1 Tablespoon thyme
- Mix paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne, oregano, and thyme in a bowl with a whisk.
- Pour mixture into a spice bottle or other resealable container.
- Seal tightly and store in a dark area away from heat and light.
- Use Creole spice mix within 6 months.
- Shake container well before each use.
4. Strawberry Face Mask
I didn’t want to make this all about healthy simple recipes you can only eat. Strawberries are not just for shortcake!
You can create a beautiful summer treat for your skin and could really help make you face glow.
Strawberries contain salicylic acid, which is great for breakouts and heat bumps.
Lemon juice tightens the skin pores and gives you a refreshing feel.
- Mashed strawberries
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1tbsp yogurt
- 1 tbsp honey
How to make it?
- Mash all the items together, but don’t use a blender.
- You want a spreadable paste not juice.
- Apply it evenly on your face and lie down while it dries.
- Wash off with cold water.
Let Us Know…
We hope you enjoyed these delicious healthy simple recipes and you’re ready to try them out.
We’d love to hear how you get on in the comments below…