Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Healthy Dinner Alternative

If you are a meat lover, this dinner will turn you off, totally. As we just returned home from Cameron Highland with about 15kg of vegetable that are fresher than what you can get in the market (almost, as some were just harvested when we bought them), we decided to have an all vegetable/vegetarian dinner that consist of brinjal, zucchini, capsicum, tomatoes, more tomatoes and butterhead leave. The 3 days of pigging out at the scrumptious meal served by Strawberry Park Resort sort of call for an overhaul of the system again. I guess by now, some of you might think i am overdoing the "healthy eating regime".
I kid you not, it is only in the interest of good health.
The menu for dinner was to grill all the vegetables except baby tomatoes and butterhead. All vegetable will be immersed in the homemade olive oil infused with herbs (such as basil, bay leave, oregano and parsley) and with the perfect ratio of 1 part of balsamic vinegar to 6 parts of extra virgin olive oil.
Shake before serving
You can grill the vegetable over a non-stick pan or if you have a grilling pan (can be bought at that Swedish furniture store with most stuff made in China), it gives more visual effect to the "grilling".
Cut and sliced with CRKT M16-14T. The vegetable received Titanium treatment. No guess which EDC will be reviewed soon ;-)
I decided to add some nuts into the salad. Wifey hard boiled two eggs as well, and that too, will be used for the salad to add on some protein into the ruminant diet. How many type of nuts did you spot from the photo above? One tip to share is to cut the vegetable in large chunk. The brinjal was divided into 4 cut laterally. The capsicum too, in 4 slices. Same as the zucchini and tomato. That would make it easier for portion control as well if you are a calorie-granny like me.
When grilling vegetable, care must be taken not to do it over high-heat. Medium or low heat on hot grilling pan work best. Olive oil were used to line the pan so that they do not stick too much on the surface. using olive oil also meant that the smoking point is lower. If your pan starts to smoke, that meant the pan is too hot. Lower the heat, or kill it and use the residue heat on the cast iron pan for grilling.
Looks good already
Another important tip to share is to grill the vegetable that will take the longest to cook first. In this case, the brinjal and zucchini goes into the pan first. For a bit of flavor, you can sprinkle some salt (i use sea salt) over the vegetable instead of rubbing the salt on them as if you are marinating them. Sodium causes water retention and that is one thing you would want to avoid if you are watching your weight.
While the vegetable are being grilled, this is the best opportunity to prepare the salad. Wash the the leafy vegetable thoroughly and then drip dry them to get rid of the access water. Then, toss in the baby tomatoes and pour in generous amount of the homemade dressing (olive oil infused herbs with balsamic vinegar) and toss it lightly. Leave it there until it is time to serve.
Remember to turn the vegetable at the grill to avoid charring or burning them. Do it consistently until the vegetable is semi cooked. Overcooked vegetable will turn color and will lose it's nutritional value.
Remove the vegetable from the pan and then pour generous amount of the same dressing (ya, i know, i am boring and predictable) over the vegetable and allow it to soak the oil up. The herbs will be covering the grilled vegetable and prevent them from drying out, or turning soggy.
If you love nuts like me, throw them into the still hot grilling pan (heat/fire is shut off) and let them get toasted for a while. It will bring out the oil in them and as you smell the distinctive nutty smell, pour them over into the salad and toss it again lightly. End it with the Eggs, sliced whichever way you want and place them randomly on top for that "visual". For me, food that look good is a bonus. :)
Can we eat now? Seriously?
As the food are proportioned for two person, the total calorie per person in this dinner is about 350kcal. Fiber intake is high - perfect for overnight digestive and a "flushed" system the next day. The calories are mostly from the olive oil, eggs and nuts. Vegetable by it's own carries very little calorie but packed a huge punch when it comes to phyto nutrients. Don't forget those known cancer-fighting properties in tomatoes and anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil and nuts oil. You get first grade protein via the eggs. This is a good alternative than the usual dinner that Malaysian eat - which will typically overload the system and causes indigestion before one retires to bed.
Enjoy the visual!
Grilled Vegetable and Salad on a plate in the foreground. Bon Appetit!

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