Easy Healthy Craft Ideas (Rosh Hashanah)

IMG_0149Being that we are about to enter a long stretch of holiday and shabbat meals, I should be organizing my menu, working on my recipes, making sure I have the groceries I need… but for some reason I just can’t start the cooking yet.  Instead, I find myself busy looking for cute decorations and projects for my kids to help them get into the spirit and excitement of Rosh Hashanah.

IMG_0143My beautiful, brilliant and super resourceful niece who just visited us this past shabbos, passed on this adorable idea for a honey dish from Martha Stewart. So easy to do with a melon baller, but a regular spoon would work too.

 

My girls and I also had fun making cut-out cookies with Rosh Hashanah themed cookie cutters I picked up at Candy and Chocolate Creations.IMG_0157  We found a delicious and easy cookie recipe from comfybelly.com (one of my favorite websites for cooking and baking inspiration), completely grain-free and refined sugar free.  IMG_0161Mixing, shaping and cutting the dough was almost as fun as eating the apple, siddur and shofar shaped cookies cookies!IMG_0166

Apple Kugel

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Apples apples everywhere!  

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Although I may be one of the only people left who has not really begun to think about Rosh Hashanah menu planning yet… apple season falling out at the same time as this special holiday makes it a lot easier to be inspired with apple-filled recipes.

IMG_0067My daughters went apple picking with their school last week and came home with large bags filled with amazing crisp, sweet and absolutely delicious apples from a local farm. Right away we got to work with this easy and healthy apple and honey dish. A wonderful way to start a sweet New Year!

Apple Kugel

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Ingredients:

7 cups chopped apples (10 small or 7 large apples)

IMG_00741/2 lemon

2.5 cups almond flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

5 eggs

1/4 cup oil

1/3 cup honey

sprinkle cinnamon

 

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Peel and chop apples.  Sprinkle lemon juice over apples, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine almond flour, baking soda and salt.  Add eggs, oil and honey and mix well.

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Pour in greased ramekins and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon. Bake 40-45 minutes or until light brown.

Yield: 15 ramekins 

Happy and Healthy New Year to All!

Eggplant Parmesan Vegetable Lasagna

IMG_0047At first, I honestly had no idea what to call this delicious dinner creation.  On the one hand, it has all the components of eggplant parmesan, the eggplant, the breading (gluten-free), the sauce and cheese. On the other hand, it has the textures, and overflowing vegetable inside of a saucy lasagna.

It all started with a pretty bare looking fridge and a strong will to avoid going grocery shopping. With an eggplant, sauce and cheese in stock, eggplant parmesan was an obvious choice but just didn’t seem to offer enough nutritious value. Luckily, I found one very large zucchini to use, and, inspired by the recipe for “Veggie Eggplant Parmesan” from A Taste of Wellness by Rochel Weiss, I decided to turn the parmesan concept into a vegetable loaded lasagna casserole.

My favorite memories of lasagna are of my mom’s saucy lasagna where every bite was exploding with vegetables and saucy goodness.  My mom has always been great at spontaneously adding vegetables into meals and is a constant inspiration for my healthy cooking.

IMG_0034Another valuable lasagna lesson that I learnt from my mom was that if you use enough sauce, you don’t need to boil the lasagna noodles before baking.  I applied that rule to the eggplant here, and decided to forgo the frying or baking that is typically done as a separate step before layering the eggplant (also a good way to cut unnecessary calories).  Fortunately, breaded eggplant and noodles are more similar than one may think, it totally worked! The resulting combination of breaded eggplant, vegetables, sauce and cheese was an amazing blend of tastes and textures and, in my opinion, can only be known as an Eggplant Parmesan Vegetable Lasagna!

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Eggplant Parmesan Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant

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1 large zucchini, chopped small

1 small red onion, chopped small

2 tablespoon oil, divided

2 eggs

2 cups tomato sauce

2 cups almond flour

1/2 teaspoon sea salt (with extra for sprinkling on eggplant

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or preferred cheese)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Slice eggplant into pieces 1/2 inch thick.  Lay eggplant slices flat on paper towel and sprinkle lightly with salt.

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Sautée onion in oil on medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add zucchini, reduce temperature to low, and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  While vegetables are cooking, beat eggs well and place in large shallow dish. In another large, shallow dish, mix together flour, salt, pepper and paprika. Prepare baking dish (I used an oval casserole dish, but a rectangular 9 by 13 or square 8 by 8 pan also would work) by spreading one tablespoon of oil and 5-7 tablespoons tomato sauce on the bottom, enough to cover pan.  Dry off excess moisture on eggplant, then dip slices in egg, shake gently and coat in flour mixture.

IMG_0026 Place one layer of battered eggplant on the bottom of the pan (over sauce) to cover as much space as possible (I sometimes cut the battered eggplant to fill gaps, but it’s fine of there are some empty spots…)

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Cover eggplant with sautéed veggies and then top vegetable layer thinly with tomato sauce (4-5 tablespoons). Add another layer of breaded eggplant and top with remaining sauce and cheese.

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Cover tightly and bake 1.5 hours, uncover and bake 10-15 more minutes, until lightly browned.

IMG_0059Enjoy!

Yield: 4 servings