Welcome to the Wilder Way Wednesday posts. I haven’t posted one of these in a while, and so we’ll need to review.
About five or six years ago, I was at my heaviest weight … at least, I’m pretty sure it was my heaviest. I have no idea how much I actually weighed because I hadn’t been on a scale in years. But my knees hurt. My ankles ached. And I was in clothes so wide they could fit a sumo wrestler, so I’m pretty sure “heaviest” is an accurate statement.
I knew that if things didn’t change, I’d end up being a sad statistic where lifestyle choices tragically cut another woman’s life short.
That’s when I joined a few writer friends in Jasinda Wilder’s new group called Big Girls Do It Running. The name has since changed to You Can Do It, which you are free to join here.
It’s not a diet–it’s a lifestyle change. One that slowly pulls sugar addicts off the ledge and teaches how to avoid processed foods. It’s a great program because it doesn’t demand going cold turkey; it weans people off addictive food choices while slowly inserting healthier ones. At the end of eight weeks, my diet had totally changed, and I’ve never looked back.
But I’m an emotional eater. And over the course of this lovely pandemic, I’ve not been moving nearly enough and eating waaaaaay too much. (Just so you know, sugar-free cheesecake still has a ton of calories)
And so, I’ve decided to start blogging every Wednesday about healthy choices and how things are going. It’s my little way of trying to stay accountable. 🙂
This first recipe was inspired by my niece and is an amalgam of various recipes found on the net. I realize that some might not like food so heavy on the spices, so I’ve added a range of measurements. Start small and add more to taste.
As you can tell, I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl when it comes to cooking, and the recipe writing definitely shows it. 🙂
BTW, eggplant absorbs oil super fast, but I’ve found spritzing a side with olive oil and then throwing it on a hot pan is better than dousing the pan with oil and putting the eggplant in. Too much oil and not enough heat on the front end gives the eggplant a slimy quality in the finished product. If you aren’t into slicing and then frying the eggplant, another method is to cut it into cubes, spritz with olive oil and throw it in a 425-degree oven for 15 to 25 minutes until the pieces are roasted.
For those that are on THM, this is an S meal. Jasinda’s plan, it’s a black plate. 🙂
- 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic (I use about 6 cloves)
- 1/2 cup red wine (personally, I use 1-1 1/2 cups)
- 1 Tablespoon Herbs de Province (this takes everything to the next level 🙂 )
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice (honestly, I like it better without the allspice, but you be the judge)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-2 cups beef stock (I prefer the beef bone broth, but chicken works well too).
- 1 egg
- 14.5 ounce canned diced tomatoes with juice
- 2 large or 3 medium eggplants
- olive oil
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 8 oz package of cream cheese
- 2 cups mozzarella cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Slice or cube the eggplant and place on a paper towel (or a tea towel, whichever you prefer)
- liberally sprinkle with salt and set aside. (the salt helps draw out excess water, so the eggplant will need to sit for about 1/2 hour or so).
- Brown ground beef with onions and drain the fat off once well cooked.
- Add in the garlic and spices, wine, stock, tomatoes, and simmer.
- Taste and adjust accordingly. Set aside and let cool.
- If pan-frying eggplant, spritz the skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Wait until the pan is fully hot. Spritz olive oil on one side of the sliced eggplant and face oil side down in the pan. Let cook for two minutes, spritz the top side of the eggplant with olive oil, and sprinkle with a bit of salt before flipping over. Cook this side for two minutes until the center loses its white, starchy texture. Place cooked eggplant on a paper towel and continue until all the slices are fried.
- If oven roasting eggplant cubes, increase oven temperature to 425. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet and liberally spritz with olive oil (the cubes will stick without this step, so be sure the parchment paper is greasy.) Create a single layer of eggplant cubes on the baking sheet, spritz the top of the cubes with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. After 15 minutes, be sure to keep an eye on the eggplant, so it doesn’t burn. Cook until the vegetable is roasted, take it out of the oven, and set aside.
For the Bechamel sauce:
- In a large saucepan, turn the heat on medium to melt butter.
- Add heavy cream.
- Incorporate cubed cream cheese and stir until thick and creamy.
- Lower heat (I turn my heat off, but my stove is weird).
- Slowly add grated mozzarella, constantly stirring until the cheese is melted and smooth.
Putting it all together
- Grease the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan.
- Add the egg to the cooled meat mixture and stir until well incorporated
- place a layer of the eggplant on the bottom of the dish
- Cover the eggplant with the meat mixture.
- If you have leftover eggplant, put it on the top
- Pour the bechamel sauce over that
- Cook in a 350-degree oven for 40-50 minutes (the top will turn brown and bubbly in places, but watch that it doesn’t burn)
- Allow the dish to cool for 20-30 minutes before serving (I use heavy ceramic dishes, which tend to hold heat longer, so it has to set a while. If you use a metal or glass pan, it may only have to sit for 10 to 15 minutes).