Friday, August 13, 2010

Eggplant Slices with Pomegranate Molasses and Cashew Sesame Crème

As promised I am keeping with the Middle Eastern theme for Ramadan for as long as I can. I love Arabic food and don’t make it often enough. I have decided that Ramadan is a great excuse to prod myself to focus on cuisine I enjoy but don’t often cook.
This is not an original recipe but my version of a traditional dish called batinjan bil rumman wal laban. The original dish uses dairy yogurt and oil which you know I don’t use. I also substituted a few things and added others. This recipe keeps with the spirit of the original but is definitely my own. Here is what I made tonight:

Eggplant Slices with Pomegranate Molasses and Cashew Sesame Crème
Serves 4


1 large eggplant, thinly sliced (approximately ¼ inch slices)
Approximately 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses and an equal amount of lemon juice or pomegranate
juice to thin the molasses
sumac or ground sour grapes (maybe a ¼ teaspoon)
½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes
2 tablespoons raw sesame seeds
splash apple cider vinegar (maybe 1 tablespoon, not much)
approximately ¼ cup water
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons pine nuts and/or pomegranate arils


Start the raw cashews soaking at least 30 minutes, preferably two hours before you will be eating. I keep small jars of cashews soaking in the refrigerator to use later. That way I don't have to wait for the nuts to soak to make something spur of the moment.

Combine the pomegranate molasses and lemon or pomegranate juice together and stir to combine. Place the eggplant slices on your dehydrator tray. Brush the top of the slices with the pomegranate mixture. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with sumac or ground sour grapes.

Dehydrate on 145 degrees, or bake on low, until the eggplant is just starting to soften. I only used the dehydrator because I didn’t want to turn on the oven. Typically I made this dish in the oven.

In your blender combine the drained raw cashews, sesame seeds, apple cider vinegar, water, and garlic and process until smooth. You may need to add more water depending on the texture you want.

To serve, top the sliced eggplant with the cashew crème and sprinkle with pine nuts and/or pomegranate arils.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 201.56
Calories From Fat (50%) - 100.48

Total Fat - 12.01g
Saturated Fat - 1.69g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 10.41mg
Potassium - 458.08mg
Total Carbohydrates - 22g
Fiber - 5.94g
Sugar - 8.67g
Protein - 5.53g


The key to getting this right is “cooking” the eggplant until it is warm and soft. If you don’t dehydrate the eggplant long enough this won’t taste good. Also if you dry it too long it will get crispy. Just check it after an hour to see how it is doing. I “cooked” mine about 2 hours. The exact cooking time depends on how thinly you slice the eggplant and the temperature you set the dehydrator.

This raw version reminds me a lot of the cooked original only less greasy and much more pleasant to eat, in my opinion. It was very hard for me to give up cooking with olive oil but now that I have I can’t imagine using it anymore. I swear it mutes the flavor of food in addition to making it slimy. Yuck!

Dan, who does not love eggplant, enjoyed this dish quite a bit. The pomegranate molasses and lemon added a nice sweet but tart flavor to the eggplant. It is nice with the creaminess of the cashew sesame topping.

Unusual ingredient from this recipe:

Sumac is a dark red berry/purple berry from a bush in the same family as cashew that is dried and ground. It is high in tannins which gives it an astringent taste that mimics lemon. It was used in cooking by the ancient Romans and Egyptians. Sumac is featured in many Middle Eastern and North African dishes. It is used in salad, rice dishes, yogurt based sauces, meats and vegetables. Sumac is found in zahtar and spice blend of thyme, and sumac. I order mine from Zamouri spices because I haven’t found it locally.

Too fat for 15:

Have any of you seen the show “Too Fat for 15” on the Style next work? I just saw it last night for the first time and my mouth was hanging open through most of the show. Talk about sad. I just can’t imagine how these kids ended up where they were when the episode was filmed. I wanted to cry for them. Each of these young kids is at least 100 pounds overweight. One child weighted 510 pounds. If you have difficulty watching children struggle and get emotional don’t watch this show. I don’t know that I can continue to watch this show but I am going to try.

I am very interested in nutrition which is why I wanted to see what the show is going to teach the kids. One thing that stood out to me was how the kids responded when asked what foods were their favorites. No surprise the kids answered pasta, pizza, sweets, chips and fried foods. Just as I expected the foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt were the ones they loved. The more I hear and read the more certain I am Dr. Kessler is on to something with his book, “The End of Overeating.” When was the time this you heard someone say they are addicted to salad?

The show didn’t talk as much about nutrition as I was hoping. However they did mention goal setting which made me smile. I think the show has promise. I hope they focus more on specific lifestyle changes and less on drama in the next episode. Either way the clear take away message is that it is critically important what we teach our children about food and nutrition. If we feed them unhealthy food the consequences can be devastating.

Healthy cleaning:

This is I topic I don’t typically discuss but it is an important aspect of who I am. As most of you know we are vegan for health reasons. In my opinion keeping chemicals out of our home is another aspect of being healthy. Initially I changed from standard commercial products to healthy cleaners (like Method and Seventh Generation). But now I have given up those things as well. I imagine you are thinking I am crazy about now. How can I possibly keep my home clean? That is what you are thinking right? It is easy actually, I use a steam cleaner. A few years ago I bought a large machine on wheels that I use to clean the bathroom, counters and floors. It is amazing how well it works and there are no nasty chemicals lurking in the air in our house. In fact I am surprised by how easy it is to use and how well it cleans, and yes I was skeptical that it would do a good job. If you have been considering moving away from chemicals I would encourage you to make the leap. Our home is much fresher without the nasty toxic smell of cleaners lingering in the air.

My food since the last post:

As I mentioned I skipped breakfast yesterday. I wasn’t in the mood for food, either eating it or preparing it. I don’t normally skip breakfast in fact I almost always eat it because I know how important that is. But some days you need to listen to your body which was how I was feeling yesterday.

When lunch time came around I was a little hungry but still not much. I made a light little salad with shredded romaine, cold cooked quinoa, salsa and raw sunflower seeds.

I know this doesn’t like much food, because it isn’t. However I was so tired from not sleeping well again that I did nothing yesterday. When you are sitting most of the day you just don’t need many calories to fuel that little bit of activity.

Around 5pm my stomach started growling and I knew I needed to get a bite to eat. Since Dan has been working late recently I also knew it had to be substantial. I made myself a giant salad of a head of romaine, ¼ cucumber, ½ cup salsa, 1 organic heirloom tomatoes (they are the best), 1 shredded carrot and ½ a haas avocado. Yes it was one big salad but that is just volume not calories. This mammoth bowl of salad had only 350 calories, 25 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein. Combine that with 51,00IU of vitamin A, 184mg of vitamin C, 300mg of calcium, and 980mcg of folate and you have one nutritious meal.

Dinner was ridiculously late because Dan is so swamped at work. I almost skipped dinner completely but I wanted Dan to eat. We had a serving of the eggplant dish above and called it a night.


I slept a little better last night so I was up to exercising this morning once Dan left for work. It felt so good to get moving this morning. The exercise fueled my appetite which resulted in a big breakfast for me.

Breakfast this morning was a small (about 8 ounce) glass of fresh veggie and fruit juice. I also made myself a bowl of the red lentil and brown rice soup and a salad. The salad was really good. I used romaine, tomato, cucumber, diced eggplant from last night, along with the sauce I used on the eggplant. I topped the salad with pine nuts. I have never used this leftover eggplant dish on salad before but it was really great. No doubt I will be using it that way again.

Since it is Friday you know what that means. I have to check on my parents, do a little cleaning at their place and run some errands. As usual I also want to get a few things accomplished at my house so I can relax this weekend.

I will be back later with a post at least that is my plan now.


  1. So glad you slept better and got in a good morning workout. Happy Friday!

  2. Heather,

    Thanks, I was happy to have slept a little better too. Our weather this morning is great. Mid 70's and breezy. Friday started out well. Any morning when I can open the windows and let in fresh air is a good one. ;-)

    Happy Friday to you too!

  3. This really does look great. I can't imagine the texture when dehydrated vs cooked, but since I have an oven that turns down to 145F, I can try it your way!

    I've never thought about a steam cleaner. I use natural cleaning products which, to be honest, don't always work that well. Maybe steaming is a better option.

  4. Ricki,

    The eggplant texture was more substantial and chewier than when it is cooked in oil. It was similar to a grilled portobello but less juicy if that makes sense.

    I love my steam cleaner. This is my second one. What I like about this one is the tank is large enought to steam for over 30 minutes which is very helpful. I agree with you that many of the natural cleaners don't work so well. ;-)

    hope you have a great weekend,

  5. I just posted a Middle Eastern inspired carrot dip! We must be on the same wavelength today:))

  6. Aimee,

    I will be right over to take a look. ;-)


  7. I hope your good morning continued and that you had a good day!

    I make my own cleaning products with vinegar and baking soda etc. most of the time--they work great!


  8. Courtney,

    My day was going great until I foolishly decided to watch a movie. Next time I will make certain whatever I watch is a comedy. Let's just say sad movie equals sniffling and crying. That was a bad plan. ;-)

    I also use baking soda and vinegar on some things and you are right it does work well. Thanks for bringing that up.

    have a great weekend,

  9. Good to hear that you awoke a fresh :) Sad movies are difficult to watch for me too as it seems almost masochistic to subject ourselves to sadness or heart pains willingly lol - I avoid dramas or overly suffering movies. It's supposed to be entertainment anyway!
    Cool to hear about the steam cleaner - I have lusted for one of them for ages, but have been skeptical - I will have to treat myself to one some day. Cleaning and personal care chemicals are pretty bad now - think of all the harmful chemicals you would put on or are exposed to in a day if you followed a "normal" regime - antiperspirant, makeup, dish soaps, air fresheners, hand creams etc. I felt a huge difference when I moved away from the chemicals and have learned to change my expectations when it comes to what it means to be "clean". You don't need bleach and antibacterial soap that's for sure :P
    Take care

  10. Possum,

    I didn't expect what I watched to be sad. Apparently I am far too senstive at the moment.

    I really love my steam cleaner. I bought a big floor model from Saeco that holds a good bit of water. That is very useful it you will be using it to clean a lot at one time.

    Personal care products are very scary. I have given up most of those as well. You should look at EWG's websit if you haven't. It has a lot of wonderful information.

    hope you are having a good weekend,

  11. Thanks Ali :) Got in an ocean swim today and a long walk and sun, so I am feeling very well.
    I love the EWG's work and I am lucky to be able to use my academic databases still to look up lots of info. I find it funny how companies try and cover for the finding released by EWG by saying that their chemicals only cause cancer in larger doses...that's reassuring, Such an upside down world we live in!
    Hope you are enjoying the weekend as well :)

  12. Possum,

    Your day sounds glorious. I love the ocean. :-)

    It is scary the things that go into the products people use everyday. Initially I found it hard to avoid chemicals but it is much easier since I have been doing it for so long now. I find cleaning products to smell so toxic now.

    That is nice that you still have acess to databases from school. I wish I was interested in this stuff when I was in college.

    Enjoy your Sunday,


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