Monday, October 18, 2010

Hungarian Spiced Eggplant and Mushroom topped Quinoa

When we got up this morning it was a very brisk 45 degrees. I am not a fan of cold weather which means I am not looking forward to our temperatures dipping further. Yesterday was actually very nice and even reached 77 degrees. Apparently we needed to pay for that by being cooler than normal today. Needless to say I have been drinking hot water with lemon slices all day to stay warm. There is nothing worse than being cold in my opinion.

The day started with a wimper but ramped up fairly early. Monday’s are always hectic here but today was a bit more so. My to-do list at the moment is a tad out of control. With a little luck I can get my list knocked off by mid-week leaving Thursday to relax. Well …. that is my plan at least. We will see if it actually happens.


I packed the majority of the leftover split pea soup in Dan’s lunch. But there was about a cup leftover for me while I forgot to save any smoked mushrooms at least I remembered to save a dollop of truffle crème to put on top.

To go with the soup I ate the rest of the pesto topped green beans and cucumbers. I was surprised by how filling my lunch was.

Green drain cleaning:

Using toxic chemicals to open a slow drain is something we do as a last resort. I don’t like having those nasty things in my house. To cut down on the need for those chemicals once a week (on Monday here) I put a cup of baking soda down the kitchen drain followed by 2 cups of vinegar that I slowly pour in. I let this sit for 10 minutes and then follow with at least 4 cups of boiling water. The baking soda and vinegar is supposed to cut through the grease that builds up in the pipes.

I buy both the baking soda (in a 12 pound bag) and the vinegar (in a 5 liter jug) at Costco. Since I also use these in many of my green cleaner recipes I can never have too much of either of these products on hand.

Since I started doing this weekly I haven’t had any need for chemical or mechanical drain cleaning which leads me to think it is working. At the very least my sink always smells clean. ;-)

Nutritional misinformation:

I am always surprised by the amount of misinformation I read about health and/or nutrition. Typically this happens more with the blogosphere but it is also found in books. When I see bad information in the blogosphere I can blow it off since it wasn’t something that I consider to be credible in general. However when I read bad advice in books I am much more annoyed.

The nutritional misinformation I read yesterday was worse than I have seen in a while. You would think that health based books would have an RD (registered dietitians) confirm the accuracy of the information contained within but clearly that is not always the case.

I try to make certain things I write are well documented (and from reputable scientific sources) before I mention them on the blog. However nutrition is something that is a moving target which means that something that is thought to be accurate today might be laughed at in 2 years.

The reason I am mentioning this is that I want everyone to know that if they read something somewhere else and it doesn’t sound right they can ask me what I know about the subject. I am happy to share what I have read and where I have read it. The idea of bad information swirling around is a personal pet peeve of mine. Additionally I actually enjoy doing nutrition research which means your questions are welcomed and appreciated.


Somehow I didn’t end up starting dinner tonight until after 7:30. I guess I have gotten used to Dan’s crazy schedule so there didn’t seem to be any reason to rush. I had no idea what I was going to cook which is not usual. This recipe showed up in my email box from Real Simple and I thought I could make it something like it only healthier of course. Employing my use what you have on hand methodology I knew diced eggplant and mushrooms would make a good stand in for the “meat” and that is how dinner was born. Here is what I made:

Hungarian Spiced Eggplant and Mushrooms
Serves 6

Eggplant Ingredients:

1 large red onion, peeled and finely diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely diced
6 cups peeled, diced tomatoes
1 large eggplant, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cut into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
½ teaspoon dill weed (dried)
¾ teaspoon caraway seed
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon vegan worchestershire sauce, adds umami but could be omitted
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Accompaniment ingredients:

1 ½ cups quinoa
3 cups water
Cashew creme fraiche made with 1 cup raw cashews, ½ cup water and a splash of lemon


Combine all the ingredients for the eggplant dish and simmer until the eggplant is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Prepare the quinoa about 20 minutes before you want to eat.

To serve top the quinoa with the Hungarian spiced eggplant and finish with cashew crème fraiche.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 369.05
Calories From Fat (32%) - 118.99

Total Fat - 14.02g
Saturated Fat - 2.52g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 52.15mg
Potassium - 1224.35mg
Total Carbohydrates - 51.97g
Fiber - 9.79g
Sugar - 8.82g
Protein - 13.52g


This is one those dishes I toss together when I need to get food on the table fast. This dish came together in under 30 minutes from start to finish.  You can make this with any veggies you choose.  Alternately you can change the dish completely by altering the spices. This would be good with Indian seasoning or Italian seasonings.

Signing out:

That is going to be it for me tonight. I hope everyone had a good Monday. Talk to you again soon.


  1. I've been meaning to ask -- at what temp. do you keep your thermostat? And why not turn up your heat a degree or two when you're really cold? I keep mine at 69 during the day, but when I'm too cold I'll bump it up for just a bit. Hate to spend the extra money (and energy), but I don't want to be miserable either!

    I haven't had a clogged drain in ages, but maybe I should try your method "just in case". Do you treat all your drains or just your kitchen sink?

    I hate seeing all the conflicting dietary information that makes it so difficult for people to know what to eat and avoid. And there always seems to be some criticism of scientifically-supported data; for example, the heart reversal study presented by Ornish. That's one reason why I have opted (at least for now) to take a more moderate approach than you and many of your blog followers (from what I can tell). I understand the problems that can arise from eating in "moderation", but it seems to work pretty well for me. I'm healthy, a good weight, and don't feel as though a food indulgence now and then will harm the contrary, I think it's a wonderful and enjoyable part of life. As long as it's kept under control--which I admit isn't always easy!

  2. Loving this recipe - of course I love eggplant, mushrooms, and quinoa! I haven't tried that recipe for drain cleaning, need to give it a shot though. I read that vinegar is also supposed to kill mold, but it's never worked for me in the shower quite like I'd hoped. I have mixed it with borax though for a scrub.

  3. Laura,

    Our house is over 100 years old so what temp we set the thermostat is only a hint at what temp it is inside. I always get cold hands and feet even in the summer. I guess I have thin blood or something, LOL.

    I only use the baking soda and vinegar in the kitchen sink since it is supposed to be good at dissolving fat which I don't expect in my other drains. But maybe I should see if it has any impact on hair clogs in the bathroom.

    Part of the problem with conflicting dietary information is that people have their own built in biases. There is no hard science to back up that consuming meat and dairy is more healthy than avoiding it but you that doesn't stop people from claimining otherwise. It is very sad the amount of misinformation that is disemminated.

    I will say it is tough to go against the mainstream in terms of dietary choices. But when I think of the health of the country in general it makes if very easy for me to stay on track. Also I have eaten this way so long now it has become my new normal and fatty food not only tastes bad it makes me physically sick. I never thought that would happen, BTW. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  4. Heather,

    Glad you like the sound of this one. I had forgotten it includes all your favorites, LOL.

    I read that same thing about vinegar and mold but haven't had to try it yet. I hate the idea of using bleach or mold killer too. Thanks for the borax tip. I will keep that in mind. :-)


  5. I will have to try the baking soda and vinegar method. My sink drain seems to be a bit stopped up, because it doesn't drain as well as it used to. I've been putting off buying the draino, because I didn't want to use those chemicals either.
    I agree with you on the nutrition info in "The Kind Diet" book. I'm still learning about all the nutrition, but I have found a lot of what she says not to match up with some of my research findings.
    BTW...those green beans look delish!

  6. Michelle,

    If your drain is running slow you may need to use the baking soda and vinegar treatment more than once. I have used it three or four times in the course of an hour at my parents house when their drain was running slow. They also sell mechanical drain openers (I think it is called a drain snake) which we use in our bathrooms to grab hair.

    The nutrition advice in the book is off the mark in many cases. She should stick to acting and leave nutrition to the RD's.

    The green bean dish is very easy and quick. I described it in the post that covered Sunday lunch.

    hope you are having a nice Tuesday,

  7. Wow - you really did a number on that recipe! I think the eggplant and mushrooms would go really well with Hungarian paprika.

    It is funny how nutrition, as well as most other researched things, changes over time. My grandfather would drink a glass of cold buttermilk "for health" which no one probably does any more.

    At my work, they had a healthy recipe contest (which I entered!) that was judged by RDs. The winning recipe (have I told you this story before?) was turkey burgers made with low-fat cheese and specially bred low-carb potatoes. I was surprised and disappointed. All that is to say I wonder what RDs know, or if they're focused on making small changes to an out of control lifestyle.

  8. Jessica,

    I have many people ask me where I get my idea from that is why I showed that link. When I see something it will inspire me but as you noticed the finished product is completely different. LOL

    It is crazy how much science changes over time. However I think a lot of the problem is how studies are designed that try to identify the impact. There are so few vegans and even fewer healthy vegans it is hard to document the health benefits.

    Ugh, the turkey burger with low fat cheese healthy recipe winner is very depressing. It is no wonder Americans have such poor health. *sigh*

    The RD’s I worked with in hospitals were all omnivores. Most of them ate a more healthful diet than the average American but it was still omni. I think RD’s have the same biases that the studies and general public have. Most people don’t want to hear negative information about their bad habits. I think that is just human nature.

    I only know one vegan RD and she and I discuss nutrition quite often. It is so wonderful to have someone to talk to nutrition about. I have tried to encourage her to start a blog but so far she isn’t interested. Who knows maybe she change her mind one day. ;-)


  9. Ali-
    I love the idea of green beans and cucumbers topped with pesto!!!
    Hope you're week is going well. I had a hectic couple of days and now have company for the week.

  10. Aimee,

    Glad you like the idea of the green beans, cucumber and pesto. I thought it worked well too.

    My week has been crazy so far actually. Too many things going on. I hope to be able to catch my breath tomorrow afternoon.

    Enjoy your company,

  11. Hi Ali!

    Love that you're sharing info on green cleaning--super helpful. And thank you, as always, for nutrition info...for being a resource who I'm sure many of us turn to. :) Whenever I hear about anything nutrition-related, my first stage of research is to do a search on your blog, and see what you know about it. I trust you more than google!


  12. LJ,

    You absolutely made my day. Thank you so much! If you ever have any questions please send me an email or post a comment. You know I am happy to share anything I know or research what I don't know.

    big hugs,

  13. I'd love to hear more of your non-toxic cleaning ideas, both for household and for the body, if you have any. I'm also trying to think of a substitute for my most missed use of olive oil, pastes I used to put up of olive oil and softer leafy herbs like basil and cilantro. I used to freeze them in small amounts to throw into things. Water hasn't been as successful.

  14. Elisabeth,

    Thanks for weighing in on the homemade cleaner question. I thought I wasn't the only one interested in that.

    I use pureed nuts with herbs and then freeze them and that works fairly well. It isn't the same as oil but it works better than anything else I have tried. I also tried using lemon juice and water with the herbs and didn't like it either.



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