ALL THE Cooking Weekend – Zucchini Brownies, Cauli Pizzas, Cheesy “Bread” Sticks and Eggplant Pizza Bites

I cannot recall when last I’ve spent so much time in our kitchen! This past weekend was all about trying out new (and old and trusted) LCHF recipes to ensure we stayed legal and on the banting wagon. Some of us did better than others *cough cough looking at you Chicken cough cough*.

I’m now down 3kg’s since getting serious about what I eat again from 4th January. I really should be happier with my results as I’m only two weeks in and percentage wise that’s a fifth of what I want to lose, but somehow I’m not. When I got on the scale this morning I was actually rather disappointed – somehow my silly brain expected a miracle because I spent an extra 20 minutes on a treadmill walking this weekend HAHAHAHAHA. Anyway, it’s a start. ONWARD!

Here are the things we shoved in our faces this weekend.

Mini Cauliflower Pizza’s

Unlike most recipes for a cauliflower pizza base, this one doesn’t require ninja skills on drainage and odd scraps of material. I used a recipe from GirlVersusDough found on Tablespoon with two variations – I added an additional egg as well as a 1/4 cup of almond flour. Probably not strictly necessary but I felt it gave the “dough” a bit more substance and helps combat the natural excess fluid resulting from not going all ninja on your cooked cauliflower pre baking.

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Brinjal Pizza Bites

Sensing a theme here? 😛 I love eggplant. It’s an odd looking vegetable and as a kid I despised the things, but with age comes a more refined (fussy, if you ask the other half) palate.

I made these by slicing an eggplant vertically into roughly 2cm thick slices, coating them with coconut oil and popping into a 180 degree C oven for about 40 minutes, flipping them regularly. While that was going I made a simple tomato sauce base which was one can chopped tomato and onion mix (All Gold – they tend to have the lowest carb count from the canned mixes), a sprinkle of Xylitol, chopped chilli’s and a few dashes of Maggi Aroma sauce (my absolute favorite secret weapon ingredient!) and let it all simmer away until it thickened to my liking. I topped the brinjal slices with the tomato base, added a mix of grated mozzarella and gouda on top, sprinkled some mixed herbs over it all, and popped back into the oven for 10 minutes. These are damn tasty.

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Cheesy “Bread” Sticks:

I used up the remaining “dough” from my cauli mini pizzas to go with our braaied lamb chops yesterday to make a banting version of cheesy breadsticks, and they turned out damn well. Simply spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray, thin your “dough” out to roughly 1cm thick, top with your choice of toppings and cheese (I put dehydrated olives, chilli’s and mixed herbs on mine as well as a mix of grated mozzarella and cheddar), and pop into oven on low temp (mine was at 100 C) for about 40 minutes, or until you’re happy with the colour and texture. I didn’t manage to get a great pic of these, and they disappeared fairly quickly, but here you go none the less 😛

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THE WEEKEND WINNER – Zucchini Brownies

OMFG. PERFECTION. Seriously – Karina deserves a damn medal for this recipe! The only thing I did differently to her instructions was to throw all my ingredients in one bowl and mix with spoon, because I’m lazy that way – she does dry first and then adds wet ingredients. So, her already easy recipe just got easier – my brownies were still ridiculously good. MADE WITH BABY MARROW’S. Yes, I know, I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one. These passed three sweet tooth tester’s palates, and all agreed they are fantastic. You don’t even feel like it’s a banting / low carb sub for a treat – it tastes just like the real thing. Here’s the recipe from Cafe Delites for you:

 

 
 Serves: 16 Brownies
 
Low Carb Zucchini Brownies are so incredibly moist and fudgy AND flour-less and healthy! All in one bowl! Hello low carb lovers!
Weight Watchers: 2pp per brownie!
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup finely shredded zucchini (use the smallest blade on a cheese grater. It should look like a puree).
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, measured in melted state (or sub with any vegetable oil you have)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup natural granulated sweetener (or granulated sugar of choice — coconut; white sugar) *See Notes
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup peanut flour
  • ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (or ¼ cup if you don’t like them too rich)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 squares Lindt 90% chocolate (or chocolate of choice), cut into pieces/chunks
 
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 176°C | 350°F. Line a 8×8″ baking pan with baking?parchment paper, or lightly grease with oil spray. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the zucchini, butter, oil, egg, sweetener (or sugar), and vanilla until well combined. Add the peanut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; folding through slowly until just combined. The batter will be thick but shouldn’t be dry. (It depends on how much liquid your zucchini has! If too dry, add 1-2 tablespoons of water). Fold in half of the chocolate chunks; pour batter into prepared pan; sprinkle remaining chocolate chunks over the top.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until the brownies spring back when gently touched. (If testing with a toothpick, they will be very moist in the centre BUT they do set and harden when removed from the oven.)
  4. Allow to cool completely (about half an hour); cut into squares and chill to semi-set.
  5. If storing at room temperature they’re best eaten within 2 days. If refrigerating, they last 3-4 days.
 
NOTES
I use a sweetener that measures 1:1 with normal sugar. If using a stronger sweetener, measure the amount needed for ⅓ cup normal sugar.
 
NUTRITION INFORMATION
Serving size: per brownie Calories: 71 Fat: 5.6g Carbohydrates: 4.3g Sugar: 1.3g Fiber: 1.6g Protein: 3.4g
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So there you have it – a rather busy weekend in the kitchen and some truly good food, all legal if you’re banting / avoiding sugars and carbs.
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LCHF EGGPLANT PIZZA BITES

Or aubergine, or brinjal, whatever makes you happier 😛

I was browsing around for something to do with the remainder of my brinjal’s after I used them to make my eggplant lasagna (bobotie), and saw a few suggestions on using them to make pizza bites. Can’t let a good eggplant go to waste I say, so I set about making my own version. This, just like the breakfast egg muffins, is a great versatile recipe as it’s really down to your taste how you make your version – experiment, have fun! Here’s mine:

EGGPLANT / BRINJAL / AUBERGINE PIZZA BITES
“Pizza” bases
1 x medium sized eggplant
Coarse sea salt
Butter / ghee
1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
1/2 cup Ground almonds (you could use almond flour here – I just didn’t have any and I think this actually works better for some crunch)
1 Tbsp Chermoula seasoning from Woolies (anything that’ll add flavour without extra salt really)
Tomato sauce
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 tsp of garlic
2 Tbsp chili & ginger jam (as I said – versatile, use whatever you like here – I just wanted to add some interesting flavour)
Ghee as needed
“Pizza” toppings
4 shoulder bacon rashers
Ghee
Mozzarella and cheddar cheese

First off, cut the eggplant up into half a cm slices, or as close to that as you can manage. Most NB, try and keep them consistent, and never go thicker than 1cm. Lay these flat on top of coarse ground sea salt, and then cover the layer with more coarse sea salt. This is to draw water out to ensure you don’t land up with soggy pizza bites.

You can see here the water that gets drawn from your eggplant:

I left mine “drawing” for an hour, and then wiped them down with paper towel to remove the salt crystals and excess moisture on the slices. Now you’ll want to coat them for their oven bake debut. In a large mixing bowl, mix together your grated Parmesan, ground almonds and seasoning of choice. A note here re seasoning – be careful not to use anything with added salt; as the brinjal would have absorbed some of the salt flavouring from its “drawing bath” beforehand. Now throw your slices in the dry mix and toss to coat thoroughly. The ghee mentioned above is used to coat the tray you’re using to bake your bites on, so go ahead and grease that up WELL (avoids breakage when flipping later on…). Preheat oven to 180 degrees (C).

Lay the slices flat on your now well greased baking sheet, and pop into the oven for around 15 minutes, and then turn them and do the same for the other side. You’ll want to keep an eye on your slices as varying thicknesses will vary in cooking time, and trust me when I say that the last thing you want are burnt to a crisp slices after all the effort you’ve already put in. You’ll cry. I did 😛

While these are in, prepare your tomato sauce base and fry your bacon. For the bacon, simply cut into little strips about 1cm wide and max 3cm long and fry in ghee until cooked. For the sauce base, combine all the ingredients you want to use in a hot pan, and let cook for at least 30 minutes – or until your “sauce” has reduced to a nice thick consistency. Remember, the eggplant itself by nature is soggy, so you want to avoid adding any extra moisture to your bites wherever possible. Once the sauce has reduced to a consistency you’re happy with, remove from heat.

You’re now ready to build your pizza bites! I placed just under a teaspoon of my tomato sauce (paste) onto each bite, topped that with a mix of grated mozzarella and cheddar (go mad here with whichever cheeses are your favourite), and then topped those with my bacon bits. Pop back into your oven for around 10 minutes, or until the cheese is nicely melted and oozing 🙂 And voila!! An awesomely tasty LCH friendly snack is born!