Tag Archives: Chocolate

No-Bake Cookies

My relationship with food has become very complicated during this pregnancy.  There are so many “guidelines” about what and when and how much pregnant women are supposed (or not supposed) to eat.  And don’t forget the cocktail of vitamins.

For instance:

  • I am supposed to get about 567% of the average person’s daily amount of iron and calcium.  But for optimal absorption, iron and calcium should not be consumed (whether in food or vitamin form) within two hours of each other.  So, if my breakfast cereal is fortified with iron but I eat it with calcium-rich milk, is it even worth counting the amounts of minerals in that meal?  And my three-times-a-day iron supplements, plus the regular prenatal vitamin…when do I take those?
  • Also, the midwife wants me eating 90 grams of protein each day.  Seriously?  Maybe I should consider this my free ticket to eat steak every day, but as much as I try to cram in dairy products and eggs and tofu and beans and reasonable (affordable) amounts of meat, I doubt I am anywhere close to 90 grams of protein.
  • Can we also discuss the fact that most protein-rich foods are also very high in calories?  Pregnant women only need 300 additional calories every day.
  • Don’t forget too the commandment to eat at least six servings of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Given these imperatives, it must be seen as a divine miracle that humanity has survived as long as we have without a mass proliferation of useless limbs, third eyes and missing organs.  And while I really do want a healthy baby and have worked very hard to follow these eating guidelines as much as possible, there comes the occasional moment when I just have to say, “Screw it.”  And then I make these no-bake cookies.  But only a half batch, because there’s no need to go overboard in indulgence 🙂

That's all I left for Hungry Husband.

No-Bake Cookies (makes about 3 dozen)

  • 1 3/4 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. butter
  • 4 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c. crunchy peanut butter
  • 3 c. quick-cooking oats
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 90 seconds, stirring.  (These 90 seconds are really the key…if you cook this for too little time, the cookies will not set, and if you overcook it they will be dry and crumbly.)
Remove the pan from heat, and stir in the peanut butter, oats, and vanilla until thoroughly mixed.
Drop by spoonful onto waxed paper (or, if you are like me and don’t have waxed paper, a regular plate/platter will do just fine) and let cool.
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EGGPLANT WITH SWEET-AND-SOUR TOMATO SAUCE

I got some very distressing news today, courtesy of Agrigirl‘s latest post on her family’s revolt against eating eggplant.  Apparently, eggplant is very low in nutritional value.  I have loved eggplant for a long, long time and always felt proud of having it in my regular vegetable routine, especially now that I’ve found so many wonderful Middle Eastern ways to prepare it, so it was very sad to me that it may just be the purple equivalent of iceberg lettuce. I’m still going to eat it, though…

Coupled with this recent article from The New York Times, which has got me in a tizzy about whether or not I eat enough vegetables, today was one of those throw-my-hands-in-the-air-and-say-WHO-CARES sorts of moments.  Trying to stay on top of all the pronouncements regarding healthy eating is enough to make me think about giving up food entirely.  Fortunately I had a chocolate bar in the refrigerator, which brought me back to my senses.

EGGPLANT WITH SWEET-AND-SOUR TOMATO SAUCE

  • 1 large eggplant or 2 medium (about 1 kilo/2lbs. total), sliced about 1/2″ thick
  • Olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, mashed
  • 1 1/2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I used pre-peeled and chopped, because my skin has developed a sensitivity to tomato juice recently)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar (the original recipe called for red wine or white wine vinegar, but I used plain white and it seemed fine to me)
  • 2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
  • Chili pepper to taste (I used one fresh green chili pepper, very finely diced)
  • 1/3 c. parsley (I didn’t use this because I was not in a parsley mood)
  • Salt and pepper

  1. Broil your eggplant in a 400F oven, turning once so that it browns on both sides.  When done, remove from the oven and let cool.
  2. In a large pan, fry the garlic (and if you’re using fresh diced pepper, put it in now as well) until aromatic.  Add the remaining ingredients (except parsley) and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to a thick sauce.  Turn off heat, adjust seasonings, and let cool.
  3. To serve, pour the sauce over the eggplant and sprinkle with parsley.

BULGUR WITH CHEESE AND EGGPLANT

Look! Pictures!

One thing about temporary living is that it makes me hesitant to buy much in the way of food products that are not highly multifunctional or will not be consumed fairly quickly.  I hate throwing things away; when we left The Oldest City in the World (our previous residence) and came to Hillside (our current city), I smuggled along over a dozen plastic baggies of spices, a plastic tub of red lentils, and two partially-used bags of bulgur and semolina.  Oh, and the obvious: tea, coffee, and sugar, because in what are already stressful situations like moving, it is best not to upset the body with unnecessary caffeine withdrawals.

Thus, meals that require few ingredients while still meeting my Ideals of Eating (another post for another day) are key.  This lovely vegetarian dish fits the bill perfectly and is easy to make in large batches.  Below is the recipe, as found in The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Ms. Roden, with notes about my modifications and suggestions in italics.

Bulgur with Cheese and Eggplants

  • 1 eggplant, weighing about ¾ pound, cut into 1-inch cubes (If you wanted to up the vegetable intake, I think zucchini and green or red peppers would be nice additions)
  • Salt
  • 1 ½ large onions, sliced
  • Vegetable oil
  • 2 cups coarse-ground bulgur, washed in cold water and drained
  • 3 ¼ cups boiling water or chicken stock
  • Pepper
  • 7-9 ounces halumi cheese, cubed (I couldn’t find halumi, so used kashkaval instead; I think mozzarella would also work fine)

Sprinkle the eggplant generously with salt and leave in a colander for ½ hour to degorge its juices.  Then rinse, and dry with paper towels.

Fry the onions in 2 tablespoons oil till golden.  Add the bulgur and stir.  Pour in the boiling water or stock, season with salt and pepper (I also added about 2 teaspoons allspice), and stir well, then cook on very low heat, with the lid on, for about 15 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the bulgur is tender.

Fry the cubed eggplant briefly in hot oil, turning the cubes so that they are lightly colored all over.  Lift out, and drain on paper towels.   (I am terrible at frying food—see the picture below for what happened to half my eggplant cubes.  If you had a functional oven and didn’t mind the heat, I think roasting would be a satisfactory substitution for cooking the eggplant and whatever other vegetables you might choose to include.)

Stir 4 tablespoons oil into the bulgur.  (I didn’t add any extra oil; I think it would make the dish too greasy.) Add the cheese and the eggplant and gently fold them in.  Heat through with the lid on until the cheese is soft.  Serve very hot.

For dessert?  Something cold, of course, and bonus points if it comes in groovy flowered glasses 🙂

That's a Chocolate Banana Milkshake, if you can't tell.