Today, I decided to make the trek. I get off early from work on Tuesdays and I miraculously didn't have a doctor's appointment to get to this afternoon. So, I headed over to Whole Foods, giddy like a kid on the way to Disney World. This Whole Foods is brand new and gorgeous. The produce is fresh and organized beautifully. I wanted to take pictures, but I didn't want to look totally insane. The nuts, seeds, grains, alternative fours, dried fruit, and granola were all artfully displayed in the bulk section of the store. This made it simple to find my ingredients. I bought quinoa and green sprouted lentils for the first time, both from the bulk section. All of the vegan options and strange ingredients I have seen in my research of recipes lined the isles. I didn't have to ask for help finding a single thing. It was a nutrition freak's heaven. It was pretty cool to see the store through new (healthy) eyes. I felt good and a little bit like a healthy food snob as I made my way through the store. Whole Foods also has a juice bar, so I decided to give it another shot SANS BEETS (see previous posts for my explanation of my total and utter disdain for beets). I ordered a "Garden of Eden" juice made with tomatoes, celery, red peppers, lemon, spinach, carrots, and cayenne pepper. I have to say that it was a MUCH better experience than my first juicing disaster. This one was yummy, filling, and even better than V-8 juice (one of my faves). I liked it a lot and can definitely see that I will be treating myself to this again in the future.
I made my way through the store and was then smacked in the face with the glorious (and evil) prepared foods section. There was cheese everywhere ... with samples just daring me to eat them. There were hot bars, cold bars, soup bars, a coffee bar, and even a gelato stand all begging me to just give them a chance. There were counters full of sushi, giant sandwiches, and platters full of delicious favorites like chicken curry salad, twice baked potatoes, and lasagna. I won't lie. There was definitely some temptation there. Please don't get me wrong either. There are a ton of healthy choices available and delicious treats made with whole unprocessed food, which is pretty awesome (including the ones I mentioned). But, having pretty much given up dairy, eggs, meat, etc. lately ... it was like a minefield. The cool thing is that Whole Foods has started a new program called "Health Starts Here". It seems to be in line with the messages from Forks Over Knives and Dr. Fuhrman's plant-based living. Throughout the store, products are marked with the "Health Starts Here" logo, making it very easy to make good choices. Even more awesome? They had prepared foods with the logo too! I bought some Spicy Lentil Salad and Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado Quinoa. I also picked up a container of spicy buffalo tofu chunks and another of Glazed Tofu with Shiitake Mushrooms and Green Onions. YUMMY. I tasted them all and they are delish. Oh yeah, I also purchased some lentil and cashew "burgers", but I have not had a chance to try them yet. So, all in all, it was definitely worth the trip to Whole Foods today. I love it just as much as before, but for all the right reasons now. Whole Foods makes it easy to live a healthy lifestyle and is an inspirational place to shop. I highly recommend giving yours a whirl if you have not been yet.
So, you must be wondering what was for dinner tonight. Let me tell you! I made THE most amazing Baked Eggplant Pomodoro. It is a vegan recipe I adapted from the Vegan Meals Website. Not only does this meal taste like something you would get from a fancy gourmet Italian restaurant, it was also fun to make and beautiful to serve. I would make this in a heartbeat if I had guests to impress. It is seriously so good... a five star recipe in my book... some might even call it Scrum-diddly-umpcious. ;)
Vegan Baked Eggplant Pomodoro
- 1 cup Italian style bread crumbs (I used Glutino brand gluten-free vegan bread crumbs)
- 1/4 cup dijon mustard
- 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 1 eggplant, sliced into 1/2" rounds
- 4-5 cloves fresh garlic, pressed through garlic press or minced
- 1 cup reduced fat Vegenaise (or other vegan mayonnaise)
- 2 teaspoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves (roughly chopped)
- garlic salt and cracked back pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line baking sheet with foil. Lightly brush foil with 1 teaspoon of olive oil.
3. Mix the mustard and the Vegenaise in a small bowl.
4. Pour bread crumbs into a small bowl.
5. Cover each side of the eggplant rounds with the mustard mixture and then the breadcrumbs (basically by dropping and flipping them in each bowl).
6. Place the eggplant rounds on the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
7. After 25 minutes, take the eggplant rounds out of the oven and flip them so that they can brown on the other side. Bake for another 20-30 minutes (until golden brown).
8. While the eggplant rounds are finishing up, heat the other teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, garlic salt, and cracked black pepper to the pan and sauté until tomatoes are soft and mixture is warm.
9. Remove eggplant rounds from oven and remove from baking sheet. I stacked 3-4 on a plate and topped them with the pomodoro mixture. Magnifique.
10. Serve and enjoy!!!
Love love loved it. I would just like to remind you that I was eating hot pockets, take out, and mac and cheese from the box all of about 6 WEEKS ago. Now, I am preparing things like this. I say this to remind you that you do not have to be a chef or even of the cooking inclined to start doing this. You just have to try. You have to decide that it is worth it ... that you are worth it ... and jump in. Come on ... you know you want to! It feels pretty damn good once you get your feet wet. :)
Well, that is all from me today, Gnawers. I have a lot of yummy looking recipes to come this week! I can't wait to share them with you! I hope that you have all had wonderful days and that you are feeling healthy and well this evening. Just remember ... regardless of the path you have taken, you are always one step further on your journey than you were the day before. Until next time, take care of you!!!