Only one more week left to the end of my 10 week total transformation challenge, and I’m already planning all of the things I want to eat again: ramen, croissants, beer… but then on the other hand, I’m terrified of blowing out and going back to the way things were before. Night Owl and I actually went out for dinner to one of our favourite restaurants on Wednesday, as even though we haven’t finished our challenge yet, the restaurant was closing this week and we would not have had the opportunity to return post-challenge. We shared the large house-made rye sourdough roll to start and had a glass of red wine each during the meal – and I severely regretted it with the after-effects the next day. It took about a litre of water and a huge salad for lunch to get myself back to feeling some form of normal. Who have I become??
I’ve been talking to some people who have started or are about to start their own transformation challenges, and they are on low fat and low carb diets – which I would severely struggle with! A low carb and fats diet would definitely make you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time – but sustainability would be a struggle. A low carb diet at least allows you pleasures like cream and cheese to indulge in (in moderation!) so my Moussaka is one of Night Owl‘s favourite dishes that I make. Rich, cheesy, filling and delicious – it’s also gluten-free and freezes well.
I’m not saying that a low-carb, high-fats diet will necessarily make you lose weight – as it will also depend on how much exercise you’re squeezing in. We exercise about six days a week for two hours a day most days, and without the fats our bodies would have insufficient energy to fuel us through those gruelling workouts. I was thinking that maybe when this is all done I could scale back on the exercise – but then I wondered what I would do with all that free time, and realised that I would be extraordinarily bored without my workouts! It’s official: I’m hooked on exercise.
It’s a bit of a catch-22: on days you do exercise, as much as it may be difficult to motivate yourself to get started, once you do your body releases endorphins – so you feel great afterwards. But on days you rest and don’t exercise? You don’t feel so great as you obviously don’t get the endorphins.
So it looks like we are going to continue with this low-carb diet and integrate it into our daily lifestyle.
Back to the recipe! I use beef mince, or veal and pork mince rather than lamb as I prefer the flavour and texture. If I have any leftover roast veg like zucchini or pumpkin, I will also chop it up into the meat sauce to amp up the vege count!
To serve six, you will need:
- 2 large eggplant;
- Spray oil for grilling the eggplant;
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil;
- 1 brown onion, finely chopped;
- 500g grass-fed beef mince;
- 3-4 cloves garlic;
- 1/4 cup red wine;
- 6 flat mushrooms, sliced;
- 400g can diced tomatoes;
- 1/2 cup water;
- 1 teaspoon beef stock powder;
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste;
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce;
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg;
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon;
- Ground black pepper;
- 75g butter;
- 1/3 cup plain flour;
- 2 cups milk;
- Salt and ground white pepper;
- 1/3 cup grated pizza cheese.
Cut the eggplants in half from top to bottom, removing the top stem. Slice into half centimetre thick half moons.
Spray a hot grill pan with oil and cook eggplant, in batches, for 2-3 minutes each side or until browned. Transfer to a large plate.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir until softened, then add the garlic and mince. Cook, stirring to break up the mince, for 6-8 minutes or until browned.
Add the the red wine, de-glazing the pan and scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom.
Add the mushrooms, tinned tomatoes, water, stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, nutmeg and cinnamon. If you have any leftover roast veg, also add them in at this point. Season with ground black pepper to taste. Stir and bring to the boil.
Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the sauce is thick and most of the liquid has evaporated.
To make the white sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk into the melted butter. Cook, stirring for a minute or two until bubbling. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium, stirring for five minutes or until the mixture has thickened, Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Grease an eight-cup capacity oven proof dish. Place one third of the eggplant, slightly overlapping, over the base of the dish. Spread half of the meat sauce over the eggplant. Repeat layers, ending with the eggplant. Spread white sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 45 min or until golden. Stand for 15 minutes before digging in!