For our eighth destination we take a jump back to Europe…more precisely to Greece.
The Greek islands like Santorini, Delphi, Kos, or Mykonos are dream destinations for many of us… not only for history lovers.
Imagine taking a ferry from Piraeus, Athens’ famous harbor. The sun and the dark blue sea, dolphins accompanying you, riding the waves… after a few hours an island emerges on the horizon. Incredibly color intense white and blue houses, windmills, sandy beaches, and soft hills covered with olive trees. May be you can spot some stunning artefacts, like a temple, historic remainders of the ancient Greek kingdom.
After your arrival you just grab a table in one of the little restaurants at the harbor and watch the fishermen coming home with their catch of the day…may be enjoying some Greek wine with appetizers like dolmatakia (stuffed grape leaves), spanakopita (spinach pie), or you try the famous Greek Moussaka.
Moussaka is typically made with eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes, ground beef or lamb, a creamy bechamel sauce and of course feta cheese. It takes quite some time to prepare but it is worth the effort. I personally prefer a lighter, spiced up gluten and dairy free variation, with sweet potatoes and coconut bechamel.
So, join me in preparing this healthy, mouthwatering Moussaka, full of fiber and protein.
For this gluten and dairy free Moussaka, that serves 4 hungry people, you will need:
1 big or 2 small, sweet potatoes cut in rounds about ½ cm in thickness
2 eggplants medium size, cut in slices lengthwise about 1 cm in thickness
3 tablespoons avocado oil
1 pound minced grass-fed beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
5 garlic gloves chopped
3 medium tomatoes chopped
2 teaspoons Himalayan salt
2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ground smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 can full-fat unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 egg yolks
This how to make it:
Preheat your oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit
Grease a casserole dish with some avocado oil
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
Mix the sliced eggplants with 3 tablespoons of avocado oil in a bowl
Place the eggplant on the baking sheet, trying not to overlap
Bake the eggplants in the oven for about 40 minutes
While the eggplants are in the oven, prepare the meat
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat
Add the onions and the garlic and sautée for about 5 minutes
Add the beef and all spices from salt to cumin
Sear until the meat is nicely browned and crumbly, takes about 10 minutes
Add the tomatoes and simmer, without lid, for about 15 minutes until all liquids have evaporated
Stir in the fresh oregano, then set aside
In the meantime, check the eggplants
When the eggplants are nicely browned, remove the baking sheet and set the eggplants aside
Keep the oven on at 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Now its time for the bechamel. Make sure that you have all ingredients ready close by as this sauce needs to be stirred quickly
Melt the coconut oil over medium heat
Add the almond flour and stir with a whisk until fully combined
Stir in the coconut milk and bring to a boil
Reduce heat to medium heat and add the nutmeg and the pepper
Stir for about 5 minutes until you have thickened the sauce
Remove from heat and stir in the egg yolks
Now its time to assemble the moussaka
Place all sweet potato slices on the bottom of the casserole
Top with half of the eggplant slices
Add half of the meat sauce on top of the eggplant
Then add a little less then half of the coconut bechamel and distribute evenly
Then top with the remainder the eggplant slices, adding the meat sauce next
Finish with the coconut bechamel on top
Cover the casserole with a lid or some aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes
Uncover and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until the moussaka is lightly browned on top
Remove from the oven and let cool down for about 10 minutes
Olive Oil – there is nothing like Greek olive oil. Olive trees have been grown in Greece since the 8th millennium BC. Until today the consumption of olive oil per capita is the highest in Greece. You will basically find it in every single meal. Olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat and a staple of the Mediterranean diet which strongly supports heart health. I personally prefer Akropolis Organics Olive oil from Crete. If you like to take a peek into their products, check-out their website under www.acropolisorganics.com
Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, complex starches which are important for gut health as well as in beta-carotene, which is the precursor for Vitamin A. Their growth is encouraged strongly in areas with serious Vitamin A deficiency, for instance in Uganda. They also contain a substantial amount of Manganese and B-Vitamins, which are needed for many biochemical reactions in the body and essential for beating the effects of stress.
Almonds are rich in fiber and plant protein. They contain 35% of the daily recommended value of Vitamin E. Additionally they are notably high in Magnesium.
Egg yolks as well as whole eggs are some of the most nutrient rich and dense foods on earth. Egg yolks specifically are an excellent source of Choline which is important for the building of cell membranes and the functioning of your brain. Additionally, they contain high amounts of Lutein and Zeaxanthin which help protect against macular degeneration and cataracts.
Onions contain Sulphur compounds which are especially important for the liver detoxification process. Additionally, they have a good amount of Vitamin C and several phytonutrients like the antioxidant Quercetin.
Garlic is not only supporting heart health and liver detoxification, but it also is a natural antibiotic which, contrary to a regular anti-biotic, is strengthening the gut flora.
Coconuts and their milk contain so called Medium Chain Triglycerides which support brain health and seem to benefit weight loss despite their high calorie count. Many supplements like Vitamin D are embedded in MCT oils to support absorption.
Unless you are allergic to vegetables of the nightshade family, tomatoes are a powerhouse of antioxidants. They contain Lycopene, a Carotenoid which helps to protect from heart disease and cancer.
Eggplants mainly contain water, fiber and some antioxidants like Lutein, and Zeaxanthin, which both are important for eye health. Eggplants are also part of the nightshade’s family which some people react allergic to.