Tasty Bite!
An edible fall flower, Hollyhock, with stamen removed and filled with: Saffron Risotto, Butternut Squash, topped with Sprouted Black Lentils and Micro Leeks

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bacon!?! Better! Eggplant Bacon!!!!

Eggplant Bacon Wraps with Saute of Cabbage, Onion, Garlic, Mushrooms;
Fresh Yellow Bell Pepper Slices;
Fresh-picked Pea Sprouts in Lettuce Leaves

Used as a condiment, eggplant bacon is a healthy alternative to commercial vegetarian bacon substitutes. This recipe was inspired by Matthew Kenny's book, Everyday Raw. He uses eggplant bacon to make a vegetarian version of a traditional Cobb Salad. We used it for EBLT wraps, salad, egg-salad, sprouted lentils and baked* potato toppings. Yum.

It might sound weird, but his is a standard raw-foodie ingredient to keep on hand for wraps, salad toppings, snacking. There are a lot of recipes out there that are SUPER high in sodium. Hey, that's what's appealing about bacon. It's salty. Eggplant bacon is no different. The saltier, it seems, the better. My Thursday Demo & Dine class and helped work out this recipe to reduce the sodium level considerably from what we saw posted on-line and in various raw food uncook-books. I also like the "smokey" taste we achieved by using smoked paprika powder from Alhabahi Mart in the City River Market, KC, MO. You can use Hungarian paprika with a pinch of chili powder as a substitute.

You can flavor this up different ways. Think: honey, onion, chipotle chili pepper, garlic, mustard, rosemary, lavender...oh, I could go on! Make it really complex, or you just do the quick version to have as a staple hand. It keeps for several weeks refrigerated and freezes well too. This version turned out really good. For a quick version, leave out anything below that says (optional). It will still be good!

Once you get a feel for this, do double batches.

  • 1 large eggplant sliced length-wise (We left the peel on. It turns black, but no bother. It tastes great and the texture is snap-crispy! You can peel it if you are impressing the in-laws or fussy people. It does look better peeled. Use a Cut-Co peeler. Otherwise, you'll be frustrated! I'm not kidding.)
  • 2 TBS of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup of toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup**
  • 2 TBS of namu shoyu
  • 2 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp of smoky paprika (or substitute Hungarian paprika)
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste (We used gourmet peppercorn mix)
  • Juice from 1 orange (optional)
  • Zest from one orange (optional)
  • 1 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin (optional)
  • tamarind paste or concentrate (available at Middle-Eastern Stores) (optional)
  • VERY SMALL pinch of cayenne (optional)
Step 1: Lay sliced eggplant in a glass dish, toss with coarse sea salt (fine ground salt will work too. Avoid processed salts). Let rest for 1-3 hours at room temp or or longer the fridge.

Step 2: Before adding the seasonings, drain and squeeze the liquid from the resting eggplant slices. Also give them a quick cold-water rinse in a stainer. Give the glass dish a quick rinse-out while the eggplant slices are in the stainer. Return the eggplant to the clean glass dish.

Step 3: Blend other ingredients into a "dressing." Adjust the seasoning. Remember, you are going for salty, sweet, smokey. The flavors will intensify with dehydration. Don't over-do the salt or pepper. You can wreck the whole thing with too much Cayenne. When you are happy with the sweet-salty balance, pour over the eggplant slices and allow to marinate for at least 45 minutes. I like to marinate for a whole day in the fridge and turn them a couple of times. (The longer the marinating time, the more intense the flavor.)

Step 4: Dehydrate 24 to 36 hours on screens or tefex sheets at 105 degrees, until crisp. Eat warm or store refrigerated in waxed paper or plastic zip-locks with a paper towel added to the bag. Can be re-heated by placing a few strips in the dehydrator at 1005 degrees, 10 to 20 minutes prior to use, and it stays crisp even when cold.

Another variation: Use honey in place of maple syrup and apple cider or apple-beet juice in place of orange juice. This variation is good with LOTS of fresh-ground pepper. The beet juice makes it looks like bloody bacon when its marinating. Weird! Not to worry, it turns into a nice rosy appearance when dehydrated.

Favorite variation, so far: Use the Vita-mix or a blender to macerate a whole tomato with a pinch of salt, and one heaping TBS of tamarind concentrate. Add to the dressing. If a tomato is not available, organic ketchup can be substituted. (Ah ha! you say, the secrets come to light! Yes, sometimes I go for the quick fix, but not every day and not to compromise on quality. The ketchup actually tastes even more awesome than the tomato, but, it's a compromise all the same. Ketchup is processed and it s not raw.)

*Yes, that's "baked" as in "cooked at a high temperature." Remember, "high-raw" means "a high percentage of raw foods" and some cooked foods. I'm not crazy! I like my potatoes cooked!

**Also, Maple Syrup is a living food. But, it is not raw. Sap from the maple tree is boiled into a syrup. The condensed sugars are pro-biotic and hence, "living". Grade B Maple syrup has a higher nutrient content than grade A, and grade B usually costs less. A to Z Fresh-air Fair, 114 S. 8th Street, in DT Saint Joseph, carries a WONDERFUL grade B maple syrup in quart sized GLASS Bottles! PERFECT! Look for Herrman's Pure Wisconsin Maple Syrup

Frugal Raw Gourmet Tip:
Save extra marinade and use it to flavor:
Veggie patties that you make from the pulp left-over after juicing
Living Seed Crackers (see basic recipe at

Worth repeating, the following article is an excerpt from, explaining whole food plant minerals as our best source of health and vitality. Dehydrating actually gives our system MORE access to these important minerals.

Dried food is the most exciting way to get minerals IN BALANCE. Exciting because it tastes good and it's great to share with friends.
Nothing turns a friend on more than raw fig bars, cashew-date leather, or home-dried apple or banana -- well at least turns them on to raw foods!
You get MORE minerals in dried foods because all the water's gone, which is 70% of the cells. So you get both QUANTITY and BALANCE.
Dehydrating gives you more nutrients for less digestive work, just like juicing. It's so easy to snack on a few fig bars made from living plants in your very own Dehydrator. Compare that to gorging on all those plants if they were still plumped up with water, especially the sprouted grain. It would take forever to chew on the grains, nuts, seeds and figs in a fig bar.
To me, it's not possible to get enough minerals if you don't include dehydrated foods and juices in your life. Double Noble Laureate Dr. Linus Pauling said: "One could trace every sickness, every disease and every ailment to a mineral deficiency" (quoted in "The Power of Plant Derived Minerals" by Elmer Heinrich).
Heinrich also writes: "I have witnessed thousands of people lose weight naturally, and I mean lots of weight, after they began to consume a full spectrum of 70 or more minerals on a daily basis."
When you get the right kitchen equipment -- a Dehydrator, a Sprouter and a Juicer -- and choose ORGANIC plant foods, you will enjoy every mineral you need, more than 70, in perfect harmony.
There's over three thousand known minerals, and who knows how many we need? Only plants hide that secret. Buy your veggies, fruits and Sprouter seeds from mineral-rich organic soils.