After spending a month of pure gluttony in France, eating everything from unlimited loaves of crusty French bread to rounds of fresh goat cheese, I am back home and facing the consequences. I refuse to get on the scale, but I know by the utter snugness of my pants and my inability to button certain shirts that the pounds are ever present. I need to do some damage control before the holidays and my eldest daughter’s wedding arrives.
I knew that this was my fate before leaving France, so I thought ahead and purchased a French food magazine with loads of vegetable recipes that were rapide and facile-quick and easy. Right up my alley. I decided that instead of bringing the delicious tradition of eating cheese and bread home with me, I would bring home another and more healthy French tradition…eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. The French use a huge variety in their cooking and the presentation is always beautiful. The health benefits are just as important as maintaining a healthy weight.
I recently read an article in my husband’s Men’s Journal (always good to see what the opposite sex talks about!) that recommends we should aim to have “30-40 different plants a week “ in our diet with 8-10 servings each day. Not only are they loaded with nutrients, but for they are needed for our “gut health” and our colon. I’m not sure if most of us have access to that many variations a week and I know that I don’t have that many enticing ways of preparing them, that’s for sure. But I am up to this fun challenge.
I decided my first dish would be a colorful fall dish that would be exciting and delicious to eat. I decided on beets. These amazing and deep vibrant red veggies are loaded with health benefits! I found the perfect beet recipe: petits flans à la betterave et aux champignons-little beet flans with mushrooms. The recipe was in French, of course, so I loosely translated it to the best of my ability and made some adjustments to fit my new diet and tastes.
I swapped out the fattening and elusive crème fraiche (about 11 fat grams) for mascarpone cheese (about 6 fat grams). Also, rather than using 4 whole eggs, I used 2 whole eggs and 2 egg whites. I also added some fragrant thyme to my sauté. The result was a flavorful and attractive dish that was fun to prepare as well as to present to my family. The beets weren’t overpowering in taste and took on a slightly sweet flavor when combined with the cheese. The mushrooms and onions on top added a nice nutty and earthy flavor. Yum! Success! I felt très French!
The flans were my appetizer and I followed it up with the greens from the beets (be sure to use these-they’re delicious!) and rainbow chard sautéed with olive oil and garlic and some seasoned Mahi-Mahi. This meal puts me at 6 vegetables (garlic counts!) with only 34 more to go for the week…
- 3 cups diced beets
- 1½ cups sliced mushrooms (I used crimini)
- 1 sliced white onion
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 egg whites
- 4 Tablespoons of mascarpone cheese
- 1½ Tablespoons of butter (no substitute here!)
- salt and pepper
- fresh parsley,2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Cut beets into 1" cubes and boil for about 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Strain.
- Place beets into a food processor and puree.
- In a separate bowl, mix eggs and egg whites with the mascarpone cheese. Add to the beets in the food processor and puree. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare 4 ramekins with canola oil spray.
- Pour beet mixture evenly into the ramekins and place in a bain-marie- place in a pan and pour water into the pan so that the ramekins have water all around them.
- Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until the flan is set up. Let sit for 5 minutes after removing from oven.
- Meanwhile,slice cleaned mushrooms and onion into thin strips.
- Saute in the butter for about 5 minutes. Add fresh thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.
- Carefully remove from ramekins by loosening the edges with a knife. Place on individual plates and top with the mushrooms and onions and a sprig of parsley. Voila!