Food, and lots of it, is often the focal point of every gathering with my Greek family. While certainly some Greek dishes make up a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet, Greek food isn’t exactly known for being “light.” Many of the culture’s traditional main dishes, cheeses, and sauces can definitely take a toll on the waistline if you aren’t careful. Think: buttery phyllo dough and gyros.
As much as I like to indulge in multiple helpings of spanakopita and put feta on everything, when it comes to everyday eating, I try to “healthify” the ingredients as much as I can. I recently experimented with a tried and true family favorite, moussaka. A traditional moussaka is made with sliced eggplant, potatoes, and ground beef before topping with a rich sauce.
In this version, the potatoes are eliminated and bison is used instead of lamb or ground beef for a leaner meat. The butter, white flour, and regular milk are replaced with coconut oil, almond meal, and coconut milk. Finally, the eggplant is baked instead of fried. If you are worried about the end product tasting nutty or like coconut, it doesn’t!
Lightened Up Moussaka
Makes 6 servings
For the casserole…
- 1.5 pounds eggplant
- 1.5 pounds ground bison
- 3 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil + extra for baking
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the sauce…
- 1/8 cup coconut oil
- 1/4 cup almond meal or flour (whole wheat flour could be used for nut allergies)
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
- Preheat oven to Thinly slice eggplant and sprinkle with salt. Place on paper towels and cover with a second layer of paper towels to remove excess moisture. Let sit for about 20 minutes.
- In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the meat and stir until brown. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, cinnamon, wine, salt and pepper, and half a cup of water. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until mixture is dry.
- Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange eggplant slices in a flat layer. Season with pepper and drizzle with olive oil, then cook in the oven at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until tender.
- To make the sauce: Melt the coconut oil. Stir in the almond meal or flour and cook for two minutes over low heat. Remove from heat and gradually stir in the milk and yogurt. Return to heat, then stir until thick and smooth, then simmer five minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a baking dish, arrange the following: Layer of eggplant slices, half biston mixture, eggplant, remaining bison, remaining eggplant. Pour the sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees F or until brown.
Hope you guys love it!
What’s your favorite traditional Greek dish? How do you think you could healthify it?