Like many families, Donna Crous’ family all have different food preferences and diets. Her and her husband are Paleo, one daughter vegan and the other follows a low carb keto diet. This meant that they would often sit down to a meal where each had their own plate of food. She wanted to create meals that they would all be able to enjoy together, and so over the years she developed recipes that fit within everyone’s dietary preferences.
That collection of recipes is the inspiration and the basis of her cookbook – A Healthier Family for Life. It’s a nod to the recipes her family loves and the beautiful fresh produce that forms a basis of their diets. It’s for parents who want to make delicious and exciting healthy dishes for their families. It’s for anyone who cares where the food they eat comes from and how it is prepared; and anyone who wants to eat better, but not sacrifice flavor.
In an interview with her, Donna told me that she hopes that her cookbook – A Healthier Family for Life shows those who are breaking out and venturing into a healthier lifestyle that healthier food is exciting and tasty. That they don’t have to give up their favorite foods, but rather learn to make them healthier.
A quick look at her cookbook and it’s clear she’s done just that. A food photographer by trade, each recipe is visually appetizing – jumping off the page at you, enticing you to try them out. There’s also plenty variety to choose from whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, low-carb or paleo. Every dish is gluten free including a delicious dessert section (I’ve got my eye on her sticky date pudding which she assures me is a hit with everyone). Her recipes don’t just look good, they taste good too. It’s the perfect recipe book if you’re embarking on a healthier diet or want to be able to whip up delicious failsafe dishes for friends and family with dietary restrictions.
The recipe I’m sharing is her recipe for Moussaka with Cauliflower Bechamel Sauce. It has a non-fuss ingredient list, comes together easily and was have-seconds, lick the plate clean good. She uses cauliflower for the bechamel sauce – which was not only delicious but smartly conceals an entire cauliflower head in the dish. It provides a delicious creamy sauce to the meat and eggplant, perfect for those who keep Kosher and don’t mix meat and dairy. It’s also a lot more nutritious than a traditional white sauce.
Moussaka with Cauliflower and Bechamel Sauce
- 2 firm aubergines
- avocado or coconut oil for frying
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 500 grams lamb or beef mince
- pink salt
- 250 ml tomato puree
- 1-2 tablespoon harrisa paste
Cauliflower Bechamel Sauce
- 800 grams cauliflower cut into florets
- 200 ml coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon herbal salt (Herbamare) to taste
- 45 grams nutritional yeast flakes
- Slice the larger aubergine into 1cm thick discs. Slice the smaller aubergine into 2mm thick discs.
- Soak the aubergines in two seperate bowls of lightly salted water for 10 minutes.
- Remove and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Heat a little oil in a shallow frying pan over a high heat. Fry the thicker slices of aubergine on both sides, adding more oil if needed. Then transfer to a plate.
- Add more oil and fry the thinner aubergine slices. When ready, keep the seperate from the larger ones (this will make sense when assembling).
- Add a little more oil and fry the chopped onion for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, stir well then add the meat.
- Lightly brown the meat, and add 1/2 teaspoon pink salt, the tomato puree and harissa paste, mixing well.
- Cook over high heat for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer gently while you get on with prepping the sauce. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180°C.
- To make the cauliflower bechamel sauce, fill a saucepan halfway with boiling water, and add a pinch of salt and the cauliflower florets. Boil until very soft. Strain well and (either with an immersion blender or transferring to a jug blender) blend with the coconut cream, herbal salt and half of the nutritional yeast flakes until very very smooth.
- Lay the thick slices of aubergine over the base of an ovenproof dish, then add the meat and top with the cauliflower sauce (one layer of each is perfect). Sprinkle the remaining nutritional yeast flakes over the cauliflower sauce. Top with the thin aubergine slices and bake for 30 minutes.
- Serve with a big green salad.
Recipe is reprinted with permission from the publisher. Images are by Nutreats Food Photography Studio.