In my post Rustic Simplicity, I mentioned how I’ve been de-cluttering. I need to do this—almost every week—because it’s like having a weight lifted off my shoulders and helps me breathe easier, think clearer, prioritize effectively and live better and more balanced. Although I got rid of a lot of stuff, it seems like I barely made a dent. I had to take a break when I went to Quebec. Now, the process continues. My bookshelves are still filled with books; countertops with grains; clothing on chairs; and on my desk are stacks of papers, magazines, notes from recipes I’ve tried (or want to try), posts for the blog…, and the list goes on. Some of it is actually inspiring. From it all, I get new ideas and post photos, notes, magazine clip outs, etc., etc., in my workspace (every room in my home!), but after a while its counterproductive because I have things all over the place and then can’t always find them when I need them! Where is that quote I wrote down on the yellow piece of paper with the list of….? or Where is that recipe I dogeared in…which magazine was it again? 

Funny thing…. I wasn’t always like this. Really. Not too long ago, when I worked as an administrator, I was super organized, detailed oriented, and always on top of things. Now, I look at the hot mess on my counters and desk and sometimes have to laugh. My life has changed considerably in the past few years—marriage, motherhood, staying at home—and it’s still a beautiful life. I’m still very detailed oriented, organized, and still love clean and clutter-free spaces, but now I just have a lot of new things in my space and I’m still learning how to juggle and organize them all more efficiently.

In response to my last post about de-cluttering, a friend responded on my Facebook page with her own mantra to live simply—spend less, own less, live well. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been getting rid of the clutter, reorganizing, and already I’m breathing easier. I try to spend less to own less. I’ve also been wanting to eat more simply—healthy, beautiful, and tasty whole food. Eating well helps me to breathe easier, feel better, think clearer, and live well. How about you? Do you find it a challenge to simplify your life? What do you think about getting rid of “stuff”?

Eggplant with cashew Cream3

Rustically Elegant Eggplant with Za’atar
Recipe adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty

After getting eggplants at the farmers market I was inspired to roast them and make this rustic and elegant dish. It’s supposed to be just a starter, but I served it with a simple green salad and warm pita bread and it turned into a nice, simple and light meal.

Serves 4

2 small eggplants
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs and leaves for garnish
sea salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon za’atar
2 tablespoons bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons mango, diced
zest from one lemon, keep some aside for garnish

3/4 cup cashew cream
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds, roasted
1 tablespoon olive oil, and more to drizzle before serving
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways, cutting straight through the stalk. The stalk is for aesthetics only, don’t eat it. Use a sharp knife to make three or four parallel incisions in the cut side of each eggplant half. Be careful not to cut through to the skin. Repeat at 45-degree angle to get a diamond shaped-pattern.

Place the eggplant halves, cut-side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush them with olive oil. Continue to brush with olive oil until the oil has been absorbed by the flesh. Generously sprinkle with thyme leaves and salt and pepper.

Roast for 30 to 40 minutes. The flesh should be soft and nicely browned. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with lemon zest and allow to cool completely.

Roast pumpkin seeds in oven or in a pan on stovetop just until slightly browned, about 5-7 minutes. Toss with a little olive oil and salt. Set aside.

To make the sauce. Whisk together cashew cream, olive oil, and garlic and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning.

To serve, spread cashew cream sauce over the eggplant halves without covering the stalks. Sprinkle za’atar, pumpkin seeds, lemon zest, bell peppers and thyme leaves. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt (optional) and serve.

12 thoughts on “Spend Less, Own less, Live and Eat Well

  1. Brilliant recipe. It’s sort of a distant cousin to my favorite Ottolenghi recipe. I think I may have to make this tonight. It’s quick and easy. Thank you!

      1. Oh I don’t know if I have a fave. I like them all! I bought all the ingredients tonight but when I finally got home we got pizza. I just couldn’t stand anymore. Too much written then gym then work! Tomorrow!

  2. Lovely post. I love your recipe and also your take on spend less, own less. This is exactly how we live. I find it very easy to do without too much “stuff”, not only is the house free of clutter, so is the mind. 🙂

    1. Thank you Seana! Yes, you’re so right. My mind is clearer when the home is free of unnecessary “stuff”. I recently gave away several boxes of stuff and I’m already looking forward to doing it again! 🙂

  3. I have a hard time believing your living space is full of clutter 🙂
    The eggplant looks wonderful. I’m going to try making cashew cream soon!

    1. Thanks Mandy. Some areas, like my desk, are a work in progress. 🙂 Let me know what you think about the cashew cream. Its so versatile and you can adjust the flavor (sweet or savory) depending on whatever you cooking. And, if you just add more water to it, you end up with cashew milk! Do you have a Vitamix?

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