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Carina in print – January Scotsman Column

Grains of truth

Cutting down on sugars and carbs is easier than cutting out –and more realistic in the long-term, says Carina Contini of The Scottish Cafe & Restaurant

I recently managed a few months without eating grains. My findings, as a self-diagnosed carbohydrate addict, was that without the grains I felt great. I’ve never been good at dieting. Discipline is my best diet, though anyone who knows me will see that I struggle hugely with any type of moderation. However, my grain free period was based on doctor’s orders and I really benefited
from the change in habit. The results were tangible; more energy, calmer, and general all round health and well being. The bigger benefit has been a happier family and our team at work are happier too as I’ve been less stressed. Win, win.

My issue with other sorts of diets is they don’t set the tone of how they will make you feel – the emotional and functional element of healthy eating. The promise is always a thinner waistline, smaller posterior and those jeans will look fantastic, but that shouldn’t be the point. Yes you’ll feel better if you look better but food that makes you feel mentally good is the secret to any recipe for a happy life. Cutting down (I can’t cut out) the sugars, eliminating processed foods such as ready meals, biscuits and snack bars, and supplementing with fresh food is the only way to go. At
home, this is a given if you cook from scratch. Eating out unfortunately can be confusing as many restaurants are very clever at marketing fresh food but don’t actually deliver it. I can promise you that your independent restaurants do.

Melanzane in carrozza
Serves two

This can be cooked without the breadcrumbs but for a delicious crunch the crumb adds an extra crispy texture. Perfect to go with the below sunshine salad for a really fresh, healthy supper.

8 slices violet aubergine, about 8mm thick
1 whole mozzarella di bufala, sliced to about 10mm thick and left to drain in a colander to remove any excess water
4 sundried tomatoes in oil, sliced
panko breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten and seasoned with salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp pesto
a handful of olives, to serve
peashoots, to decorate

1. Brush the aubergines with a little oil and bake in the oven at 200C/Gas Mark 6 until soft. This should take around 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
2. Make a sandwich using the aubergine filled with the mozzarella and a few slices of the sundried tomatoes, then season with a little salt. You can pop this into the fridge
to chill which will make them easier to handle.
3. Dip the sandwich into the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Lightly fry in the olive oil until golden and crisp.
4. Serve with a little homemade pesto for extra flavour and a handful of olives. Garnish with peashoots.