Shakshuka: eggs in a spicy tomato stew

Shake things up with this spicy Meditterranean (originally from North Africa) dish known as shakshuka! Say it with me, "shahk-SHOO-kah!" I love how simple, healthy, and comforting this dish is. Shakshuka is great because it can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch ,or dinner. 

Tomatoes are one of the foods that I consume daily, probably throughout many meals. I absolutely love them! They are so versatile in the way that they can be prepared and incorporated into different meals raw or cooked in many ways. 

DID YOU KNOW? before I talk about how amazingly nutritious tomatoes are, I just wanted to clarify that tomatoes are botanically fruits, not vegetables. Not that this really matters, because  if you are eating them, that is what counts.  Also, cholesterol IS GOOD (HDL).  It plays many roles in our bodies, with one of it's biggest being that it helps to make hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and estrogen.  It is also important to know that the levels of cholesterol do not necessarily increase because you eat foods-like eggs- with cholesterol. Cue the liver! The liver produces less cholesterol to balance out the amounts you ingest through foo so you CAN consume cholesterol. You just want to make sure to keep it in moderation so that your body has the right amount needed to function properly. 

Ok, onto the nutrition. Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, the red-fat-soluble pigment ( rich in carotenoids which act as antioxidants). Lycopene is best absorbed (bioavailable)  by the body with fat-containing foot and thermal processing. Yes, cooking your tomatoes, like I have done with this dish, increases bioavailability of nutrients. Lycopene decrease inflammation and reduces oxidative stress, which can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. Ok, enough about tomatoes for now, go make this savory, scrumptious, nutritious dish!

Ingredients

Original version of shakshuka with a couple of my own twists added 

  • 1/4 c. diced white onion
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced 
  • 1/4 c. diced bell peppers (I used red)
  • 1-2 tsp. fresh jalapeno (to preferred spiciness) 
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric 
  • Salt and fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)
  • 3 medium ripe heirloom tomatoes (de-cored and chopped into quarters) 
  • 1/2-1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp. harissa (salty + spicy. love it!) 
  • A couple of kalamata olives 
  • Fresh dill (for garnish)

How To 

In a good cast iron skillet (ideal, but not necessary), saute onion, garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno with cumin, turmeric, salt, and pepper. Once cooked, add fresh chopped heirloom tomatoes (the more ripe the better). Add tomato paste and harissa. I also added a few Kalamata olives (not typical in this dish, but it sounded good!)Simmer tomato mixture until it is reduced to a thicker stew. Finally, create small "wells" or indentations spaced out into the stew for the eggs and crack them in! Reduce heat to low. Let eggs cook just a few minutes so that you keep the delicious runny yolk! I topped with dill, but you can do parsley or other fresh herbs as well. 

Health Perks

increased fruit intake

Antioxidants 

Hormone production 

Lycopene & Naringenin ( in the skin of tomatoes; anti-inflammatory)

Vitamin C & K, potassium, folate 

Fiber

Increased water intake (tomatoes are 95% water!)

Anti-inflammatory

Lowers blood pressure (chlorogenic acid in tomatoes)

Anti-viral 

Aids digestion 

Easy and quick

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