Mezze is an appetizer platter of finger foods ranging from olives and artichoke hearts to raw, pickled and roasted vegetables. It may include dips, flatbreads and sliced meats or cheeses. The selection is entirely up to you and can be purchased ready-made or prepared in your kitchen. For paleo or keto adherents, be sure to include non-bean, non-grain options with less starchy vegetables. Hummus is a common dip found on a mezze platter; however, beans aren’t allowed on either the paleo or keto diet. This classic recipe is a perfect substitute on an appetizer platter, served with raw and cooked vegetables. It’s also a delicious sandwich spread.
Paleo & Keto: What’s the Difference?
Both the paleo diet and the keto diet recommend avoiding all grains, beans, sugar, most dairy and processed foods. They differ in carbohydrate limits and the amount of fat. A person may follow either diet on a doctor’s recommendation to address specific health challenges, to reduce inflammation or to lose weight.
The paleo diet allows all vegetables (except corn, which is a grain), meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, fruits, most oil/fat including butter and/or ghee and some sweeteners in moderation, including raw honey, 100% pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, stevia and some natural zero-calorie sweeteners, such as monk fruit (a sweet Chinese herb) and erythritol.
The keto diet is more restrictive; it limits vegetables to non-starchy items that are lower in carbohydrates. A general rule: If it grows above the ground, it’s probably allowed on the keto diet. This includes asparagus, avocado, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, lettuces, leafy greens, tomatoes, some bell peppers and zucchini. Keto advocates suggest avoiding fruit, except a limited intake of berries, and limiting vegetables that grow underground. Beets, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and some above-ground starchy vegetables, such as winter squash and acorn squash, are allowed in moderation.
For more information, consult a registered dietitian who specializes in these diets.
Contributing chef Sueson Vess is a food coach, cooking instructor and author of Special Eats, a gluten-free, dairy-free cookbook.Yields 4 cups
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 pounds eggplant, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
- 3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) or seed butter
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1Preheat oven to 400°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2Brush 2 tablespoons olive oil on eggplant slices and arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheets.
3Place in preheated oven and roast 10 to 15 minutes, turning once, until softened and slightly browned. Remove skin and place in a colander to drain.
4In a food processor or blender, puree cooked eggplant with tahini, shallot, lemon juice, remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, turmeric, salt, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
5Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Cauliflower Baba Ganoush
PREP: 15 minutes
COOK: 15 minutes
MAKES 4 CUPS
To mix things up, try this low-starch, high-fiber baba ganoush made with cauliflower. Serve it as a dip with raw or cooked veggies or use as a sandwich spread.
1 whole cauliflower, white or yellow
3 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste) or seed butter
2 tablespoons minced shallot (1 small shallot)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. In a steamer basket over boiling water (with cauliflower NOT touching water), steam cauliflower until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let drain.
2. Place cauliflower in a food processor or large blender. Add tahini, shallot, olive oil, turmeric, cumin, sea salt, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper and process until smooth.
3. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Each tablespoon contains 11 calories, 1g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 22mg sodium, 0g carbohydrate, 0g fiber, 0g sugars, 0g protein, 0Est GL.