Maria Menounos, Thank You!

We should all really be thankful every single day of our lives…

However Thanksgiving week tends to bring out the thankfulness in even the deadliest of hippos

hippo-posing

That being said… I just want to take a minute to appreciate a few things* I feel as though I have been taking for granted lately….

GiGi is thankful

So thank you…

EGGPLANT for… Being a silky smooth “operator” and taking a page from the Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger’s book and morphing into lasagna noodles for all those paleo, gluten-free, keto eating, vegans!

a hugging eggplant

TOMATOES for… Your succulent and plump juiciness (Beyonce is quite envious) that has the capability of making love to any food it touches.

cherry tomatoes

BUTTERNUT SQUASH for… Always being excited to see me…

butternut squash

And… MARIA MENOUNOS for sharing Papou’s Baked Poatoes and Eggplant Casserole with the Food Pervert and I…

And now ALL OF YOU!

 Book to Plate’s Rendition of Maria Menounos’ Eggplant Casserole

Maria Menounos Eggplant Casserole, Every Girl's Guide  to Diet & FitnessHere are the DELICIOUS INGREDIENTS! 

(Tara and I added the above “erect” squash to the mix)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large onions, julienned
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley (we used dried)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 7-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 large eggplants, sliced into 1/8-inch slices
  • 1 large white potatoes, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds (can be omitted, just add more butternut squash)
  • 1 small butternut squash, sliced into 1/8-inch rounds (can be omitted, just add another potato)

How to layer up the love: 

  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add diced onions and saute until caramelized, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add julienned onions, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, and salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add tomato sauce. Cook until sauce is warmed through, about 1 to 2 minutes. Set mixture aside.
  4. Oil the bottom of a deep baking dish. Cover the bottom with slices of eggplant, potatoes and butternut squash, overlapping the slices. Top with half of the onion mixture.
  5. Layer remaining eggplant, potatoes and butternut squash. Cover with the other half of the onion mixture.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown.

GiGi Dubois and Tara Redfield posing with Every GIrl's Guide to Diet and Fitness by Maria Menounos

I also want to thank Maria for inspiring millions to achieve abs that they can do their laundry on (wait, yes, yes I do), taking a few minutes to chat with me the other day about food, fitness and cheesy pick-up lines! 

Me: If you could eat one food without negative ramifications for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Maria: Probably French toast, every different kind! If you’re going to go for it, go for it. I had French toast this morning and when I make French toast, I really go for it. I make my bread fresh, slice it really thick, and I let it soak in the egg mix and I use a little vanilla extract and cinnamon and I poke holes in the bread so the mix soaks all the way through. It’s pretty intense and pretty friggin’ delicious!

Me: You have one of the hottest bodies I have ever seen! Where does that French Toast go?

Maria: I have to say, it does stick! The thing with me is, is that I have such an intense life and schedule, I am moving, literally, at least 18 hours a day. I am burning more calories than I am taking in most of the time. Now there are periods of time when I get a little sedentary and it sticks. When I have those moments I am like ‘okay, everything I am eating, I can see on the side of my thighs!’ and I think the only person who believes it, is my best friend because she knows me and she’s willing to be like ‘yeah, you have cellulite.’ When you eat and you don’t move, it will stick! I am not a robot and you’re talking to someone who was heavier and did have weight gain to deal with before so I am not immune to it but I am really busy all the time so I can very quickly, in about 4 days, when I don’t have time to snack and I am running around so much, everything just smooths out again. I also have incredible muscle memory because I have been working out for so long, it just snaps right back.

Me: What is one of your favorite arm work outs?

Maria: I am really bad with my arms, I just did a little bicep challenge on instagram actually because I really need to start focusing on my upper body strength.

Maria Menounos Working OutMe: What is one of your favorite booty/legs work outs?

Maria: My favorite is hiking, squats and lunges generally or some floor-based pilates.

Me: What is one of your favorite ab work outs?

Maria: My abs, it’s very simple, I have it in my book (The Every Girl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness), I do 50 sit ups; 20 straight up and down, 10 to each side with a leg crossed over the knee, and then another 10 straight up. I am switching it up enough so that I can get through the suffering and the pain.

Me: Speaking of pain and suffering… What has been the funniest, stupidest, or worst pick-up line you’ve ever received?!

Maria: When I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts, it was the all time worst pick up line and I will never forget it. I asked someone what they wanted for their coffee and the guy says ‘cream no sugar, you can just put your finger in it, you’re sweet enough.’ Ew!! Pretty gross.

Me: And finally, you have a lot to be thankful this year, including your boyfriend of 16 years, how to do you keep things spicy? 

Maria: I don’t know if it is super spicy, but we try. We both get so busy and because we work together it is very easy to fall into ruts, it’s definitely always a work in progress because we have been together for so long; you definitely have to work at it especially when you work together because it’s so easy to go into work mode. We love going to the movies, going for hikes, and once we get away from work and we are on a personal level and we get reconnected, everything gets better. We like to go on a week long spa getaway, that’s always helpful. 

Maria, can you please take me on your next spa retreat please? HA!

Well there you have it… Some inside scoop to Maria’s hectic life! 

SO TELL ME…

  • What food would you like to thank and why?
  • Did a grandparent of yours pass down one of their signature recipes to you? If so, what is it?
  • When you hear the word CASSEROLE what do you think?
  • What is your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
  • Do you stuff yourself like a turkey or do you squawk at those who do? 
  • If you could ask Maria one question, what would it be? I will ask her for you next time! 

*Sure I am thankful for salmon, squashes, coconut oil, my elliptical trainer, Ryan Reynolds chiseled abs… But truly, I want to thank each and EVERY ONE of you for visiting me every single week, leaving me comments, sharing my content, watching my videos and all being unique unicorns! I friggin’ love unicorns just as much as I love giraffes, and you know what? Giraffes are probably the closest things to real-life unicorns… Whoa, I just blew my own mind!

 

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  1. At first I thought it said ” Maria Menopause Casserole” In which case, I immediately jumped to open this post–Maybe it will stop the sweats, moodiness, and overall body dehydration. This looks delicious, Maria must have made it with her sweet hands. Happy Thanksgiving to both of you! I’m very grateful for your sense of humor!

  2. Ew… that pick up line is pretty bad! Casseroles always make me think of something really heavy and cheesy but I love how healthy this one looks, and still tasty.

    • Ha Ha Ha – right, I have definitely heard that line before… Alas, no one has ever said it to me, probably cause I look so SOUR! ha haha ha 😉

  3. I have several recipes passed down from my grandparents, but my favorite is my grandma’s Christmas cookies with sour cream and nutmeg. (Sorry,that probably just grossed you out.) I don’t stuff myself at Thanksgiving anymore, but I do love a good piece of pie. I try to balance it out by taking advantage of all the good veggie side dishes and going easy on the bread, stuffing and gravy.

    • Honestly Sarah, I have no idea about those cookies because I have NEVER had sour cream before in my life! They could be flipping amazing for all I know and I will just take your word for it 😉

      And I hear you, on T-Day, it’s all about balance? LOL…. Uhhh right!

    • HA HA! Ohhhh Howard Stern, how you bug me yet also entertain the crap out of me with your “I am going to ask you anything and everything” interview questions!

  4. I would like to thank whole wheat fig bars because I’m addicted to them and my natural food grocer is my enabler. I love Maria M and all that she is/does! I’m also thankful for you Gigi because without you, I would never feel so inadequate in the kitchen and, let’s face it, I need to be knocked down a few pegs :-) Happy Turkey Day!!!!

    • WHAT are these Whole Wheat Fig Bars you speak of?! Actually don’t tell me because I will prob rip them apart and I don’t want you to hate me… Completely – ha ha! 😉

  5. Oh my god, that pick up line she got in Dunkin Donuts! So terrible!
    I would ask Maria, “How was it on the set of One Tree Hill?”
    Yes. I just nerded myself. I was very young at the time I watched it, though.
    I’m sure it’s not just the squash, Gigi! Everyone is happy to see you.. maybe not all as visibly… Maybe.

    • Someone else asked me to ask her about that, but unfortunately I ran out of time…….. I wish I could just shadow her for a few days, and FILM IT of course! 😉

      LMFAO—– MAN DO I HAVE A STORY FOR YOU about people being HAPPY to see me, AH HA HA HA HA! #inappropriatebutthefunniest

  6. Why oh why is she so awesome? and i love how close she is with her family, though to be honest i don’t tbink I could have mine super close by, haha. The best “recipe” handed down isn’t a recipe at all but a cookbook that my mom got from my dad’s grandmother at their wedding that instructs you to go out to the yard, pick your best chicken, wring it neck (all before you go to church so that it has time to bleed of course). There’s a reason my mom doesn’t cook much!

    • OMFG THAT IS THE FUNNIEST BOOK EVER!!! You should do a blog post about it because I would LOVE to see it!!!!!

      And I hear you about family being too close. I am home right now until Sunday and I am already like… Uhhhhhhhhhhhh GAHHH! LOL!

  7. You are too cute! Love the idea of thanking the veggies and fruits we love! I would like to thank pears for being in season during the winter so I have something Nutritioulicious to add to my breakfast every morning!

  8. food we love to thank is coconut oil :)
    Our grandma made the best sugar cookies and she finally gave us the recipe before she past away, plus other family recipes we didn’t know about it

    • Have you ever posted this recipe or is it secret? You can modify it to make it sugar and gluten free because I am sure your grandmother had NO CLUE what that meant when she created it, ha ha!

      And I have to agree – COCONUT OIL, I LOVE YOU. Marry Me?

  9. My favorite thanksgiving dish is sweet potatoes, hands down! Mmmmm, so good! I’m going to try and skip the marshmallow-y goodness this year, but no promises. 😉

  10. Thanks for this comfort food goodness!!

    I guess I’d thank SALMON for paying the ultimate price. I might have to eat meat if not for you!

    As a former wrestler, ask her what her favorite move is in wrestling! The cross-body ride worked well for me :-)

  11. Gee you need to hear my mother moan and groan because her family recipes are going to die with her!
    Mom Me
    Plum pudding – Sugar slop
    Candied cranberries – Florescent alien candy
    Gum drop cake – The place gummy bears go to die
    I’m thankful for air-popped popcorn and Feta cheese … not together … although.

    • I am with you on SUGAR SLOP……. I think cranberry sauce is sugar sauce too! ha ha… And I NEVER EVER UNDERSTOOD those jello/gummy cake things – they scare the crap outta me! And obviously they scare gummy bears too, lol!

  12. That eggplant reminds me of the Saucy Daikon & Huggable Eggplant comics! https://www.facebook.com/SaucyHuggable

    I’d like to think butternut squashes as well! And pumpkins + turkeys, because so many of them lose their lives at this time of the year. 😡

    I usually think of green bean casserole when I hear ‘casserole,’ but I love this recipe so much more! <3

    • OMG that comic – WHAT?!?!? Never heard of it before in my life!

      And I too think about GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE too, and it sounds awful! LOL

  13. Actually looks pretty good and I am not a fan of egglant per se , or well vegetables and most casseroles but would be willing to give this one a try,

  14. oh maria maria… how i love you. and youre love for french toast. Can we not make that a free calorie and allergy food?

    I’ll settle for this casserole though, because you made it!

  15. I am thankful for PB2, Quinoa, Kale, and Chicken :) As for me, I STUFF MYSELF LIKE A TURKEY! <3 THIS LOOKS SO TASTY, maybe I can add chicken <3

    • Yes! You could totally add chicken or turkey or white fish…. 😀 😀 😀 And girl, I stuff myself like a TURKEY TOO!!!! There are never left overs because of me !!

  16. Cookies & bread – so thankful for both cause they make me happy! :)

    Casserole – I think of green bean casserole & macaroni – I wish I had gotten my nan’s recipe – it was so good!

    I do love me some turkey & sweet potatoes so Thanksgiving is perfect for me! :)

    Have a wonderful one GiGi!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. I really enjoyed reading your post! Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party! I’ve pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board.

  18. I don’t make eggplant nearly enough. I’m so excited to try this out :)

    Recipes from grandparents are like gold to me haha. My mom has a recipe book from about twenty five years ago with all sorts of recipes from my grandma (her mom). Whenever I visit, I try to copy pages :) But before my grandpa broke his computer, I would probably call my grandma once a week to talk food. Cooking is kind of a family obsession, I guess hah 😉

    I don’t stuff myself at Thanksgiving because it doesn’t exist here in the Netherlands. I cook my own meal and try not to eat more than I can handle. Or rather, I try not to stuff myself.

    • FOOD IS A HUGE FAMILY OBSESSION of mine too!!!!!!! My dad literally will wake me up in the morning asking me what I want for dinner. All we did today (I am at home right now) is go to Whole Foods, ha ha ha haa ha ha! Oh my geeze! We have another thing in common 😉

  19. I would like to thank all nut butters because they are delicious and nutritious! Many recipes have been passed down. Fave TDay dish… STUFFING! I think of condensed soup when I think of casserole, haha. I stuff myself like a turkey bc, well, I want to. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, as I am so very thankful for my family and friends and of course all the food. And thank YOU for always being hilarious AND informative :)

  20. “Giraffes are probably the closest things to real-life unicorns” — love that thought! And love the recipe, and the video. Although I’m thinking of squash in a whole new way now. 😉 Happy Thanksgiving!

  21. I am thankful for chocolate which i hope I am still allowed to eat when I go vegan. Yes i am taking the plunge so chocolate i am thankful for you and I love you.

  22. Sorry for being so late, been working a lot. Recipe looks great!!! oh no Tara no perverted add on LOL Granma left me with one favorite, roasted leg of lamb with mashed turnips and gravy. I haven’t had much to eat for almost three day’s so everything sound great. I wish Maria would get you on a hot new TV program so an finally say ” hey GiGi’s on tonight” I wish you and your family a great holiday and many helpings of delicious food. Tara you to have a safe and extra dirty thanksgiving full of no regrets treats. :) :)

    • You NEVER have to apologize for anything, EVER – you know that!

      AND TRUST ME ROCCO – soon enough, soon enough you will be able to say that 😉

      HAPPY thanksgiving!!!!!!!!

  23. Oh, this recipe looks phenomenal!!! Sadly, I’ve never even tried Eggplant, but I want to! I will have to make your recipe now. 😉 I’m very thankful for avocados and chocolate. Love, love, love. I hope you have a fabulous Thanksgiving!

  24. That dish looks so good and I recall working at a fast food joint and the men rather boys seem to love a girl in a fast food uniform. I want to show thanks for fried chicken (trifling I know) and my grandmother hasn’t handed down anything yet but I always think of corn casserole which I am making tomorrow – YUMMY! #wowlinkup

    • Ha Ha! Stupid French Toast! :( Maybe in the near future they will make a calorie-free French Toast…. Actually that reminds me of video I will be posting next week 😉

  25. First of all, this recipe looks awesome! I love eggplant parm but of course it’s not the lightest dish in the world 😉 I love Maria’s outlook on health and fitness — she’s always seemed really down-to-earth and realistic about hard work (fitness) alongside great eats.

  26. Yeah her body is on point – I’d say any casserole with cheese and potatoes make me happy. They’re my fave 😛 Don’t even say sweet potatoes because no. Ok I’m still processing yesterdays food coma so I’m gong to nap it off now. :) Hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday GiGi! -Iva

  27. Be prepared for an epic unicorn comment because you’re spot on with many of your questions today. But first off: we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here but I’m thankful I can count on you making me laugh every week. Real life is serious enough already [TGIF!!!].
    Onto the questions: I’d obviously like to thank kabocha for being downright delicious. And almond butter for the more serious reason that it was some kind of lifesaver during the darkest days of my ED. My mum once told me she was glad I at least ate some kind of calorie-dense and fat-containing food back then. My intake would have been quite a bit lower elsewise. Okay, enough seriousness.
    Casseroles hold a very special place in my heart [and stomach as any reader of my blog can tell]. What can I say? They remind me of my mum’s during my childhood. Especially when potatoes and/or eggplant are involved. Needless to say – humor me for saying it anyway: Maria’s recipe is right up my alley.
    To end this novel : I hope you had an awesome Thanksgiving, GiGi!

    • It sounds like my rendition of Maria’s recipe is CERTAINLY up your alley! I really cannot wait for you to try it and let me know what you think :) I love when foods bring back memories – for me it’s definitely making breads and donuts with my dad (when I could eat them) and plain spaghetti with butter! ha ah.

      And girl, you’re seriously so sweet – I am glad I can put a smile on your face… My brain just works is mysterious ways to make some people laugh and others… Walk away! LOL!

      And I need to buy me some Kambocha squash tomorrow – switch it up from the butternut! 😉

  28. Oh my goodess-you are cracking me up over here! I am grateful for eggplant too, but I don’t cook it that often anymore, because my hubby is allergic to it. I’m also grateful for mangoes, pita bread, hummus, kale, so many things!!!! My hubby is heading out of town again soon so I will definitely be trying to make this recipe soon!

    • Aw man, what happens to your husband when he has an eggplant reaction? I mean, I guess there are worse things you could be allergic to (like EVERYTHING – like me, ha ha ha)… And don’t you just love when your husband goes away… You can have a sexy rendezvous with eggplant 😉

  29. I love that y’all show a couple of versions – I’m probably more inclined to go with Tara’s version and use potatoes. I’m not sure I’ve ever had eggplant:)
    I will have to just try it!!!

  30. If eggplant has Power Rangers powers, I’m saying Pie might have mind-control powers. At least over me…as made notable by my last article title “Eat all the Pie”. Oh, and hush puppies! My Southern girl becomes a ravenous starving beast who will fight to the death for hush puppies if they’re around. SO GOOD!

  31. Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays Party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! :) I can’t wait to see what you share next time!
    -Cindy

  32. Totally childish, but I keep chuckling at that eggplant photo. Looks like it wants a hug! Thanks for sharing. I will DREAM of trying this as the Hubs can’t eat eggplant :( Makes him ill. I bloomin love the stuff….

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