It’s fall at the farmer’s market.
Time to fall in love with eggplant again.
Eggplants are at their best from August through October when they are in season.
Different varieties of eggplant vary slightly in appearance, taste and texture, but most
eggplant boast a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture.
For centuries, eggplants have been a dietary staple in many parts of the world.
“The eggplant touched far flung shores during its centuries-long sojourn.
From China, India, Italy, France, the Middle East to Persia, Russia,
the United States, Greece, and Turkey–everywhere eggplants traveled,
they became infused into the regional cuisines.”
When I was in Turkey I fell in love with their beloved regional dish, Imam Bayildi, an onion and tomato
stuffed eggplant seasoned with garlic and olive oil.
I was also mad about “the poor man’s caviar” –a roasted, mashed eggplant seasoned with onions, tomatoes,
lemon juice, and salt—- and tried to eat some every single day.
While in France I dined on Ratatouille, a delicious eggplant stew made with zucchini, bell peppers, onions,
onions, garlic, tomatoes, and herbal seasonings.
One of my favorite Indian curry dishes is Baingan Bharta, a thick and richly flavored eggplant stew
made by roasting the eggplants until they are very soft.
Then the flesh is scraped from the skin of the eggplant then mixed with tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
These ingredients are simmered with spices–coriander, cumin, turmeric, among others–until done.
Although eggplants belong to the controversial nightshade family of vegetables—
which also includes tomatoes, sweet peppers and potatoes–this low-calorie food delivers a wealth of
delivers a wealth of health and nutritional benefits.
Nutritional Benefits of Eggplant
Just one cup (raw) of eggplant delivers the following key nutrients:
So what does this mean for your health?
The humble yet surprisingly nutrient-rich eggplant:
-an excellent source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber, which protects the digestive tract
and can protect you from colon cancer.
-contains heart-healthy copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium and niacin.
-a good source for bone-building manganese
-high in bioflavonoids, which are known to control high blood pressure and relieve stress.
-good source of enzyme-catalyzing molybdenum
-good source of bone-building vitamin K and magnesium
-helps prevent blood clots—thanks again to Vitamin K and bioflavonoids, which strengthen
-can lower bad cholesterol when cooked in a healthy manner.
-is an excellent brain food due to the phytonutrient, nasunin, which improves blood circulation
and nourishes the brain
–protects cell membranes from damage and protects the lipids in brain cell membranes
-protects the cells from free radicals
-rich source of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants–most notably chlorogenic acid–
one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plant tissues.
–chlorogenic acid is antimutagenic (anti-cancer), antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and
Vegan Eggplant Recipes
This versatile, highly flavorful vegetable can be stuffed, grilled, baked, roasted, stewed or fried to
create lots of delicious dishes.
But healthy preparation is necessaryto profit from it’s nutritional benefits, .
For example, fried eggplant soaks up a lot of fat, making it heavy and unhealthy.
Instead we should bake it at 400 degrees to bring out the rich flavor and deliver all the goodness
eggplant can provide.
Middle Eastern Baba Ganoush
A favorite of Middle Eastern cooks is Baba Ganoush, an appetizer that combines roasted eggplant
with sesame tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt.
Baba Ganoush is one of nature’s miracle dips.
It is so creamy, yet it contains no dairy or dairy substitutes whatsoever.
It’s great with pita bread, veggies and more.
It’s just good wholesome ingredients.
Creating the dip usually takes longer and involves roasting a whole eggplant, but we’ve sped up
the process here.
2 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat your oven to 400 F.
Cut the eggplant into 2 inch chunks, place them in a baking pan and bake in the oven for
approximately 15 minutes, or until the flesh is soft.
Remove from oven and let cool.
Remove the skin from the cooled eggplant and place it in a blender.
Add the garlic, parsley, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil.
Blend until smooth.
The dip tastes great right away, but letting the flavors blend in the refrigerator for a couple
hours will be even better.
Baked Eggplant Fries
If you’ve tried fried zucchini sticks and fell in love, you’re in for a real treat.
The best news is, these eggplant fries aren’t actually fried. They’re baked!
They are crispy and include a great herb mixture that is sure to satisfy.
Serve with marinara sauce.
1 medium eggplant
1 1/4 cups whole grain breadcrumbs
1 cup grated vegan Parmesan
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
Coarse salt and pepper
Olive or coconut oil
Put your rack near the top of your oven and make sure there is space for your baking sheet
Set the oven to the broil setting.
Cut your eggplant into wedges, making them fairly thin, so the eggplant will soften when
you broil it.
Then set aside.
Whisk the vegan egg substitute into a shallow bowl or baking dish.
Combine the bread crumbs, vegan Parmesan, oregano, basil, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl
or baking dish.
Bread Crumb Mixture
One by one, dip your eggplant wedges into the vegan egg substitute mixture and then into the
breadcrumb mixture, ensuring it’s completely coated.
Place each wedge on a greased baking dish as you complete them.
Eggplant Fries, Ready for the Oven
Broil for 3 minutes per side.
They’re done when they’re golden brown.
Some recipes require that you salt and rinse eggplant before use to draw out its bitterness.
However, brining can be done in place of salting.
Brining also helps eggplant keep its shape when cooked, so it’s particularly useful when
But you can brine eggplant for use in most recipes.
Add 1 Tbsp. salt and about 1/2 cup hot water to a large bowl.
Stir the salt until it dissolves.
Next, fill the bowl with 2 quarts of cold water.
Cut the eggplant into pieces and submerge them in the salted water.
Weigh down the eggplant with an upside-down plate or pot lid so it is fully submerged
in the solution.
Leave the eggplant in the brine from 30 minutes to an hour.
Drain the eggplant, pat it dry with a clean towel.
Now it is ready to use in your recipe.
More Tasty Vegan Eggplant Recipes
*Charred Eggplant and Tomatoes with Harissa and Mint from Serious Eats
*Braised Eggplant with Tofu in Garlic Sauce from Serious Eats
A Note About Nightshade Sensitivity
Steaming, boiling, and baking are said to help reduce the alkaloid content of nightshades.
However, alkaloids are only reduced by around 40-50% from cooking.
For non-sensitive individuals, the cooking of nightshade foods might be sufficient to make the alkaloid
risk from nightshade intake insignificant.
But, even if you have no existing health problems potentially related to nightshade cosnumption,
you might want to take precautions to avoid excessive intake of alkaloids from these foods.
This could be a concern for sensitive individuals because the remaining alkaloid oncentration may be
enough to cause problems.
As I mentioned above, there is significant controversy around nightshade sensitivity and opinions
According to Westonprice.org:
“Why should you care about this? It’s likely that you enjoy eating these foods and can’t imagine
that they are bad for you in any way.
Well, if you suffer from inflammation, joint pain and cracking, avoiding nightshades will lessen
your pain, whether or not the nightshades are the true source of the pain.
Are you sensitive to weather changes?
This can be an indication of nightshade sensitivity.
Muscle pain and tightness, morning stiffness, poor healing, arthritis, insomnia and gall bladder
problems—these can all be caused by nightshades.
Nightshades can also cause heart burn or GERD—a lot of people already know they react this
way when they eat peppers or tomatoes.”
So, if you have existing joint problems like osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, or gout, it has been
suggested that a 2-3 week elimination of nightshade foods from your diet may help to determine if
nightshades could be contributing to your joint problems.
This could also apply to people with existing nervous system problems, especially nerve-muscle related
My recommendation is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and if you can eat nightshades,
enjoy them in moderation– much like many special treats in our lives.
What are your favorite eggplant recipes? Share your suggestions with us.
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