October 14, 2012

What in the world is the purple plant? You don’t see a lot of purple foods. Maybe grapes, figs, and plums, but what about vegetables. You’d be surprised. There are purple peppers, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots! We all know it is important to eat a variety of fruits and veggies, and adding to that variety is color. Different color foods provide different types of nutrients. Eggplant is no exception. Let’s explore this healthy vegetable.

So what’s so good about eggplant?

Eggplant is very nutritious, having cancer-fighting qualities, protecting against damage to cell membranes in the body, and removing excess iron. The problem with excess iron is that it can lead to an increase in free-radicals, thus increasing risk of cancer. Can eating eggplant help with arthritis? This is quite likely, because eggplant works to remove free-radicals from the body. Eggplant consumption may decrease the risk of free-radical related damage to the joints. Free-radicals can also negatively impact blood cholesterol, thus increasing risk for heart disease. That being said, eggplant may assist in decreasing risk for heart disease through free-radical removal.

Eggplant is a good source of fiber, B vitamins and folic acid, and minerals, such as copper, niacin, manganese, phosphorous, and magnesium. Eggplant has a texture that lends itself to being “meaty,” like mushrooms. This is good, especially when you are looking for a way to cut down meat consumption and find a healthy substitute to add texture to meals.

 What is eggplant, and where did it come from?

Eggplant is known by several different names, including aubergine and garden egg. It is a member of the Solanaceae, or nightshade, family. Other foods in this family include potatoes and tomatoes. Eggplants are an interesting vegetable, from the variety of colors they come in (purple, green, yellow, and orange) and oblong shape, to the texture and taste. Eggplants grow from a vine similar to tomatoes, and when cut in half widthwise, a cream-colored flesh with seeds is revealed. The seeds align the middle of the plant in a conical way. Eggplants originated in China, made their way through Africa, Italy, and the Middle East. Eggplant is now cultivated around the world. In the US, the most popular variety is the purple eggplant, originally from India.

How do you select and store eggplant?

Choose firm and unblemished eggplants that feel heavy for their size. Look for consistency in the color of the eggplant. The skin should be shiny and firm. The skin should not be wrinkled or dry. Gently press your finger into the eggplant. This should leave an impression, but in a ripe eggplant, the skin will bounce back to its original form. Eggplants can be stored in the refrigerator, but should be used within 4-6 days. Always wash eggplants thoroughly, using a vinegar and water solution or a fruit and vegetable wash. Eggplant can have tough skin, and you may need to peel the skin prior to cooking. If the skin is not tough, feel free to cook and eat it along with the flesh. When cutting eggplant, using a carbon based steel knife can cause the flesh to become black. Use a stainless steel knife instead. To remove some of the bitterness, slice the eggplant into several slices widthwise, then salt the eggplant. This will pull out the excess water, as well as some of the bitterness. After about 30 minutes, take the salted eggplant and rinse it with water to remove the salt. The eggplant slices should be noticeably thinner in size. You are now ready to cook!

What can you do with eggplant?

Video for using Kale with Eggplant

Here are some ideas for using eggplant:

1) Make ratatouille

2) Make eggplant parmesan

3) Sauté eggplant with other vegetables

4) Make grilled eggplant sandwiches, or simply grill with other vegetables

5) Make eggplant lasagna

6) Make eggplant chips (from sliced eggplant)

7) Make baba ganoush

8) Make baked eggplant (whole)

9) Make stuffed eggplant

10) Use eggplant instead of meat in a marinara sauce and eat over pasta or spaghetti squash

Do you know any good recipes for eggplant? Let us know, and leave a comment below if you liked this article.

~ Cece


Field Guide to Produce: How to Identify, Select, and Prepare Virtually Every Fruit and Vegetable on the Market by Aliza Green

Total Nutrition: The Only Guide You’ll Ever Need Edited by Victor Herbert, M.D., F.A.C.P. and Genell J. Subak-Sharpe, M.S.

The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno N.D. with Lara Pizzorno M.A., L.M.T.

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