At this time of year, one of my family’s absolute favorites—Eggplant Parmesan, is not only good for your blood lipids (which I’ll get to in a minute)…it’s filled with amazing health benefits!
Eggplant, a nightshade vegetable, is high in fiber, manganese, vitamin B1, copper, and potassium. It also contains nasunin, an anthocyanin antioxidant that protects your cell membranes from damage—and fortifies your immune system.
Plus, eggplant’s main phenolic compound—cholorogenic acid—not only has viral and cancer fighting actions, it can lower your blood fat levels. But one caveat for folks with kidney and gallbladder problems is that eggplant may actually block your absorption of calcium if you’re not getting an adequate amount in your diet.
When selecting an eggplant, we like the mid-sized ones for individual servings. They aren’t always easy to find though, and a full sized eggplant works just as well. (But avoid Japanese eggplants; there just isn’t enough “meat” inside to work with). Pick an eggplant that’s firm, heavy, shiny, and colorful, but not waxed. If your thumbprint springs back, it’s fresh!
Now, here’s something that might surprise you—not only is eggplant good for your health, it can be cooked outside on the grill. In fact, I created an easy, delicious recipe called, “Eggplant Parm-on-the-Grill.”
Here’s how to make it:
- Slice the washed eggplant in half horizontally, and place it on the grill, skin side down. By the way, be sure to use a stainless steel knife since carbon reacts with the phytonutrients in eggplant and causes them to turn black. Depending on the size of the eggplant, your cooking time will vary, but allow about 7-12 minutes until the pulp inside softens.
- Use a fork to scratch and mash it in the skin, or scoop it out to mash (sorta like baking a twice-baked potato) and put it back in.
- Top the eggplant with pre-warmed spaghetti sauce (which is also good for your LDL cholesterol levels), and your favorite grated cheese. We dubbed this dish “Eggplant Parm,” but you can also use Romano, Pecorino, or Asiago cheeses.
- Garnish with your choice of farmstand-fresh chopped basil, cilantro, or parsley. If you want more antioxidant support, use all three!
We like to enjoy our Eggplant Parm with a salad topped with broccoli florets. The lycopene in the tomatoes and the sulphurophane in the broccoli also have a synergism that packs a one-two punch for squelching cancer. Then, add your favorite cool drink and enjoy!