Hungry for something hearty, but without all the fat and calories? Try eggplant! Eggplant adapts to a variety of cuisines because it absorbs whatever flavors are added. Eggplant is delicious cold or hot and can be enjoyed marinated, stuffed, roasted, grilled, or on brochettes. It is a natural in pasta, stir-fry dishes, soups, casseroles, ratatouille and even on sandwiches.
A half-cup serving of cooked, cubed eggplant offers 1.2 grams of fiber for only 13 calories. It also contains two important disease-fighting substances, terpenes and flavonoids, found in the eggplant’s skin. Terpenes help lower cholesterol and may help prevent certain cancers. Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that may help lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. You must eat the skin in order to gain the benefits.
Young, fresh eggplants are usually less bitter than older eggplants. Younger ones tend to have a shiny, smooth skin and a green stem and cap. They are also smaller, not overly large. Once purchased, you can store them in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Slice or dice the eggplant into the size you want for cooking, then sprinkle with about half a teaspoon of salt for a standard purple eggplant. Let the pieces drain in a colander for 30 to 60 minutes, then rinse well. Press out the excess liquid and dry with a clean kitchen towel. Careful rinsing gets rid of the salt and will not increase the sodium content. Very fresh eggplants do not need salting to prevent bitterness.
Tips for Cooking
• Cut the eggplant as close to cooking time as possible to avoid browning.
• Leave the skin on for color, shape retention and nutritional benefits.
• Saute eggplant in a small amount of very hot oil in a nonstick pan. This will ensure it doesn’t absorb too much oil when cooking. You can also spray slices with olive oil cooking spray and roast, grill or broil them.
• To make eggplant steaks, dip eggplant slices first into beaten egg white and then breadcrumbs. Bake at 400 degrees, turning once, until brown.
• Add chopped eggplant to pasta, stir-fry dishes, stews, soups and casseroles to give them body and a meaty texture.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is for informational purposes and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any illness. Consult a physician before taking any action.
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