By Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN
Did you know that only 9% of Americans eat enough vegetables (Lee-Kwan et al., 2017)?
The USDA ChooseMyPlate food guide recommends that vegetables make up half of your plate. For 2,000 calories a day, that should include two and a half cups of vegetables.
Eggplant is quite versatile and has lots of possibilities for main dishes for a plant-based diet. It has a pretty mild flavor. Choose medium sized eggplants to avoid bitterness. According to recent DNA analysis, eggplant may have originally come from northeastern Africa (learn more in this post from the UK National History Museum.)
One cup of raw eggplant contains just 25 calories and a few important nutrients with 3 grams of fiber and 229 mg. of potassium. Nutrition per cup (USDA FoodData Central).
Here are some ideas to spark your imagination:
- Ratatouille: this is a stew of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, and herbs. It can be carefully arranged or just thrown together; baked or cooked on the stovetop; and is delicious either way.
- Grilled eggplant kebobs: Marinate eggplant cubes in olive oil, soy sauce, grated ginger, minced garlic, and black pepper. Thread on metal skewers with grape tomatoes, mushrooms, and chunks of onions and bell peppers to grill.
- Sauté eggplant strips with portobello mushrooms and other vegetables and serve in a whole grain wrap or panini with vegan mozzarella and pesto.
- Stuffed eggplant: Cut eggplant in half, bake it, scoop out the eggplant, and then combine with cooked farro, barley, white beans, chickpeas, lentils, or barley plus vegetables, herbs, and tahini (made from sesame seeds). Stuff the eggplants with this mixture and bake a little longer.
- Eggplant parmesan: Coat slices with breadcrumbs see details here: Crispy baked eggplant) and top with spaghetti sauce or crushed tomatoes and vegan mozzarella or parmesan cheese. It’s a terrific meal with pasta and a green salad.
Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN is a nutrition professor and blogs at: https:/melissatraubrd.com.
You can follow her on Instagram and Facebook @melissatraubrd.
Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, Harris DM, Galuska D. Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption — United States, 2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:1241–1247. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6645a1