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Delicious Ways to Cook with Eggplant

March 6, 2012

If the soft, tender flesh and glossy purple skin of eggplants don't appeal to you, then the veggie's rich health benefits will! Thanks to nasunin, an antioxidant in eggplant peels that helps protect brain cells, and a host of other vitamins and minerals, this wholesome veggie is an ideal brain food. And since it's also low in calories and carbs, eggplant makes the perfect base for a variety of delicious entrees, side dishes, and snacks.

We asked healthy food bloggers for their most mouthwatering eggplant recipes , so you can start working this nutrient-dense vegetable into your diet right now!

RELATED: 20 New and Surprising Ways to Enjoy Green Tea

Baked eggplant fries
Baked eggplant fries

1. Baked eggplant fries with lemon dipping sauce:

Without dip: 141 calories, 4.7 grams sugar, 1.3 grams fat, 28.3 grams carbohydrates, 5.9 grams protein

Crunchy eggplant strips coated in whole-wheat breadcrumbs taste just like fries, except without all the empty calories! Tossed in a mix of spices like paprika, cumin, and garlic powder, and accompanied by a creamy lemon dill dip, this savory baked treat is a much healthier alternative to French fries.

Ingredients:
For fries:
1 eggplant, cut into strips
1/3 c. plain soy yogurt
1 tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 c. whole-wheat seasoned breadcrumbs

For dip:
1 c. plain soy yogurt
1 tsp. dill
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Fresh black pepper to taste

Directions:
For fries:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with a non-stick baking mat or parchment paper. Cut the top and bottom off of your eggplant. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and then into quarters. Next, cut the eggplant quarters into slices roughly 1/4 in. thick. Now cut the eggplant slices into strips roughly the size of French fries. Combine yogurt, parsley, garlic powder, paprika, ground cumin, onion powder, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar in a large bowl. Toss eggplant fries in soy yogurt mixture, coating evenly. Place breadcrumbs on a plate and lightly coat eggplant fries with breadcrumbs. Spread out evenly on trays making sure they don't touch. Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Turn halfway during baking to brown evenly. Serve immediately with lemon dill dipping sauce .

For dip:
Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour to chill and allow flavors to combine.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe provided by Virtually Vegan Mama


Baked eggplant chips
Baked eggplant chips

2. Eggplant chips with tahini, lemon, and honey dip:

81 calories, 2.9 grams sugar, 6.2 grams fat, 6.7 grams carbohydrates, 1.4 grams protein

If your late-night cravings won't let up, pass over the greasy potato chips in favor of baked eggplant crisps instead. These veggie chips get a spicy kick from a sprinkle of paprika powder, and they won't break the calorie bank. Even better, dip them into a tahini spread for extra snacking pleasure!

Ingredients:
For chips:
1 eggplant, thinly sliced
Sea salt
2-3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. turmeric
Pinch of cayenne powder (optional)

For dip:
1 heaped tbsp. tahini
1-2 tbsp. cold water
1 tsp. raw honey
1 small clove of garlic (optional)
Olive oil
A sprinkle of paprika

Directions:
For chips:
First prepare the eggplant by slicing it thinly and then covering each piece of sliced eggplant with a sprinkle of sea salt. Place in a bowl for 1 hour-overnight. This step helps reduce the bitterness and baking time of the eggplant. Once that time is over and your ready to cook drain out the water that would have come off the eggplant and dry each piece of eggplant. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a separate bowl mix together the olive oil, paprika, turmeric, cayenne (if used) and a little bit of salt. Brush each piece of eggplant on both sides with the spice-oil mixture. Place covered eggplant pieces onto a baking tray and cook in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes (fan-forced) or until lightly browned and crispy.

For dip:
Mix together the tahini, water, honey, and garlic. You may need to add a bit more water to thin it out. You want it to have a syrupy texture but not watery so adjust the water content to get your desired texture. Pour a bit of olive oil in the middle (around 1 tsp.) and sprinkle with paprika. Serve the tahini dip with the eggplant chips.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe provided by Health Food Lover

RELATED: The Best Bacon Dishes We've Ever Seen (and 5 Healthy Alternatives)

Eggplant pizza
Eggplant pizza

3. Eggplant pizza:

252 calories, 12.4 grams sugar, 13.2 grams fat, 23.4 grams carbohydrates, 14.3 grams protein

Thick, juicy slices of eggplant take the place of traditional pizza crust in this healthy recipe. If you want to cut even more calories, go light on the cheese and get creative with toppings.

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 14 oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 tbsp. garlic gold
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Cheese of your choice (about 1-2 c.)

Directions:
Slice eggplant into discs. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Flip eggplants. Add tomato paste and then pile on tomatoes (draining slightly if yours are runny). Top with garlic gold, Italian seasoning, and cheese. Bake 10 minutes more.

Makes 2-3 servings.

Recipe provided by Kath Eats Real Food


For more healthy and delicious ways to cook with eggplant, click here!


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