Loving the BITE: Grilled Eggplant for Dinner and Health

There they are, setting in the produce department, daring you to pick one up.  And figure out what the heck to do with it.  Surely, they’re good for you, right?  They are vegetables after all, and vibrantly purple.  Eggplants.  It’s what’s for dinner this week.

Recipe of the Week:  Simple Grilled Eggplants

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 3 tablespoons coarse salt, plus more for serving
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Set eggplant slices out and spinkle with salt on both sides. Move slices to a colancer and set over a bowl…allow to drain for 1 hour.  Discard any liquid and rince eggplace slices under cold running water.  Place on a few layers of paper towels and press any remaining water out.
  2. Preheat  grill over medium-high heat. Generously brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil.  Then, sprinkle both side with pepper.
  3. Place on grill, and cook until browned, about 5-6 minutes on first side.  Flip eggplant slices, and cook until browned on opposite side.  Remove from heat, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle on salt and pepper, to taste.  Serve hot.

Comments:

Eggplants may not be everyone’s go-to vegetable.  But like other vibrantly colorful whole foods, they have a lot to offer nutritionally, especially in fighting free radicals.  Serve up eggplant this week, and you’ll get a Powerhouse of antioxidants:

  • Anthocyanins: These phytonutrients are found in the eggplant’s skin, and are responsible for the dark purple color (similar to red grapes and red cabbage).  One specific anthocyanin, nasunin, is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage, especially the fats in brain cells. These fatty membranes are responsible for monitoring what comes in and out of these cells…a very important function, especially for a brainy cyclist, like yourself.
  • Whole Body Oxidative Stress Reduction: Beyond the brain, nasunin, Chlorogenic acid. and eggplant’s other antioxidants reduce free radical formation with numerous beneficial results, including protecting blood cholesterol (which is also a type of lipid or fat) from peroxidation; preventing cellular damage that can promote cancer; and lessening free radical damage in joints, which is a primary factor in rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Cholesterol Reducers: If you’ve got high “bad” LDL cholesterol, there are good reasons to eat eggplants.  In animal studies, eggplant juice (sounds yummy, right?) has lowered bad cholesterol in the blood, in the artery walls (this is where it forms plagues), and in the aorta (you know, just the artery that returns blood from the heart back into cirulation).  I’ll take some eggplant, and blood and arteries from of oxidized cholesterol plagues.

Bonus: Reduce Free Radicals after Working Out

There’s no better time to pump up the antioxidant intake than immediately after a ride (you’ve got extra free radicals floating around looking to damage your cells after working out).  This is one reason I recommend whole-food recovery over processed bars, drinks, or convenience foods, when possible.  This week, try adding some raw eggplant to your perfect recovery smoothie.

Mix 1 cup berries or pitted cherries, 1/2 cup diced eggplant (skin-on), 1 cup plain yogurt (or ½ cup Greek yogurt or 1 scoop protein powder), ½ Tbsp organic coconut oil, 1 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbps almond butter.  Blend until desired consistency, adding water and/or ice as needed.

Free radicals, beware!  This week, eggplant’s potent antioxidants are going to deliver a cellular smack-down.  That’s all.

Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.

  • http://www.drwhalen.com/ Santee Chiropractor

    This is a great reminder for me to pick up a few pieces when I go grocery shopping this weekend. I do wonder though, how would you know you’re picking the right kind of eggplant, or at least the best state? How can you tell which ones are bad and which ones are the freshest of the lot?

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Hello and thanks so much for your comment and question.
      From whfoods.com:
      “Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be
      smooth and shiny, and their color, whether it be purple, white or green, should
      be vivid. They should be free of discoloration, scars, and bruises, which
      usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed.
      The stem and cap, on either end of the eggplant, should be bright green in
      color. As you would with other fruits and vegetables, avoid purchasing eggplant
      that has been waxed. To test for the ripeness of an eggplant, gently press the
      skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, while
      if an indentation remains, it is not.”
      I recommend purple eggplants over other varieties as they will have the most antioxidants (and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen another variety in the store.
      Seems like that should about cover it!:) Hope it helps…

  • Chris

    Kelli thanks for giving me a reason to try eggplant

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      You’re welcome, Chris! I hope you like it!

  • Pamela

    Yay for eggplant! And thanks for this recipe. I always loved the vegetable, but I never knew it was so good for you!

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Awesome! Yes, I’m always on the hunt for simple recipe that use “superfoods!” :) Enjoy!

  • AmandaGaleKotyk

    Yay for an eggplant recipe…and once again, thanks for teaching us about the great benefits. We’ve been getting eggplants from our neighbours garden (they have more than they can eat), and I’ve tried it a couple ways, but haven’t tried grilling it yet. I will be definitely be try it this way.

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Hi Amanda,
      I hope you like it grilled. And, if you or your neighbors is still overloaded, here’s info on how to freeze eggplant (might be good to pull out for smoothies this winter): http://www.pickyourown.org/freezingeggplant.htm

      • AmandaGaleKotyk

        Awesome….thanks Kelli!

  • Ben

    Do you have any tips on selecting the right eggplant? I bought one once and it wasn’t as tasty as I thought it might be. I would like to know how I can select one with full flavor.

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Hi Ben,
      From whfoods.com:
      “Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be
      smooth and shiny, and their color, whether it be purple, white or green, should
      be vivid. They should be free of discoloration, scars, and bruises, which
      usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed.

      The stem and cap, on either end of the eggplant, should be bright green in
      color. As you would with other fruits and vegetables, avoid purchasing eggplant
      that has been waxed. To test for the ripeness of an eggplant, gently press the
      skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, while
      if an indentation remains, it is not.”
      Seems like that should about cover it!:) Hope it helps…

  • Karen

    wow, didn’t know eggplants had so many benefits. I must try grilling some, too bad son won’t eat them.

    • http://twitter.com/fuelright Kelli Jennings

      Hi Karen,
      Any vibrant, dark color you find in the produce section = antioxidants! They don’t have a strong flavor, so if your son likes smoothies, you might be able to add some there :). If not, keep offering and give it time. However, some people do have an issue with the mouthfeel and texture. Have a great day!