I would suspect most people some time in their life have food cravings and can’t exactly pinpoint what they’re taste buds really want? Chocolate IMMEDIATELY comes to mind for some people. Yet, others want a creamy texture like peanut butter, still other want the satisfying salty crunch of a potato chip. But sometimes those quick fixes are often times just a band-aid for what the underlying craving really is like perhaps real food.
It’s often times in the quick fix cravings our bodies are trying to tell us we are low in some vital nutrients and minerals and the quick go-to-food can quell the craving but doesn’t always fix the problem. Kind of like if you really cut your finger you certainly don’t just want a band-aid to “fix” the wound you most likely need stitches because the wound is deep. The superficial quick fixes of food is similar. There is a real underlying issue for building back up your bodies reserves in nutrients and minerals and the junk food just won’t cut it…pardon the pun.
One of those cravings I have is eggplant. Now, most of you are probably like….WHAT???? Do you crave eggplant? Surprisingly, yes! Eggplants have a long laundry list of nutritional benefits, one in particular of reducing symptoms of anemia…which is why my body craves this vital fruit…err vegetable. Technically, eggplants are a fruit because they grow from a flowering plant and contain seeds and are a member of the nightshade family. Eggplant, grow like tomatoes mannerly speaking, being they hang from vines of plants that grow several feet high.
Some additional health benefits of eggplants:
- Improve Brain function: Contain antioxidants particularly, Nasunin, an anthocyanin, that helps to protect the brain from damaging free radicals as well as removing toxic waste material. Anthocyanins can help reduce neuroinflammation, which is inflammation of the nervous tissue, and aid in blood circulation to help boost cognitive activity.
- Help to aid in better digestion: High dietary fiber helps with increased gastric acid secretion, which in turn helps with nutrient absorption and overall better digestion of food. Plus, fiber helps with improved bowel movement motility!
- Reduce Anemia: Eggplant is a good source of iron and copper which are both vital components for red blood cells and combatting anemia.
- Help Bone Health: Contain a significant amount of Manganese, which works primarily as a coenzyme helping out in various metabolic processes in the body particularly with bone formation.
- Helps to Protect against Cancer: Have varying levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients which help protect the body from damaging free radicals.
- May aid in Weight loss: Thanks to the high fiber content and low-calorie content eggplant can help with satiety making you feeling fuller LONGER!
So on the menu tonight is my ‘Baked Eggplant with Marinara Sauce over quinoa pasta’ which is a savory, nutritionally dense yet VERY flavorful satisfying dish!
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 medium onion
- 2 peppers red, orange
- 3 stalks celery
- 2 large carrots
- 2-3 cans of diced tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ tsp. oregano
- ¼ tsp. parsley
- ¼ tsp. basil
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- **Optional red pepper flakes ½ teaspoon I like a bit of a kick!
- Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut the eggplant ¼ to ½ inch and place on parchment paper.
- Lightly salt the eggplant to “sweat” the fluid out.
- After an hour or so I dab some of the salt off of the eggplant.
- In the hour the eggplant is “sweating” dice, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and herbs sauté until almost cooked.
- Add the canned tomatoes and other herbs and simmer sauce until oven is ready to bake eggplant.
- Place lid over sauce and turn to low heat and continue simmering until eggplant is done.
- Place eggplant in the oven and bake 20 minutes until golden brown (not burnt)
- Once the eggplant is done either add all the eggplant to marinara sauce or add individually per plate.