22 September 11 Eggplant

Local Colorado farmers still have eggplant – hurray! I'll eat any color, shape or variety of eggplant as long as it still has a plump firmness. But beware – don't let eggplant languish on the counter or in the refrigerator. For best flavor and to avoid spoilage, use it right away. Otherwise, wrap it and store in your refrigerator's produce bin and try to use within 1-2 days.


Eggplant is flavorful yet low in calories, carbs, fat and protein. As a member of the nightshade family, its cousins are peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes. Interestingly, tobacco and petunias are also in this plant family.

Mostly water by weight, one cup of cooked eggplant contains only 35 calories and 9 grams of total carbohydrates (data from MyNetDiary). Although eggplant is not an excellent source of any one nutrient, it is a fair source for a large variety of vitamins and minerals. That is, it is a "jack of all trades but master at none."

Eggplant is satisfying despite being low in calories and providing only a modest amount of dietary fiber (2.5 grams per cup cooked). Add this lovely vegetable (technically, it is a fruit) to your meals or include as an appetizer to help boost flavor without a lot of calories.

Salting Required?

According to Harold McGee (On Food & Cooking), salting reduces our perception of bitterness. Technically, salting doesn't really eliminate bitter – it works more like a masking agent. Salting also reduces the eggplant's ability to sponge up fat during frying. However, the same can be accomplished by microwaving eggplant before frying.

If you salt eggplant, let it stand for about 30 minutes before cooking. To reduce the sodium content, rinse the eggplant with water and then squeeze out excess moisture.

Technically, you do not need to salt eggplant before cooking. If you cook with little fat or use a variety of eggplant that is not particularly bitter, then consider skipping the salt.


There are many great-tasting, healthy recipes that use eggplant. I hope those of you reading this will take a moment to post your favorite recipes on our Facebook page or Community Forum. The recipes below are some of my favorites that are healthy (within the larger context of a meal) and limited in calories.

Cooking Light Baked Eggplant with Mushroom and Tomato Sauce. This is a very simple, yet incredibly delicious take on Eggplant Parmesan.

Mark Bittman. The Minimalist: Easy Ratatouille. Be sure to read the comments on how readers adjusted the recipe to their liking. I enjoyed the recipe as written.

EatingWell. Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Stacks. This is my favorite for a healthier decadent appetizer. The saturated fat comes from the fresh mozzarella so pair this with an entree low in saturated fat (e.g. without cheese or fatty meats).

EatingWell. Baba Ganouj. This is sometimes called "eggplant salad" – great as a salad side, pita stuffing or dip.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Foods & Recipes/Fruit & Vegetables

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