I just love warm, bubbly, rich-and-hearty eggplant Parmesan. An Italian classic and personal favorite, eggplant Parmesan can be nutrient-packed and healthy with the right ingredients and culinary know-how…
First the bad news… Traditional eggplant Parmesan often brings unsavory ingredients to the table, like deep-fried eggplant. Deep frying and pan frying at very high temperatures can cause oils to oxidize and ultimately do a number on your arteries. Then there are the gobs of cheese. While cheese can certainly be a part of a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, you want to consume it in moderation due to its saturated fat content. Also, unless you’re buying organic cheese (or from a seller you know uses milk produced under organic standards), you may be getting pesticide residues, GMOs, or even artificial hormones with all that delicious gooeyness.
Also, many eggplant Parm dishes are made with marinara sauces that are loaded with salt and sugar (as most marinara sauces on the market are). Finally, eggplant Parm is often served over a giant bed of white pasta. While traditional pasta ranks high on most people’s “comfort food” lists (I love it too!), it contains a lot of carbs, too many of which eaten in one sitting can drive up blood sugar and threaten health. Plus, if you’re not eating organic pasta, you may be ingesting pesticide residues.
Now for the good news…You can eat many of the comfort foods you love without endangering your health – you just need to be smart about the ingredients you choose and the way you prepare them.
Here are some tips for making healthy eggplant Parmesan:
- Bake the eggplant, don’t fry it at high temps
- Use organic Mozzarella cheese (which means no GMOs, hormones or pesticides) and in moderation, so you’re not getting a crazy amount of saturated fat
- Include extra organic veggies for added fiber and nutrients
- Use a vibrant, organic marinara with no added sugars and not too much salt (like my pesticide-free Vervana sauce, which is sweetened only with carrots and is lower in sodium than many store-bought varieties)
- Serve it over organic, high-protein red lentil pasta instead of traditional white pasta – this means more nutrients, lots of protein and fiber to promote a healthier blood sugar response, and none of the pesticides commonly found in regular white pasta.
Don’t think for a minute that you have to sacrifice flavor for health – my healthy eggplant Parmesan recipe is satisfying, comforting and loaded with nutrients!
Dr. Sinatra’s Healthy Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
*use organic ingredients whenever possible
- 2 eggplants sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 cups bread crumbs (Panko, Italian style, gluten-free or homemade. For grain-free, you can use 1/2 c. of almond or coconut flour with a little salt and pepper mixed with 1 tsp of Mediterranean Spice Blend.)
- 1 jar Vervana Organic Marinara Sauce
- 2 bell peppers (any color) sliced
- 1 tsp Mediterranean Spice Blend
- 1 tbs Vervana Organic EVOO (or cold-pressed Basil, Oregano, or Garlic olive oils)
- 10 oz fresh organic mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
- Handful of fresh basil chopped
- 1 tsp Tuscan Spice Blend
- 1 bag of Vervana Red Lentil pasta, prepared according to directions
- Salt Blend
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Wash and slice the eggplant. Grind sea salt onto both sides of each eggplant slice, and lay the slices on a plate to reduce moisture. Let eggplant sit for 30-60 minutes, then blot each slice with a paper towel to absorb the excess moisture. Dip each slice into the eggs, then into the bread crumbs (or flour mixture) and place onto a greased baking sheet. Bake each side for 8 to 15 minutes until crispy. While the eggplant is baking, warm the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Add the sliced peppers and the Mediterranean Spice Blend and sauté until soft. Spread a thin layer of marinara sauce on the bottom of an 9×13 baking dish followed by a layer of eggplant, then peppers, more sauce, and evenly spread some of the mozzarella out over the top of the layer. Repeat until all the eggplant and cheese is used. Sprinkle the top with the basil and the Tuscan Blend. Bake for 40-60 minutes until bubbly and browned on top. Place 1/4 of the prepared pasta onto a serving plate or in a bowl and top with a spoonful of marinara sauce or a drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil if desired. Top with a serving of eggplant Parmesan.
And if you like meat, you’ll love this healthy meatballs recipe.
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