An Italian classic, eggplant Parmesan can be nutrient-packed and healthy with the right ingredients and culinary know-how…
How to Make Healthy Eggplant Parmesan
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 make oils 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, so you don’t get a crazy amount of saturated fat. Also, unless you’re buying organic or locally-made cheese, you may be getting pesticide residues, GMOs, or even artificial hormones with all that delicious gooeyness.
Many eggplant Parm dishes are also unfortunately made with marinara sauces that are loaded with salt and sugar (as most marinara sauces on the market are), and are 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’s really carb-heavy. 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 and in moderation
- 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 Olive Oil Dipping Blend.)
- 1 jar Vervana Organic Marinara Sauce
- 2 bell peppers (any color) sliced
- 1 tsp Olive Oil Dipping Blend
- 1 to 4 tbs Vervana Organic EVOO (or cold-pressed Basil, Oregano, or Garlic olive oils)
- 10 oz organic mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
- Optional – Handful of chopped fresh basil or parsley
- 1 bag of Vervana Red Lentil pasta, prepared according to directions
- Salt and Pepper Blends
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 Olive Oil Dipping 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. 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 finish with a drizzle of extra virgin or flavored olive oil. Add fresh, chopped herbs, if you like.
And if you like meat, you’ll love this healthy meatballs recipe.
© 2018, 2019 Stephen Sinatra, MD. All rights reserved.