Think Purple (Getting to Know Eggplant)

by Kim on August 12, 2012

Part of the purpose of this blog is to motivate me to get more confident in the kitchen, as I’m learning about how to cook and eat healthier. As part of that goal, I’ve decided to start something I’m tentatively calling Food Study.

Basically, I’ll pick a food that I rarely cook with or am intimidated by for whatever reason, and challenge myself to:

  1. Learn about the health benefits that food has to offer.
  2. Explore different ways to prepare the food: raw, sauteed, grilled, baked, etc.
  3. Make some new recipes that include the food.

It’s easy to get into a little food rut, even if you’re pretty good at diversifying your meals. You probably have a list of foods in your head that you’re more comfortable working with, and another list of ones you naturally shy away from. If you’ve never cooked with, say, yeast or rutabaga, you might be turned off by a recipe just because it includes those things, or you might try to skip the scary ingredients. I’ve totally done both.

Part of this is laziness, of course-it’s easier and less risky to stick to what you know. But most of it is just habit. You don’t cook with that food because, well, you just don’t. Maybe you tried it once and it didn’t go so well, or it just seems too time-consuming or complicated. Maybe you don’t have the fancy tools you think you need to work with it. Maybe your “kids won’t like it” (you assume).

Or maybe you just don’t feel like learning a new cooking skill. I feel that one.

Coincidentally, the day I was first thinking about this, my Daily Challenge was:

purple challenge

And so, I give you Food Study food #1:

Eggplant

IMG_1527

I love eggplant. Eggplant parmesan?? Love LOVE it.

In restaurants. When other people prepare it.

At home….eh. Seems like a hassle.

I just don’t cook with this guy, and there’s not real reason for it. So yesterday, I bought my first ever eggplant.

Eggplant: The Stats

First, I had to do step 1: learn about the health benefits of eggplant. Here’s what the interwebs told me:

Eggplant has no fat, six carbs and 27 calories in a 1-cup serving-can’t argue with that.

It’s also loaded with vitamins and minerals and can help prevent cancer and lower cholesterol.

Specifically, it offers:

Chlorogenic Acid: a plant compound known for its high antioxidant and antiviral activity and its ability to protect cells from mutating into cancer cells. Wild.

Nasunin: an antioxidant compound, found in the peel of the eggplant, that is antiangiogenic. When something is angiogenic, it stimulates new growth of blood vessels and blood supply. This seems like a good thing, but when it comes to cancer-not so much. Cancerous cells can gain angiogenesis ability, meaning they can develop a way to increase their own blood supply. This can cause a cancerous mass or tumor to grow faster. Nasunin in eggplant has the ability to prevent angiogenesis from occurring.

Fiber, Vitamins and Minerals: including folate, vitamins A, B, and C, and large quantities of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorous. Not bad.

(source)

Recipe 1: Eggplant Chips

I wanted to start with something easy, so when Greatist posted this recipe for eggplant chips with basil yogurt dip, I figured it’d be a nice intro to the world of purple fruit.

Step 1: Wash and slice.

IMG_1528

So far so good.

Step 2: Place on paper towels and sprinkle with kosher salt. I was feeling pretty confident at this point.

IMG_1529These are eggplant slices on a pan in a “single layer.” Starting to fudge it a little already…

I had a little setback during the creation of the garlic oil, which you’re supposed to spread on the slices before baking. I was supposed to be able to toss oil and garlic cloves into the food processor and blend them into a smooth paste. Instead, I ended up with this mess:

IMG_1530Gah, why won’t you BLEND!

Oh well. I spread this gunk on anyway and hoped for the best.

12 minutes on each side later, they were looking kinda gnarly, but still edible:

IMG_1531I wouldn’t say I dominated the flipping of the slices…

Eventually, I ended up with this:

IMG_1533

Of course, there were a few victims…

IMG_1534Apparently, when they say “thin slices,” they really mean “actually kind of thick slices.”

But the survivors were pretty amazing. Even the hubby approved. (Well, let’s be real: salt + garlic + oil = almost guaranteed approval.)

This is just a technicality, but I might have made a *little* too much dip…

IMG_1536

Not bad for my first try, I guess. Highly recommend this recipe!

I’m going to dig up a few more eggplant recipes to try later this month. Any suggestions?

What foods do you rarely cook with or get intimidated by?

Side note, did anyone watch the meteor shower last night? We laid out on the deck for awhile around 11 PM and saw about 7 meteors-one with a super long tail (like the pic below)! Pretty amaze!

meteor

Interesting read: Is Bad Body Image a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?

~Kim

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jenny August 16, 2012 at 1:44 am

I also never really cook eggplant, mainly because I can never think of any easy recipes I want to try with it (evidently, a critical element for me when purchasing food). That said, those chips are now sort of calling to me… Will probably have to give those a try!

I’m a bit intimidated by whole artichokes (behold the pointy armor) and whole beets. I adore eating both of these, but just thinking of the (not *that* difficult) preparation involved makes me insta-lazy.

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Kim August 22, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Maybe I’ll have to tackle artichokes and beets next–I love em both too! The good news is: if I can do it, anyone can! :)

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