The Purple Powerhouse
By Alysia Santo
Known for its glossy purple skin, eggplant is an often unsung hero among vegetables. Rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it has a uniquely satisfying texture, making it an excellent meat substitute for cancer patients who want to reduce the amount of meat or animal fat in their diets.
No matter what the variety, eggplant contains a range of different nutrients important during chemotherapy. It has high levels of folate and potassium, and contains superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant that prevents free radicals from damaging cells. Long a staple in Mediterranean diets, eggplant is also a good source of folate, an important factor in the creation and maintenance of new cells, helpful since all cells can be harmed by radiation and chemo.
Choose organic eggplant to get full benefits. Non-organic eggplant usually has a waxy coating on the skin that must be removed, and peeling the skin takes away the primary source of many of the vegetable’s nutrients. When choosing eggplant, apply some pressure to the skin with your finger. If the skin bounces back, it’s ripe and ready to cook.
Eggplant absorbs the flavors it is cooked with, which makes it great for a stir-fry. Or cook it with tomato sauce as lasagna, substituting eggplant slices for the high carb noodles in that dish. If you can find them, use the smaller, skinnier Asian eggplants, since they are sweeter and denser, and don’t need to be salted before cooking.
For the larger Italian eggplants, to remove any bitterness and excess water, cut the eggplant into half-inch rounds, place it flat on a paper towel and sprinkle with sea salt. After an hour, the bitter taste becomes quite mild, so you can even chop it raw and toss it into a salad. For a delicious dish try Cook For Your Life’s Quinoa with Roasted Ratatouille.