September 1st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Some home cooks cringe at the thought of hosting a crowd because they don’t know how to plan the menu.
Entertaining needn’t be stressful. Focus on filling guests’ bellies, and remember that you can’t please everyone all the time. An organic vegetarian entree solves multiple problems.
If you don’t have a go-to dish, I’d recommend a classic eggplant rollatini. It’s a perfect entree, especially if time is of the essence. Pre-sliced raw or roasted organic eggplant slices are available in bulk from a well-stocked supermarket or natural/organic food store.
Read More:Party Food: Organic Eggplant Rollatini
May 3rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
If your mom loves to garden—or if you’d like to help her get started—pick up a container or two of Ecosource’s Organic Grow Your Own Seedling Starter Kits for Mother’s Day.
Nine USDA-certified organic varieties are available for last-minute shoppers (ground, 2-day or overnight shipping):
- Bell Pepper
- Heirloom Tomato
A Strawberry Kit is also available, but the seedlings are not organic.
Each kit ($15.99) contains instructions, an eco-friendly tray, high-quality soil, a reusable “greenhouse bag” and biodegradable seedling starter shells, all housed in a decorative container.
Users can start up to 10 seedlings and then transplant them into their gardens.
Ecosource founders Chad Callihan and Chuck Rose quit the corporate world and started the Decatur, GA-based company in 2006 to develop stylish, affordable and eco-friendly products.
“We’re not trying to be perfect, but we’re learning every day about how to make better choices for ourselves and the future of our children’s planet,” they state. “We hope that by sharing our experience, you’ll want to do the same.”
Read More:Mother’s Day Gift Idea: Start an Organic Garden
July 7th, 2009 - Barbara Feiner
We’ve published our share of organic eggplant recipes over the years, including these five favorites:
- Eggplant Hummus
- Baba Ghanouj
- Eggplant Parmesan Soup
- Kootu Curry
- Turkish Stuffed Eggplant
Other posts have focused on eggplant cookbooks, posters and merchandise, as well as storage, basic nutrition info and what to look for when shopping for an organic eggplant.
Now, let’s add some science to our repertoire.
“Although you won’t find much vitamin C, A or folate in eggplant, it provides a good source of fiber, as well as disease-fighting phytochemicals,” says registered dietitian Karen Collins, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research. “In fact, an eggplant’s purple hue is the result of antioxidant anthocyanins—compounds that some researchers believe may play a role in preventing cancer.
“Additional antioxidant activity is evident once you slice an eggplant,” she continues. “The browning of the vegetable’s inner pulp shortly after you cut into it results from the reaction of eggplant’s phenolic compounds with oxygen. These powerful antioxidants act as scavengers and rid our bodies of the highly reactive free radicals that can damage our cells and promote cancer development and heart disease.
“Unfortunately, higher levels of these protective phytochemicals can make foods taste bitter,” she notes, “so researchers are developing new eggplant varieties which offer the best balance of protective phenols and good taste.”
Collins recommends low-fat preparations of this popular vegetable, which Thomas Jefferson first introduced to America.
“Grill, roast or broil it, rather than eating it breaded, fried or smothered in high-fat cheese,” she advises.
Read More:Eggplants & Cancer Prevention
June 29th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Yesterday’s blog entry featured a wonderful recipe for Turkish Stuffed Eggplant. If you’re in the market for additional resources, two cookbooks are specifically dedicated to this versatile fruit, which is now in season at your local natural and organic food store.
The clear winner is Essentially Eggplant, by Nina Kehayan, which offers a cultural history of its sometimes maligned subject, followed by a unique collection of recipes. Anyone for Eggplants with Gruyere and Ricotta, Spicy Eggplants with Salsa, Eggplant in Ginger Sauce, Turkish Fritters or Eggplant Tempura?
Our second pick is The Totally Eggplant Cookbook, by Helene Siegel—a steal at $5.95. It features 96 pages of roasted, stuffed, grilled, rolled, fried and baked French, Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Indian and Chinese recipes.
If you want to keep your kids reading this summer, order Susan Heyboer O’Keefe’s amusing romp, Death by Eggplant, about a boy who yearns to be a chef, but doesn’t want the world to know his “nerdy” secret.
Looking for a way to spruce up your organic kitchen? Check out artist Linda Montgomery’s lovely 12” x 10” Roasted Eggplant framed print and Elizabeth Berry’s famous Eggplant Poster.
And if you’re feeling hungry, La Favorita Italian Eggplant and Olive Cream Spread should satisfy your cravings. Imported from Italy, it’s made with all-natural ingredients.
Read More:Purple Prose
June 28th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Eggplant season has just begun, and you can enjoy this fruit (yes, it’s a fruit—not a vegetable!) through October. Monday’s blog entry covered organic eggplant basics: nutrition, shopping tips and preparation hints.
Today’s recipe features ingredients that can be easily found at your local natural and organic food store. If you have trouble finding organic eggplant, you may substitute organic zucchini or yellow squash.
Turkish Stuffed Eggplant
Makes 8 servings
Canola cooking spray
4 small eggplants, stems removed, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a large, shallow baking dish with canola spray.
Scoop out flesh from eggplants; cut into chunks and reserve. Lightly sprinkle inside of the shells with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place upside down on paper towels. Let stand 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, spray large skillet with cooking spray. Cook garlic and onion over medium-high heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, reserved eggplant flesh and allspice. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until just tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley, lemon juice, remaining salt and pepper.
Pat eggplant shells dry with paper towels. Spoon eggplant mixture loosely into shells. Place filled shells in prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until shells are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle tops evenly with feta cheese. Bake for 10 more minutes, then serve.
Nutrition information (per serving): 71 calories, 2 g total fat (1 g saturated fat), 12 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 5 g dietary fiber, 236 mg sodium.
Recipe and photo courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research
Read More:Turkish Stuffed Eggplant
June 26th, 2006 - Barbara Feiner
Just a few years ago, supermarket produce departments offered only one variety of eggplant: the large Black Beauty, with its familiar dark purple skin. Many tasters found it to be mealy and unappetizing, adding eggplant to their list of “hate it” foods.
Culinary times have changed. Walk into your local natural and organic food store and you’ll find a new breed of eggplants that are pleasing to the palate. Especially popular is the narrow Japanese (Oriental) eggplant, known for its sweetness and thinner skin. Italian (baby) eggplants resemble their larger purple cousins, but they’re smaller, with delicate flesh and skin. Thai eggplants are round and green (golf-ball size), often used in curry dishes and Asian soups. White eggplants are oval, with a bright green stem and heavy skin—ideal for steaming, broiling and baking.
One cup of cubed raw eggplant has:
- Only 25 calories
- No sodium, cholesterol or fat
- 2 grams of fiber
When shopping, look for:
- Firm, smooth, glossy skin (pass on those with dull skin)
- No scars, wrinkles, bruises, brown spots or soft spots
- Heavy for its size, which means it has a high moisture content
- Bright green stem (“calyx”)
- Store eggplants in a cool, dry place.
- Use within one to two days to avoid bitterness. Refrigerating them in a plastic bag may buy you a few extra days.
- Cut eggplants just before using, as their flesh discolors quickly. Use a stainless steel knife to prevent darkening.
- Don’t cook eggplant in aluminum pots or pans, which causes discoloration.
- You can bake, fry or broil eggplant. (Note: They will soak up oil, so be advised. Coating slices with crumbs can minimize fat absorption.)
- The skin is edible in young eggplants, and it’s high in fiber. Older ones should be peeled.
Sources: American Institute for Cancer Research, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, Inc.
Read More:Organic Eggplant