Healthy ingredients: Amazing Aubergine

Aubergine, also known as eggplant in the USA, is a species of nightshade. This deep purple, shiny vegetable not only looks pretty and tastes great, it also counts as one of your five-a-day and is loaded with health benefits. Aubergines are very low in calories, with just 24 calories per 100g serving, and they're also low in fat whilst being rich in soluble fibre, making them a healthy choice (1). Aubergines have the potential to lower cholesterol due to an antioxidant called nasunin that's present in the vegetable's flesh. Nasunin can promote healthy brain function and is also helpful in moving excess iron out of your body. Aubergines are recommended if you are trying to lose weight or if you have type 2 diabetes (2), and they taste pretty amazing!

Choosing aubergines

When shopping for aubergines, look for shiny, smooth vegetables with skin that is free of bruises and scars. Make sure you check the cap and stem too - these shouldn't be discoloured. Test the aubergine's ripeness by gently pressing the skin with your thumb. If it's ripe, it should spring back straightaway; if not, an indentation will remain. Aubergines are perishable, so it's best to store them in a plastic bag in your fridge and eat within a few days.

Recipe ideas

You can make loads of delicious, healthy vegetarian and meat-packed recipes with aubergines, so here are a few ideas to inspire you to cook with this versatile vegetable.

Aubergine and Chickpea Curry

This spicy vegetarian curry is loaded with protein from the chickpeas and fibre from the aubergines, with antioxidant-packed fresh tomatoes and a creamy coconut sauce. It's super-easy to whip up at home, and serve with wholemeal pitta bread or brown rice for a light, healthy dinner.

Smoky Aubergine and Coriander Dip

Thanks to their creamy flesh, aubergines blend beautifully for a dip that's loaded with goodness. Chargrilling the aubergines until the skins are black gives this dip its delicious, smoky flavour that's quite addictive. Add Greek yoghurt, coriander, heart-healthy olive oil and garlic with a squeeze of lemon juice for an amazing dip that tastes great with veggies to dip or some pitta bread.

Italian Stuffed Aubergines

If you're bored with stuffed peppers and wondering what to serve your veggie guests, this stuffed aubergine dish is perfect. It also makes a great post-workout meal that's simple to prepare. Why not take leftovers to work for lunch? Filled with Mediterranean goodness, you'll find tomatoes, olive oil, olives, mozzarella cheese, basil and immune-boosting garlic and onions inside a delicious aubergine. Perfect!

Moroccan Aubergine and Chickpea Salad

Aubergines and chickpeas are a match made in heaven, and in this salad they're given subtle Moroccan flavourings thanks to a dressing of honey, paprika, cumin, lemon juice and olive oil. If you're a meat-eater, this would be delicious served as a side dish for lamb or chicken - or simply serve with cous cous if you're veggie.

Aubergine Parmigiana

Parmigiana is a popular Italian dish - a roasted vegetable gratin with a rich tomato and basil sauce that's baked in the oven. Sort of like a pasta-free lasagne! Antioxidants from the tomatoes and roasted aubergine make this a super-healthy meal that doesn't take long to prepare. Keep leftovers in the fridge to reheat after a workout.

Lamb with Baba Ganoush

This impressive recipe uses loin of lamb, which is the perfect partner to flavour-filled baba ganoush, a popular middle-eastern dip made with aubergines, lemon, olive oil, parsley, tahini and chilli powder - make it as mild or as spicy as you can handle! Served with green beans, this is a great, healthy alternative to a traditional Sunday roast that everyone will love.

The Ultimate Moussaka

Moussaka is probably one of the most popular, and best known Greek dishes and it's good for you too! Using 5% fat minced beef cuts the fat content considerably, with low-fat Greek yoghurt mixed with cornflour, eggs and a little parmesan to create a creamy topping that's healthier than traditional recipes. We love this lighter take on a classic recipe.

Aubergine and Goats Cheese Salad

A delicious main course salad with a mint and chilli dressing, this has just 262 calories per serving, so it's a great lunchtime dish if you're watching your weight! Creamy goats cheese and tomatoes complement the smoky aubergine perfectly.

Aubergine Coconut Curry with Lemongrass

When cooked slowly, aubergine absorbs the flavours surrounding it, which is why this creamy curry is so tasty! Coconut milk, lemongrass, Thai fish sauce, chilli and tumeric add Thai flavour to the aubergines - this has to be one of our favourite vegetarian curry recipes, as once you buy the storecupboard ingredients, you can whip it up whenever you like just by picking up some fresh aubergines! You could even use Thai eggplants for an authentic flavour!

Aubergine and Tofu Stir-Fry

Asian aubergine and tofu stir-fry can be found on the menu at many Chinese restaurants, and this recipe lets you whip up your own version of the takeaway classic at home! With 523 calories per serving, this is a great alternative to your weekend takeaway, and it's loaded with flavour from the sweet, sticky hoisin sauce, chilli and rice vinegar. Guilt-free Chinese food is just a few minutes away!

Next time you're doing your weekly shop, add a couple of aubergines to your trolley - they're so versatile that they can be used to create all these amazing dishes and more!

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Author By Paula Beaton
Date On 27th Jan 2015 at 16:05

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