What’s your child’s favorite vegetable? Carrots, corn, maybe celery stuffed with peanut butter? Those are all great vegetables, but a greater variety of veggies means a greater variety of nutrients. Let’s move a little further into the alphabet and bring home some eggplant!
Eggplants come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, so let your kids help choose the eggplant you cook. One cup of eggplant gives you three grams of fiber and one gram of protein, plus Vitamin K, copper, manganese, and flavonoids, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
If you were surprised by Vitamin K, that’s one reason it’s important to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. Each one has a different collection of nutrients to offer.
Kids usually like the looks of eggplants, but these beautiful relatives of the tomato have a couple of characteristics that may turn kids away. They’re bitter (though modern eggplant are bred for less bitterness) and the flesh is spongy. You can deal with these issues in your kitchen.
Peel the eggplant
The skin of the eggplant is particularly rich in antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and magnesium. However, some kids say it’s like eating ribbon. Start off with peeled eggplant. When it becomes a family favorite, gradually add some peel back in.
Soak the eggplant
Cut your eggplant up and soak it in salt water for 10-20 minutes. This pulls out any bitterness and also causes the little pockets in the flesh to collapse. That means your eggplant will be less spongy and will absorb less oil.
Add eggplant to familiar flavors
Eggplant Hamburger Hash
1 lb ground beef
1 small or medium eggplant, cut into 1 inch dice
3 potatoes, cut into 1 inch dice
1 small onion, minced
(optional) 1 green pepper, minced
Boil the potatoes for 10 minutes. Soak the eggplant in salt water while the potatoes cook. Drain both the potatoes and the eggplant.
Meanwhile, cook the beef and onions over medium heat till the beef is browned. Add potatoes and eggplants, as well as the green pepper, if desired.
When potatoes begin to brown, remove the hash from the heat and serve with ketchup or hot sauce, as desired.
This is a quick and kid-friendly lunch, and most kids won’t distinguish the eggplant from the potatoes. Fruit salad makes a great accompaniment.
Roast the eggplant
After peeling and soaking the eggplant, lay the pieces on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until the flesh begins to brown. You can enjoy it right out of the oven as a side dish for meat or fish.
You can also make a famous Middle Eastern dip, Baba Ganoush. Just toss the roasted eggplant into your blender or food processor with 1/4 c. each
- olive oil
- lemon juice
1 pressed clove of garlic makes it especially delicious, but you know your kids. Blend the dip smooth and serve with carrot sticks and pita chips.