Food & Drink

Stir crazy:Pasture eggs and eggplant dish will suit your health

Better for you Eggplant Parmesan.
Better for you Eggplant Parmesan.

I was out at a great farm Saturday with a fun name, the Green Finned Hippy Tilapia Farm & Quality Produce. It’s in Pocahontas and does a good business with a variety of pasture-fed animals and products. One of owners Josh and Alicia Davis’ biggest sellers is eggs.

Free -range or pasture eggs, where the chickens can roam and forage, are better for you (and taste so much better) than store-bought, commercially produced eggs for so many reasons. Here are a few:

They have one-third of the cholesterol and one-fourth of the saturated fats.

Twice as much omega-3 fatty acids.

Three times more vitamin E.

Seven times more pro-vitamin A beta carotene.

Other tests have demonstrated that pastured eggs have up to six times more essential vitamin D than regular supermarket eggs. They have also been shown to have significantly more B vitamins than a factory egg.

One of the best places to buy free-range eggs is at local farmers markets. I paid $4 for the dozen I bought. At the supermarket, they were $3.75. I think the extra quarter was worth it.

EGG OF ANOTHER SORT: I’m a fan of eggplant, and my favorite way to prepare it is Eggplant Parmesan.

Unfortunately, it’s typically a high-fat dish that involves slicing, breading and frying the eggplant before covering it in cheese and red sauce and baking it. I make it just a few times a year, and then only when I can get eggplant from a local garden.

I was excited when I found a leaner version that broils the eggplant, for a significant fat and calorie savings. An added benefit is that it takes less time to prepare, too.

If you have to buy eggplant from the store, here’s what to look for: Male eggplants have fewer seeds than the female variety does. Because these seeds are bitter, male eggplants are preferred. You can spot male eggplants because they have a rounder, smoother blossom end or base.

Here is the recipe from Betty Crocker.

Eggplant Parmesan

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices (1 1/2 pounds)

Cooking spray

1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup bread crumbs, any flavor

2 teaspoons olive or vegetable oil

1 cup spaghetti sauce

1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)

1. Set oven control to broil. Generously spray both sides of each eggplant slice with cooking spray. Place on a rack in a broiler pan. Broil with tops 4 to 5 inches from heat about 10 minutes, turning once, until tender.

2. While eggplant is broiling, mix Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs; toss with oil.

3. Heat spaghetti sauce in 1-quart saucepan over medium heat about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.

4. Sprinkle 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese over eggplant slices, still on rack. Spoon bread crumb mixture over cheese. Broil about 1 minute more, or until cheese is melted and crumbs are brown.

5. Remove to serving dish or plate and top eggplant with spaghetti sauce and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.

Makes 6 servings, each with 195 calories, 10 grams fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 480 mg sodium, 18 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 11 grams protein. Exchanges:1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 1/2 high-fat meat,1 fat.

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