There they are, sitting in the produce department, daring you to pick one up. And figure out what the heck to do with it. Surely, they’re good for you, right? They are vegetables after all, and vibrantly purple. Eggplants. It’s what’s for dinner this week.
Recipe of the Week: Simple Grilled Eggplants
- 3 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3 tablespoons coarse salt, plus more for serving
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- Set eggplant slices out and spinkle with salt on both sides. Move slices to a colancer and set over a bowl…allow to drain for 1 hour. Discard any liquid and rince eggplace slices under cold running water. Place on a few layers of paper towels and press any remaining water out.
- Preheat grill over medium-high heat. Generously brush both sides of eggplant slices with olive oil. Then, sprinkle both side with pepper.
- Place on grill, and cook until browned, about 5-6 minutes on first side. Flip eggplant slices, and cook until browned on opposite side. Remove from heat, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle on salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot.
Eggplants may not be everyone’s go-to vegetable. But like other vibrantly colorful whole foods, they have a lot to offer nutritionally, especially in fighting free radicals. And guess what – endurance athletes need free radical fighters. Serve up eggplant this week, and you’ll get a Powerhouse of antioxidants:
- Anthocyanins: These phytonutrients are found in the eggplant’s skin, and are responsible for the dark purple color (similar to red grapes and red cabbage). One specific anthocyanin, nasunin, is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage, especially the fats in brain cells. These fatty membranes are responsible for monitoring what comes in and out of these cells…a very important function, especially for a brainy athlete, like yourself.
- Whole Body Oxidative Stress Reduction: Beyond the brain, nasunin, Chlorogenic acid. and eggplant’s other antioxidants reduce free radical formation with numerous beneficial results, including protecting blood cholesterol (which is also a type of lipid or fat) from peroxidation; preventing cellular damage that can promote cancer; and lessening free radical damage in joints, which is a primary factor in rheumatoid arthritis.
- Cholesterol Reducers: If you’ve got high “bad” LDL cholesterol, there are good reasons to eat eggplants. In animal studies, eggplant juice (sounds yummy, right?) has lowered bad cholesterol in the blood, in the artery walls (this is where it forms plagues), and in the aorta (you know, just the artery that returns blood from the heart back into cirulation). I’ll take some eggplant, and blood and arteries free from oxidized cholesterol plagues.
Bonus: Reduce Free Radicals after Working Out
There’s no better time to pump up the antioxidant intake than immediately after a workout (you’ve got extra free radicals floating around looking to damage your cells after working out). This is one reason I recommend whole-food recovery over processed bars, drinks, or convenience foods, when possible. This week, try adding some raw eggplant to your perfect recovery smoothie.
Mix 1 cup berries or pitted cherries, 1/2 cup diced eggplant (skin-on), 1 cup plain yogurt (or ½ cup Greek yogurt or 1 scoop protein powder), ½ Tbsp organic coconut oil, 1 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbps almond butter. Blend until desired consistency, adding water and/or ice as needed.
Free radicals, beware! This week, eggplant’s potent antioxidants are going to deliver a cellular smack-down. That’s all.
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