Nightshades have a bad rep: there are a lot of anecdotal references which claim that nightshade veggies such as eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes exacerbate joint inflammation due to their levels of alkaloids- which are naturally occurring chemicals produced by plants as primarily a means of self-defense from insects. There are a lot of members in the nightshade family but the most popular ones are the 3 noted above...
Generally, nightshades should probably be avoided by those who suffer from Gout- which is a type of Arthritis where uric acid builds up in the joints and causes pain, swelling and inflammation. However there is not an exact science; everybody is built differently and needless to say, some are more sensitive to certain food than others. The best way to test this is to add or remove items from his/her diet and be vigilantly observant of what changes ensue or not. There is such a thing as eating something every once in a while; that's generally the approach I regularly implement.
Here's what you don't know about this particular nightshade that I'm so intrigued by: Eggplant provides a rich source of folic acid and potassium- nutrients that are incidentally necessary for pregnant women. They contain a multitude of vitamins and phytonutrients, and are a major source of cardio-protective fiber, Vitamin C/K/B6 and folate- not to mention big time antioxidants which naturalize free radical activity in the body. All this to say that eggplant in all its nutrient-dense properties helps keep blood sugar in check, helps lower cholesterol levels, improves the flexibility of blood vessels, and aids in digestive function.
The makings of a saucy saute!
Here's what I whipped up with early-fall CSA bounty!
1/2 an Eggplant, sliced (reference 1st photo), then cut into bite size pieces
2 Organic Tomatoes, chopped
1 Organic Zucchini, chopped or spiralized (I did the latter and loved its noodly flair in this dish)
1/4 cup Fennel leaves
1 Shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Gluten-free Soy Sauce
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Sprinkles of Black Pepper
Optional: 1/2 cup Brown Rice OR 1- 8oz. Package of Quinoa Pasta (I mixed in some tri-color Quinoa Fusili into the mix last minute and loved it)
In a skillet, heat up 3 tablespoons of Grapeseed or Olive Oil for 3 minutes and throw in garlic and shallot/onion till onions are translucent. Throw in eggplant and tomatoes (AND zucchini- only if using them chopped; if using them as spiralized, throw in later); cover and let cook over low heat for 7-10 minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients: fennel leaves, salt, pepper, cayenne and soy sauce. Now is when you toss in spiralized zucchini (like I did above). Stop right here if you want to enjoy this as a saute- it's smoking good looking and yummy. To add a little more heartiness, serve with a side of cooked Brown Rice or throw in cooked pasta noodles like I did above; whether served with gluten-free carbo's or just alone, this is such a warm and winning Fall dish.
I just returned from more vacationing. Vacay this time around was nothing short of unforgettable because I spent a week at Burning Man with my wonderful bf and friends.. Making what one wants of it is what it's about. Numerous theories, rumors, and (good & bad) ideas exist surrounding the festival but suffice it to say that one must experience that ancient, sacred, dried-up lakebed for his/herself to truly judge...
My boyfriend (he was such a champ as a first time burner!) and I (second time burner) had an incredible time sharing in this experience with our amazing friends, a comfy camp and 50,000 or so others- disconnecting from encumbering real-worldliness. I'm still reeling, post-playa.
This morning, I took to a hearty, protein-rich breakfast of champions. It came together so nicely (and conveniently) because I had a bunch of ingredients left over from a bean salad I made the day before. Get this:
Susan's "Huevos Rancheros":
2-3 Farm Fresh Eggs
1 small tomato, chopped
1/4 cup cooked Quinoa
1/4 cup Organic Black beans
1 stalk celery, chopped (optional)
3 tablespoons crumbled Goat cheese (optional, or do non-goat if desired)
In a skillet, drop in 2 tablespoons of Grapeseed Oil over low heat. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients: eggs, chopped tomatoes, cheese, quinoa, beans and generous black pepper and sprinkles of sea salt.
Scramble over medium heat and serve with a gluten-free or whole wheat tortilla. Toasty Tortilla Tip!: place over your oven range fire for 5 seconds; flip sides. Repeat about 3 times until toasty looking. Be vigilant and don't walk away or it WILL burn.