Eggplant

Health Wellness

I didn’t learn to appreciate eggplants until my 30’s. My initial exposure to eating eggplant was in heavier dishes, such as eggplant parmesan or moussaka. I wasn’t able to recognize or appreciate the flavor until trying baba ganoush. It took me awhile to experiment with making and cooking eggplant dishes, but now I try to make something with eggplant about twice a month when they are in season.

A kin to the tomato, bell pepper and potato, the eggplant is a nightshade that grows hanging from the vines of a plant. It is technically a fruit but is classified as a vegetable. The eggplant tastes bitter and slightly sweet (but it slows the absorption of blood sugar and is a useful regulator of glucose and insulin activity in the body.) Ayurveda considers it as heating. Chinese medicine considers it to be cooling (clearing heat) and to remove blood stagnation.

As for nutrients, eggplants are an overall source of many vitamins and minerals. They contain fiber, folate, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, copper, thiamin, niacin, magnesium, and vitamins C, K and B6. Eggplants are also loaded with antioxidants, which are known to help defend a variety of diseases and conditions. One study found that eggplant skin is loaded with a potent phytonutrient and antioxidant called nasusin, which is an antioxidant that protects brain cells from free radicals and damage.

While eggplants contain decent amount of fiber, for some eggplants can irritate the digestive tract and are recommended to reduce or avoid if you have GI tract inflammation.

Tomatoes

Health Wellness

There are different philosophies on tomatoes. Here is a brief summary. Ayurveda (but not all Ayurvedic nutritionists) advises not eating them, since the cause toxic build-up and stimulate heat and desire. Chinese medicine claims tomatoes can cool the blood on hot days. Those in the Mediterranean embrace the tomato, where apparently in the northern part of Europe the tomato is considered by some to be poisonous. Take your pick.

 

Tomatoes are acidic, meaning they are stimulating and sour. To some, tomatoes can irritate the digestive tract and are recommended to avoid if you have GI tract inflammation. These irritating qualities can be enhanced when cooked or sun-dried, since the flavors become more pungent and hot. The tomato flesh in general is easy to digest, and the seeds and skins can be irritating for some.

As for nutritional value, tomatoes have a high concentration of the antioxidant lycopene. It also has high levels of potassium and vitamins C, K and A, along with others.

I personally embrace them, but also eat them in balanced quantities. Tomatoes can aggravatePitta in the digestive tract. However, their cooling properties are refreshing on warm days. My personal favorite is the Early Girl tomato. I don’t have a problem grabbing and taking a bite in Early Girl tomatoes. They are juicy and have a sweetness that makes my mouth water.

Yogi Likes to Cook

Yogi Likes to Cook

Inspiration Nourish Recipe

I like to cook. When I get or make the time, cooking is a cathartic experience for me. When I’m motivated or inspired, I look in the fridge to see what I have, or think about for what I’m in the mood. Sometimes I follow straight from the recipe; sometimes I change ingredients or steps based on experience; and sometimes I follow a desirable color palette. Grazing through cookbooks or magazines of various cuisines and diets, and even online, I begin to anticipate what may be created next. I also love excursions to the grocery store or farmers market, seeing what’s fresh and in season to determine what colorful dish can be prepared.

I think my cooking interest really began in my early 30’s while living in Seattle. I had a group of friends, some who cooked and some who just enjoyed food. When I met my husband he worked in the service industry and also enjoyed cooking, and the foodie adventures continued. Including the major holidays, dinner parties, barbeques, restaurant excursions and take-away gatherings were the norm. My favorite experiences, and most of the time the dishes, were prepared at each other’s homes. I loved having themes and searching for new things to cook. I even enjoyed the challenge of meeting everyone’s dietary restrictions and preferences. Well, almost always…

Some of my more recent curiosities were inspired by a vegetarian cookbook full of international recipes, which was referenced in a book about Ayurveda. That led me to dig deeper with Sachi Doctor, an Ayurvedic practitioner based in San Francisco. Sachi has taught me to understand how to eat (and live) in a way that is more aligned with my mind-body constitution (dosha) and with the seasons. Thinking about reviving the group meal experience and combining it with my passions for teaching and cooking, Sachi and I collaborated to teach workshops that applied Ayurvedic principles on the mat and in the kitchen. Our next endeavors are in the works, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, I plan to share my own experiences in the kitchen. Here’s a tasty salad idea that I created for Summer/Spring.

 

Vibrant Quinoa Salad

Combine the following chopped herbs in food processor with 1/3 cup or more olive oil. Add lemon or vinegar if desired,

  • 1 bunch cilantro
, packed
  • 1/2 cup parsley
, loose
  • 1/4 cup each dill, mint & tarragon

Mix with the following:

  • 2 cups (more/less as desired) cooked quinoa
  • small sautéed onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 to 1 serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • generous handful of arugula, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste; I also added cumin
  • feta, optional

If you don’t like the taste of tarragon, you could skip it or experiment with another herb…basil, sorrel, lemon thyme.

Enjoy!

xo,

Julie