By Dr. Mercola
If you love shepherd’s pie or any similar dish, I’m sure that you will love moussaka. This dish is made through layers of choice potatoes, zucchini, or eggplant, combined with a spicy meat mixture, and then baked with a butter sauce on top.1
Imagine the creamy goodness of the buttery crust and biting into the baked filling – this healthy Eggplant Moussaka recipe is perfect for cold nights or anytime you’re looking for a heartwarming dish:
- 2 eggplants, sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 pound ground chicken (pasture raised) or ground turkey
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ¼ cup red wine
- ¼ cup water
- 1 egg, beaten¼ cup Gruyere cheese, grated
- ¼ cup bread crumbs from spelt or other wheat-free bread
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour
- 1½ cups warm milk
- 2 egg yolks
- Slice eggplant into ½ inch slices; salt, cover, and set aside. Sauté the ground meat in coconut oil until browned. Add onion, jalapeno, tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, wine, and water.
- Simmer until liquid is absorbed. Stir in egg, cheese, and half the bread crumbs. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- To prepare sauce, melt 3 tablespoons butter on low heat. Add flour, stir, and remove from heat. Stir in milk—return to heat. Cook sauce till thick, add salt, and pepper. Combine egg yolks with a little of the sauce, and then stir into the rest of the sauce mixture. Cook for 2 minutes on low heat.
- Brown eggplant slices on both sides in hot oil. Grease casserole dish. Sprinkle bottom with remaining bread crumbs, cover with layer of eggplant, then a layer of meat. Keep going until all slices are used. Finish with eggplant and cover with sauce, sprinkle with grated cheese and bake for 1 hour at 350°F.
(Adapted from Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type)
Eggplant Moussaka Cooking Tips
When choosing the right eggplant, look for those with the right length and circumference. The perfect size is about the dimension of a large pear. The smaller ones are preferred for cooking since they tend to taste less bitter and have fewer seeds, which are also edible.
Using a ceramic knife when cutting the vegetable is better as compared to carbon steel knife, as it might transform the eggplant to black. It can also react with the phytonutrients of the vegetable.
One way of reducing the innate bitterness of eggplant is by “sweating” the fruit. Simply sprinkle it with salt and let it rest for 15 minutes. This method will also reduce its oil absorption when cooking.2
Do not buy eggplants that are bruised, withered, and discolored. The vegetable must have a strong purple color, and appear to be smooth and glossy. Store eggplant in the refrigerator until ready to use, keeping the skin intact to prevent from spoiling quickly.
Why Is Eggplant Moussaka Good for You?
Moussaka is loaded with nutrients and vitamins that are sure to boost your health, such as:
Scientists have discovered that the Black Magic variety of this vegetable contains three times more phenolics than those found in usual eggplants. Phenolics are antioxidants, which are responsible for preventing free radical damage in your cells.
A tonic made from boiling eggplant roots and leaves can be good for stomach and throat troubles. It also works great for rheumatism, inflammation, intestinal bleeding, foot pain, coughs, toothache, and skin diseases.
A study3 showed that eggplant contains nasunin, which is an anthocyanin phytonutrient that can help prevent damage to brain cell membranes. Additionally, you can reap more benefits by eating its skin, which contains fiber, potassium, and magnesium.4
You should avoid pasteurized or processed cheese and instead, choose raw cheese that is produced from the milk of grass-fed animals.
Raw milk cheese contains different nutrients and vitamins such as vitamins K2, A, D, B2, B12, zinc, and phosphorus. It also provides omega-3 fats, high-quality protein, and amino acids.
As much as possible, avoid buying chicken raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) because they pose a lot of health risks. Choose pasture-raised chickens that are fed their natural diet such as green plants, seeds, insects, and worms produce bright orange yolks.
According to a 2007 egg-testing project,5 pasture-raised chicken contains two-thirds more vitamin A, two times more omega-3 fats, three times more vitamin E, and seven times more beta-carotene. Chicken is also a great source of B vitamins, selenium, phosphorus, and choline.
Tomatoes, when cooked, offer more vitamins and minerals than raw. Cooking tomatoes increase their lycopene content and antioxidant activity. Organic tomatoes are still your best choice, but if you intend to buy from the grocery, make sure that it’s in a jar, and not canned.
Can liners contain BPA, which is an endocrine-disrupting chemical. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that the safe limit of BPA is 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight. However, when a tin can contains acidic food like tomatoes, it can bring more BPA to your food.
I encourage you to grow your own tomatoes to ensure they’re organic. In fact, PLOS ONE published a study stating that organic tomatoes have 55 percent more vitamin C and a 139 percent higher phenolic content.6
Moreover, tomatoes are proven to have healthy benefits for you. A 2012 analysis showed that lycopene can minimize your stroke risk. It has been suggested before that the antioxidant activity of lycopene is more potent than that of other carotenoids like beta-carotene.7
Lycopene is also shown to potentially help reduce cancer activity in the body. Studies have revealed that eating tomato-based products may give protection against prostate cancer in men and ovarian cancer in postmenopausal women.8,9