Next up on the Faccia Bella Recipe Series for beautiful skin and a healthy heart is my HEALTHY stuffed eggplant recipe. Growing up, my mom would bake up her mouth watering stuffed eggplant that my taste buds would give a standing ovation, but suffice it to say that my waistline did not. I decided to take this tasty lunch or dinner recipe and revise it to meet healthy standards, while maintaining the taste! When you’re messing with a favorite family recipe it makes one a little nervous, well it made me a little nervous anyway, but I am super excited to report that it did NOT disappoint and I will likely pass this version down to my kiddos (BTW, my seven and ten year old indulged with me and gave it a thumbs up!)
Healthy Stuffed Eggplant with Cracked Freekeh
(Gluten Free, Casein Free options included)
2 tablespoon of Cento Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ pound of Butterball Ground Turkey (it’s gluten free)
Salt to taste (don’t over do this as Eggplant is a natural source of sodium)
3 Garlic cloves minced
1 red pepper medium diced
3 scallions finely chopped
5 Basil leaves finely chopped
1 tablespoons of fresh Oregano finely chopped
2 tablespoons of Parmesan (replace with Daiya ¼ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese, which is gluten, casein, and soy free)
½ cup of dry Organic Cracked Freekeh Natures Earthly Choice (Brown rice for Gluten free option)
Start boiling 1 ¼ cup of water for the Cracked Freekeh
Half the eggplant, slice up and across the inner portion creating cubes, then scoop out, BUT be sure to leave enough meat inside the plant to hold the stuffing and its shape.
Add ½ cup Cracked Freekeh to boiling water, cover with lid, lower heat, and simmer for about 7-10-minutes (if you use brown rice for gluten free option follow boxed directions for type chosen, but I recommend using instant for quickness.)
Mix the eggplant cubes, red bell peppers, 2 cloves of garlic, basil, oregano, salt to taste, and scallions, then sauté with olive oil for about 3-5 minutes, remove from pan, but leave a remnant of oil and juice.
In this same pan add the ground turkey to the oil/juice remnant, cooking until lightly browned (NO PINK.)
Next add the cooked veggies, Freekeh, and cheese, mix well and sauté’ for about 1 minute.
Fill each half of eggplant with the stuffing, oil the pan, and bake it for 30 minutes at 375 F.
Sprinkle with freshly chopped basil and enjoy!
Based on 1 serving
Dish w/ Cracked Freekeh contains 357.5 calories, 31 g of protein, 16.5 g of fat (12.5g of mono and polyunsaturated, 4 saturated, 0 transfat), 6 g of fiber
Dish w/brown rice contains 302.5 calories, 25 g of protein, same fat as above, and 3 g of fiber
Casein free option cheese value (22.5 calories, 0.25g protein, 1.5 g fat)
It is a good to very good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, Riboflavin, Niacin, Zinc, Phosphorous, Iron, Calcium, and Selenium, Anti-oxidants, Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids.
More Awesome: The ingredients include anti-inflammatory qualities, which have endless benefits, Collagen boosting effects, which improves the look of the skin, and healthy brain and behavioral function. According to whfoods.com, “Research on eggplant has focused on an anthocyanin phytonutrient found in eggplant skin called nasunin. Nasunin is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage.” Also, they state that the antioxidant found in eggplant, known as chlorogenic acid, benefits include antimutagenic (anti-cancer), antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol), lowering cholesterol, and antiviral activities.
(Note: There is cholesterol in the ground turkey, roughly 80mg, which is approx. 26% of the daily value, so within the allotted range allowed. Using ground turkey vs. 80% lean ground beef saves approx. 81 calories and has ½ the amount of saturated fat!)
For more heart and skin healthy recipes check out our Shrimp Scampi with Farro or Quinona.
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Courtney Smith RN BSN
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