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Eggplant

Although it is commonly mistaken for a vegetable, the Eggplant is really a fruit belonging to the nightshade family (along with tomatoes, potatoes, chili peppers,etc). Eggplant is an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, which helps to remove toxins from the body, lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of colon cancer. It also contains high levels of potassium critical for heart and muscle function. Eating the fruit can reduce swelling, clear stagnant blood, reduce bleeding, comfort bleeding hemorrhoids, and treat dysentery. For frostbite, prepare a tea of eggplant, bring it to room temperature, and apply a compress to affected areas.

 The Egglplant‘s skin contains a powerful antioxidant called nasunin.  Nasunin helps to protect the lipids, which are found in the membranes of brain cells. This safeguards the cells from attacks by free radicals so that they can do the job they were meant to do.

 For people with arthritis and related problems of the bones and joints, some physicians suggest patients eliminate foods of the nightshade family. Because this food group contains solanine, a calcium inhibitor, consuming it can further enhance mineral imbalance and add to joint pain and swelling.

 

FUN FOOD FACT   China was growing eggplant in vegetable gardens from 500 BCE; however, they may not have considered it edible until the second century BCE. Before the fruit was accepted as an edible food, it was grown only for its appealing ornamental qualities. By the middle of the 1500's Southern Europe was introduced to the eggplant, but the meeting was not a friendly one at first. The strange fruit was thought to be dangerous. Eggplant's acceptance as an edible food came about a century later. The urban legend of the time was that eating eggplant caused fever and epilepsy.

 

Walbut Stuffed Eggplant

Yield: 4 hearty serving

2 1-pound eggplants (450g each)

1/2 pound (225g) tomatoes, chopped

1/4 pound (115g) cremini or button mushrooms, sliced



1 cup (240 ml) chopped onions

 
4 large cloves garlic, minced 


  2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 


  1 teaspoon salt


1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 


  Freshly ground black pepper

 
2/3 cup (160 ml) walnuts 


 1 6-ounce (170g) can tomato paste 


  3 heaping tablespoons capers

 Well drained 
2 to 3 small ripe tomatoes, sliced


Salt


 Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise, slicing through the stem end. Using a curved, serrated grapefruit knife, scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/4-inch (.5 cm) thick shell, and coarsely chop the flesh. Put the chopped eggplant into a large, deep skillet or flat bottom wok.

Rub the inside of the eggplant shells with a small amount of olive oil and place them on a baking sheet. Place the eggplant shells under the broiler and broil them 3 inches (7.5 cm) from the heat source for 5 to 10 minutes, until fork tender. Watch carefully to prevent burning. Remove the eggplant shells from the broiler and set them aside.

 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (Gas Mark 5). Add the chopped tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, garlic, olive oil, salt, cinnamon, and pepper to the skillet with the chopped eggplant, and cook and stir for 7 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Coarsely grind the walnuts in a nutmill and add them to the skillet along with the tomato paste and capers. Mix well.

Fill the eggplant shells with the vegetable mixture and top with tomato slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake, uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes. 

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