September is perhaps one of the best produce months because we have the overlap of the end of the summer leaves, squashes, and cruciferous vegetables and the fall roots and squashes. Among the new plants we can eat fresh are eggplants (aka, aubergine, brinjal, bengan, elabatu).
Like other purple and red skinned produce, it is loaded with antioxidants. It is also high in fiber so it cleanses the digestive tract and is rich in Vitamin C and its skin is tauted as a excellent for the skin because it protects cells from inflammation. (See Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles by Allison Tannis)
Eggplants hold a special place in women’s health. Traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda recommended eating it if you want to bring on menstruation. For some, it works just by eating it once or twice. For others, it may take regular consumption to have an effect. (For more reading on this, see Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford and The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Michael Tierra.)
Some but not all practitioners believe that eggplant is best avoided if you have painful cramps, once your period starts, and during pregnancy. If you have questions as to whether it is right for you, as always, consult a natural health practitioner such as an acupuncturist, Ayurvedic healer, or integrative doctor. (If you would like recommendations in NYC, let me know.) This is also not to say that eating eggplant will cause a miscarriage. If you have made the choice to terminate a pregnancy, eating eggplant may not be the solution you are looking for. Feel free to contact me if this is an area where you would like support.
Eggplants are especially delicious roasted but if you’re not ready to turn your oven on just yet, here is a simple stovetop side-dish that includes cumin seeds which are a great source of iron according to one of my favorite sites, The World’s Healthiest Foods. The iron in cumin is helpful for building blood and thus helpful support before, during, and after menstruation. ¡Buen apetito!
- If you have a hard time digesting peels and/or you really do not like to eat the peel, peel the eggplant. Otherwise, just peel off a few strips and leave some of the peel on to gain from the antioxidants in the purple shell.
- Dice small-ish eggplant into 1-inch cubes, about 2 cups
- SIDENOTE: Many culinary traditions recommend salting eggplant before cooking in order to reduce the bitter taste as well as oil absorption. For the purposes of using eggplant as a healing food, consider NOT salting the eggplant as salt can inhibit circulation and the purpose of cooking this superfruit is to improve blood circulation.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of the oil of your choice over low heat. (Extra virgin olive oil, ghee, or untoasted sesame oil are my favorites for this dish.)
- Add 3/4 Tbsp cumin seeds and ½ Tbsp crushed, dried rosemary in a sauté pan or wok and toast until fragrant, about 5 mins.
- Add eggplant to the sauté pan, coating the egpplant well in the oil and fragrants.
- Cover and sauté over low heat, approximately 15 minutes, tossing regularly until the eggplant are tender and a fork easily goes through and each piece is brown.
- If you have not eaten much salt or salty (often prepared) food that day and you generally do not have issues with blood pressure or blood flow issues, add a pinch or two of salt in the middle of cooking.
- Serve with a sturdier whole grain like millet or brown rice or fish. Click here to download the latest guide and app to determine which fishes are sustainable and healthy.