Colours don’t just make our food look more appealing but also play a vital role in a healthy diet. Thus, the more colours in our diet, the healthier we will be.
Eating fruits and vegetables of different colours provide important vitamins, minerals, fibre and natural plant compounds known as, phytochemicals, that may help protect us from major diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Dr. David Heber, author of “What Color is Your Diet?” and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, recommends a diet with fruits and vegetables across the spectrum of color. (Source: CBS News)
You may sometimes have difficulty in getting the right balance but you definitely can’t go wrong if you eat a combination of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day – they can be fresh, frozen, canned or dried. This is the approach I always follow since I started to plan my family’s meals.
Other reading reference: fruit and vegetable benefits
Eggplant (also known as brinjals / aubergine) falls into the purple colour group. Even though purple is my son’s favourite colour, he had not shown much interest in eggplant dishes. Recently I found an eggplant recipe which I used to successfully convince my son to enjoy eggplants, without having to camouflage the eggplants in my cooking. This method gave the cooked eggplants a crunchier texture and more tasty with the coating of a thickened sweet and sauce sauce. I had modified the recipe by adding minced meat, onion and spring onion, thus giving this dish a more enhanced flavour and wholesome value. If your child doesn’t like to eat soggy eggplants, this is another highly recommended recipe you can opt for.
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Recipe adapted and modified from The Sugar Bar.
2-3 Japanese eggplants or 1 local eggplant
60g minced meat
¼ onion (chopped)
Sesame seeds and spring onions for garnishing (optional)
Cooking sauce (mix all the ingredients together):
3 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet wine)
3 tbsp light soya sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
3 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
- Marinate minced meat with a dash of light soya sauce, sugar and cornflour for at least half an hour.
- Slice eggplants lengthwise and immediately soak in salted water (about 20 minutes), drain and pat dry with kitchen towel. Set aside.
- Prepare the cooking sauce.
- Heat wok with oil. Pan-fry the eggplants until they are lightly brown and cooked but not too soft. Dish up and set aside.
- Heat wok with oil again. Sauté onion until slightly brown and fragrant. Add in marinated minced meat. Do not stir fry immediately. Let it cook for a while until it is slightly caramelized. Turn it over and break it slightly. Let it cook for a while until caramelized. This will increase the aroma of the minced meat. Reduce the heat to low and start breaking up into small piece. (I learnt the tip here)
- Return the cooked eggplants into the wok and mix well.
- Reduce the heat and add in the cooking sauce. If it starts bubbling furiously, lower heat again. Let it simmer until all the cooking sauce is thickened and absorbed into the eggplants.
- Dish up. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and spring onions. Serve with rice.
- If the eggplants turn soggy before the sauce is properly thickened, dish up the eggplants and minced meat. Leave the remaining sauce in the wok and continue to simmer until it is thickened. Pour the sauce over the dish.
- Most eggplants can be eaten either with or without their skin. Thus, I personally prefer to retain the skin during cooking because the eggplant skin contains an anthocyanin phytonutrient called nasunin. (note: nasunin is a potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps protect cell membranes from damage). (Source: WHFoods)
- Soaking eggplants in salted water is to reduce its naturally bitter taste.