The question of ‘How many carbs in eggplant?’ sparked a creative session in my kitchen that produced what Pedro calls the ‘world’s best eggplant parmesan.’ True eggplant parmesan connoisseurs might scoff at my creative endeavor, but I can eat it with impunity because it fits perfectly with a ketogenic diet. I’ve discovered that self-care involves using our artistic creativity to make small changes with big results.
“I’m taking the applicant out to eat at Mesa Italian Restaurant,” Pedro said. “Did you want to come with us, or is Italian food too high-carb?”
His question sparked an instant craving for eggplant parmesan, one of the few Italian dishes that I love.
“It’s the keto dieter’s Friday the Thirteenth,” I quipped. “I’ll pass this time.” I decided that perhaps I could invent my own version of a keto-friendly eggplant parmesan. The next day, armed with an eggplant, tomato sauce, portabella mushrooms, onions, and spices, I set out to create a keto-friendly eggplant parmesan dish.
After all, the art of eating healthier includes discovering creative ways to make foods we already love healthier for our hearts and our bodies. Of course, once I looked at the cheesy results of my kitchen art, I had misgivings. How could so much cheese benefit me, I wondered.
For years, I believed the ‘low-fat diet is good for you’ fad. While I never went so far as to purchase low-fat cheese (ick), I did limit my intake of cheese. Everyone knows it drips with fat. When I started eating a vegetarian keto diet in May, I had a fair share of relearning to do.
The Dirt on Cheese
In fact, cheese consumption has two things going for it that other animal fats don’t. It contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Scientists have discovered that CLA helps humans lose a modest amount of body fat . Go figure. Eat fat to lose weight.
Spritzler also says that.
Contrary to popular belief, cheese won't kill you. Check out this eggplant parmesan recipe today! #meatlessmonday #ketofriendly #selfcare Click To Tweet
Cheese is high in saturated fat, but it hasn’t been shown to increase the risk of heart disease. In fact, some studies suggest that cheese may help protect against heart diseaseFranziska Spritzler, RD, CDE
The Carbs in Eggplant
Another concern I had about my keto-friendly eggplant parmesan invention concerned the number of carbs in eggplant. I went to my go-to carb-checking app, Fat Secret, and discovered that one cup of uncooked eggplant has a little under two net carbs. Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and zucchini all have low net-carb counts, too, so I made sure to incorporate them into the dish.
You might wonder why I didn’t just look for an existing eggplant parmesan recipe. Good question. I have a habit of eating something and wanting the challenge of making it at home without the benefit of a recipe. You could call it my need for artistic expression, I suppose.
I had a vague idea that to make eggplant parmesan, one has to bread and fry the eggplant. Growing up, when my mom made gluten steaks, she always dipped them in a beaten egg first, before dredging them through the breading mix. Bingo! An egg only has one carb.
The last step in my creation involved creating a breading mix without the usual bread, flour, or cornmeal that traditional breading mixes use. I rummaged through my cupboards until I found the lowest-carb ingredients, and voila! The birth of a keto-friendly eggplant parmesan!
I even let Pedro try it, and he declared it the best eggplant parmesan he’s ever had. He even mentioned that Chef Ramsay would rave over it. Not a bad compliment coming from an avowed eggplant hater!Print
You’ll love this hearty, keto-friendly eggplant parmesan packed with good-for-you veggies and cheeses. The rest of your family will love it, too (if you’re kind enough to share it with them). Hide the leftovers!
1 can of tomato sauce (15 oz)
1 cup zucchini, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp basil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1 egg, beaten
pinch of salt
1 medium eggplant, sliced in 1/2-inch rounds
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup hemp hearts (blend into a powder)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. sage
2 tsp pepper flakes
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
8 slices of Provolone cheese
Chop the zucchini, onion and mushrooms while you heat the 1/2 Tbs. of olive oil in a small, heavy saucepan. Crush the garlic. Sauté the vegetables and garlic until they appear limp, then add the spices and tomato sauce and let simmer while you prepare the eggplant.
In a gallon resealable bag, crack the egg and add a pinch of salt. Squish the egg around until the yolk and white mix. Wash the eggplant and remove the stem and trim off the other end. Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch rounds and drop them in the bag with the egg. Shake well.
Start heating a tablespoon (or more, to taste) of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan.
Mix the breading ingredients in a large plastic container with a tight-fitting seal and shake to mix. Add the egg-covered eggplant rounds to the container of breading mix and shake well. You’ll have enough ‘breading’ mix left over to make another eggplant parmesan dish, or to bread other vegetarian meats.
Fry the breaded eggplant rounds in the frying pan, turning them when they look golden. The ‘breading’ mix won’t stick perfectly to the eggplant, but that’s o.k.
Assembling the Dish
Spray an 8X8 baking dish with cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the dish with a thin layer of sauce, and arrange the fried eggplant rounds on the bottom of the pan. Add two Tablespoons of parmesan cheese and four slices of Provolone cheese. Spread another layer of sauce, place another layer of eggplant, parmesan, and provolone. Finish with the remaining sauce and sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan.
Cover with aluminum foil and Bake at ˚350 for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until the cheese on top looks nicely browned.
Net Carbs: 6.5
- Category: entree
- Method: bake
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: eggplant parmesan,keto-friendly,entree,low-carb,healthy,main dish,aubergine parmigiana,ketogenic,vegetarian
Whether you want to go on an all-out keto diet, or just find creative ways to make your meals healthier, know that making small adjustments over time will result in positive changes that will benefit you for life. Variety and change nourish our creative spirit, an important component of self-care. You are worth making changes!