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9/15/2022
Recipes

Blood-Glucose Friendly Japanese Eggplant Recipes

Written by
Yumna Farooq
Team Nutrisense
Reviewed by
Jordyn Wallerius
MS, RDN, CD
A batch of purple Japanese eggplants

Eggplants are a type of nightshade and are full of a number of important vitamins and minerals. This vegetable, which is also known as an aubergine, is originally native to China and India.

The eggplant has been around for centuries, and is used in everything from Japanese to Italian cuisine. But one unique variety of this vegetable is the Japanese eggplant. While it shares a similar flavor profile to traditional eggplants, the Japanese eggplant is longer and more narrow, and differs slightly in taste.

If you’re looking for new ways to include this tasty and nutritious vegetable in your diet, look no further! In this article, we share six blood glucose-friendly recipes approved by Nutrisense dietitian Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN, plus her thoughts on why she loves each recipe.

Nutritional Content of Japanese Eggplant

Eggplants in general are considered to be extremely nutrient-dense foods. When it comes to nutritional value, there isn’t much difference between traditional eggplants and Japanese eggplants.

Each variety is high in fiber, and relatively low in calories, sodium, and carbohydrates. Here’s a breakdown of the nutrients found in eggplants:

Japanese Eggplant Nutritional Info

Eggplants are also good sources of vitamins such as, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K. These vegetables also contain potassium, folate, manganese, folic acid, and thiamine.

A study conducted on mice also found that the antioxidant properties of enzymes found in eggplants reduced blood sugar levels in mice with diabetes. These findings suggest that it may be beneficial to include in your diet if you are managing your glucose level.

While this study is exciting, more research is still needed to determine how effective this connection is. Other research has found that eggplants may also have the following additional beneficial effects on your health.

  • Can be anti-inflammatory
  • May have anti-asthmatic properties
  • May help lower blood pressure
  • Can reduce blood clot formation
  • Can help prevent buildup of harmful fats such as triglycerides

Seven Healthy Japanese Eggplant Recipes

Whether or not you’re a lover of eggplants, we’ll take you through seven of our favorite Japanese eggplant recipes that you’ll be sure to enjoy. Plus, expert Nutrisense dietitian Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN, will share why these recipes are healthy and how you can make them even better.

1) Heather Davis’s Spicy Eggplant Tofu Salad with Cashews 

To start off, Heather shares one of her favorite homemade recipes that she regularly makes for dinner. This spicy eggplant tofu salad can be customized to your liking, and as mild or spicy as you prefer.

Eggplant tofu salad with cashews

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • Dash of coconut oil or sesame oil
  • 1 eggplant, sliced about a ½ inch thick
  • ½ small head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 4-6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ¾ cup cashews
  • 1 tablespoon chili sauce or other hot sauce of choice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Romaine salad leaves or other lettuces of choice

Directions

  1. Place your tofu on a sheet pan and bake. In a separate dish, season your eggplant slices and bake them as well.
  2. While those are baking, heat up some oil in your skillet to cook the cauliflower until desired texture.
  3.  When the eggplant is done, mix with the cauliflower for a few minutes to let the flavors blend.
  4.  Place your lettuce into a bowl, top with eggplant and cauliflower mix, and tofu. Top with cashews and hot sauce as desired. 

Why Heather Loves It

I like this recipe because it's a protein-rich plant-based option for those who are looking to include more plants in their diet while still opting for lower carb alternatives and rich flavors. You can also coat your tofu in almond flour before baking to make it extra crispy.

2) Roasted Japanese Eggplant with Crushed Tomato, Pecorino, and Thyme by Brett Anderson (from the New York Times)

Roasted Japanese Eggplant with Crushed Tomato, Pecorino, and Thyme

This recipe by restaurant critic Brett Anderson takes a fine dining approach to cooking Japanese eggplant.

Ingredients

  • 4 small Japanese eggplants
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Sea salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1 large, very ripe heirloom tomato
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 ounces pecorino cheese, shaved or thinly sliced

Why Heather Loves It

I love the simplicity and flavors in this recipe! However, because it does run a little low in protein, you may want to think of this dish as more of a "veggie side" to your other main protein. Try pairing this dish as an appetizer before baked trout, steamed shrimp with lemon and pepper, or slow cooker chicken.

3) Baked Low FODMAP Eggplant Parmesan by For a Digestive Peace of Mind

This recipe is a great option for people who want to enjoy this vegetable but have specific dietary restrictions or are on an elimination diet.

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, cut in 1/2 inch thick slices, ends trimmed (about 12 slices)
  • Salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon garlic infused oil 
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cup diced plain canned tomatoes (drained of juice)
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese

Why Heather Loves It

This eggplant parmesan dish is a great option for anyone following a low FODMAP diet. I like to boost the protein content of this meal by including a simple side salad topped with proteins such as hard boiled eggs, chopped uncured ham or turkey, some sunflower seeds, and simple oil and vinegar dressing.

4) Japanese Roasted Eggplant Yakinisu by Low Carbing Asian

Japanese Roasted Eggplant Yakinisu by Low Carbing Asian

This recipe is a good alternative for those who are low carb (and can be easily modified to be more blood glucose friendly).

Ingredients

  • 2 Whole Japanese Eggplants
  • 2 tablespoons Bonito Flakes can sub with 1/8 tsp of hondashi
  • 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Japanese Sake
  • 1 teaspoon sweetener (monk fruit erythritol blend, sugar or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon Bonito Flakes topping
  • 1/2 Stalk Green Onions topping

Why Heather Loves It

This roasted eggplant plate is full of rich umami flavors and the Bonito flakes give it a boost of added protein. Adding a white fish such as hake or cod is a great way to up the protein content even more and help keep you satiated for longer.

5) Eggplant with Thai Basil and Chicken by Woks of Life

Along with using Japanese eggplant as the base, this recipe also incorporates protein. Protein, one of the three macronutrients, can be beneficial in balancing blood sugar.

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 5 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus 1 teaspoon for marinating
  • 1½ teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 Japanese or Chinese eggplants (about 12-16 ounces)
  • 3 cloves garlic (sliced thinly)
  • 3 scallions 
  • 1 bunch Thai basil or holy basil
  • 1 tablespoon dry sherry cooking wine
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Thai thin soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • Ground white pepper
  • ¼ cup chicken stock

Why Heather Loves It

This high-protein dish is full of flavor. For some substitutions for those who may have particular sensitivities or health concerns, I might suggest the following

  • If you're concerned about the processed vegetable oils, you might consider replacing them with avocado oil or coconut oil.
  • If you're wanting to go soy-free, you can substitute the soy sauce for coconut aminos.
  • If you're wanting to avoid cornstarch, you can try arrowroot or even almond flour.

6) Easy Roasted Japanese Eggplant by MasterClass

Easy Roasted Japanese Eggplant by MasterClass

This recipe by Michelin rated chef Niki Nakayama is a must-try for all lovers of gastronomy.

Ingredients

  • 3 Japanese eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons white miso
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 teaspoon crushed ginger
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, for garnish
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish

Why Heather Loves It

This is a simple and traditional recipe that's pretty straight forward to throw together. This would make a good side dish to other protein-rich foods on your plate!

The miso in this recipe does contribute a little bit of protein, but I would recommend opting for a little bit more. If you'd like a slightly non-traditional spin on your choice of vinegars and are feeling adventurous, you might even try replacing the rice vinegar for apple cider vinegar.

7) Ginger Pork Rolls with Japanese Eggplant by Just One Cookbook

This recipe is low in carbohydrates and high in protein. Think of it as a Japanese version of bacon roll-ups. If you have all the ingredients on hand, it’s quick and easy to throw together with just 15 minutes of prep time, for a total time of 30 minutes before it’s ready to enjoy.

Ingredients

  • 2 Japanese eggplants
  • ½ pound thinly sliced pork loin (1 package shabu shabu meat)
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 knob fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon sake (or water)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon miso
  • 4 shiso leaves

Why Heather Loves It

These pork rolls make for a great appetizer or can even be eaten as your main dish. To make them more glucose-friendly, swap out the cornstarch for almond flour and omit the sugar.

Related Article

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