Health professionals encourage a daily intake of fruits and vegetables of about 9 servings per day. That is equivalent to about 2 cups of fruit and 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day. Of course those numbers are not a matter of exact science. . These numbers are based on the specs for an average person who consumes about 2,000 calories per day. And that recommendation is based on achieving maximum benefits from nutrient-rich, fiber-filled, and antioxidant-potent diet. Therefore, feel free to adjust them to better fit your needs, but keep in mind that to avoid some major chronic diseases such as diabetes, gastrointestinal related cancers and heart conditions, nine servings per day seem to be the magical number!
Although most of us already knew the information related above, actually eating that many fruits and vegetables daily can be a challenge. But it is possible! Use some creativity to incorporate vegetables and fruits into meals and dishes that normally would not include them. This can be the secret to achieving your goal. Think about it this way: You were already going to have some muffins as a snack or breakfast, but those don’t usually add to your daily quota of vegetables, until you make them with zucchini for example.
Another way to consistently meet those intake goals is to experiment with new fruits and vegetables you haven’t tried yet. Eating broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and spinach everyday can get boring pretty fast! So look outside of your normal fare for a new vegetable to incorporate weekly. Try artichokes, kohlrabi, yucca, zucchini blossoms and dandelion greens. You may have to google those and shop at local fresh food markets to find some of them, but embrace these obstacles as an adventure and take the opportunity to learn while expanding the variety of vitamins and minerals you’ll be consuming.
Eggplant is a nutritionist favorite due to its combination of nutrients, fiber and antioxidant power, but there is just so much Baba Ghanoush and fried eggplant you can make without growing tired of it. Making new recipes is another option for bringing your favorite vegetables back to the dinner table.
This recipe for Eggplant Kibbeh is an option for Meatless Monday lunch, or you can make it any other day of the week when you are looking for alternative entrees that focus on fiber and plant-based protein. It is also suitable to be served as a side item instead of a simple grain like rice for example. Since this recipe has multiple steps including some techniques some of you may not be familiar with when preparing the eggplant, we put together this short video that you can watch, while making the recipe at the same time, if you like! You can customize it by adding some of your preferred spices such as hot chili peppers, cumin and black pepper.
Carolina Jantac, MS, RD, LD
- Start by slicing the eggplant lengthwise, then score the flesh without cutting through the skin. Place it in a bowl filled with water and two tablespoons of vinegar for 15 minutes.
- Remove eggplant from water and pat it dry with paper towel. Brush it with the olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Place in pan lined with parchment paper, add the garlic cloves and take it to the oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes until eggplant is soft.
- In the meantime, add bulgur (fine ground preferred, but can be coarse) to about 1 ½ cup of warm water.
- When eggplant out of oven, scoop the middle into a mixing bowl, add the roasted garlic, and all other ingredients.
- Mix well, then add to baking dish and take to oven for another 30-40 minutes at 450F or until golden brown. Let it cool for a few minutes before slicing to serve. Refrigerate leftovers and consume within 2-3 days. Serves up to 6 people.