I have a theory. The most delicious foods typically have the same three components: carbs, cheese, and fried.
Let’s consider the list: fried mozzarella sticks, cheeseburgers with fries, fried zucchini, quesadillas, chimichangas, crab wontons, spanakopita, and eggplant parmesan to name a few. YUM!!!
The problem lies in the calories. Most of these delicious treats are only for special occasions when trying to maintain a healthy diet. However, it doesn’t have to be that way…
Making your own version of these meals affords lower calorie and lower fat content in the final product. One way I cut down on calories when frying is using only 2-3 T vegetable or olive oil rather than filling the frying pan. It doesn’t take a lot of oil to get a good crust when frying, and the less oil used, the less oil consumed.
Another good idea is setting fried foods on paper towels prior to serving. The paper towels pick up some of the extra oil so your body doesn’t.
Low fat cheese is great option for lowering fat content in these meals. Also, reducing the amount of cheese or substituting some of the cheese with lower fat options can be a great way of cutting back on fat. For instance, in lasagna, using half cottage cheese and half tofu cuts back significantly on fat.
Now on to the good stuff…
1 medium eggplant, sliced in 1/2 inch portions lengthwise
3/4 cup Italian seasoning
12 Saltine crackers, crushed
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
1 T basil
1 t each salt and pepper
2 eggs beaten
4 cups marinara sauce (I use my homemade sauce, but store bought will work)
1/2 cup mozzarella
1/4 cup Parmesan, shredded
1/2 lb linguini (or pasta of choice, try whole wheat!)
To prepare the eggplant, after slicing, lay each slice flat and salt flesh liberally. Wait 15 minutes, the salt will remove water from the eggplant making it easier to fry and less mushy. Blot off excess liquid with paper towels. Repeat process on reverse side.
Set oven to 350 F. Mix breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, basil, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan in bowl. In separate bowl, beat eggs. Dip eggplant into egg mixture, then into crumb mixture until well coated. Heat deep frying pan to medium high heat and add oil. Fry eggplant in batches until golden. Remove from pan, pat dry with paper towel and place on a cookie sheet. Repeat until all eggplant is fried. Add 1 T red sauce over top of each eggplant piece. Add 1 T mozzarella and 1 t shredded parmesan over sauce. When every eggplant is covered, put in oven for 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
Meanwhile, boil water in a large saucepan and prepare noodles according to directions. Heat remaining sauce until hot. To plate meal, spoon 1/2 cup pasta on plate, add 1/2 cup sauce over pasta, then place one slice of eggplant on top of pasta and sauce. Enjoy!
Note: If you’re still hungry, try filling up on veggies rather than eating more carbs. Eat a salad with your meal! Remember to use no more than 1 T of salad dressing to keep it light and healthy.