Versatile, velvety smooth and virtually tasteless, you’d think I was describing a potato. The aubergine however, is its low calorie, antioxidant dense, skin loving cousin. Part of the nightshade family with tomatoes and potatoes, this fruit (yup, aubergine has tiny edible seeds and therefore is actually a fruit) should be an anti-aging diet staple because of it’s nutrient quantity! Originating in Myanmar, the aubergine plant was commonly used as a decorative piece in gardens as the deep purple, droplet shaped fruits grew from vines – that was before their nutritional benefits were sought out.
In today’s world, there are many varieties of aubergine available in lavender, orange, yellow, green, and striped coatings, all boasting their own nutritional benefits. Today’s recipe however, features the more common purple coloured fruit, that you reluctantly walk past in the produce section as you’re not quite sure what to do with it! Well, be rest assured that making vegan stuffed aubergine rolls is just one of the many reasons you’ll be picking up aubergines in your next shopping trip! Here are 4 reasons you want more aubergines in your diet!
1. Has an Antioxidant Rich Skin
Other than making it super easy to prepare, leaving the skin on for aubergines is actually incredibly beneficial for the skin! The skin is rich in the antioxidant nasunin – which is responsible for giving it its gorgeous deep purple coating. Nasunin is a potent free radical scavenger that Raw Beauty veterans know are detrimental to your skin’s existing collagen. Nasunin can also build up your skin barrier as it helps it protect lipids - the primary ingredient for your skin cell membranes. Having a strong skin barrier will prevent trans epidermal (an awfully fancy way of saying ‘through the skin’) water loss, helping to keep your skin hydrated and plump and maintaining the water content required for collagen production.
2. Rich Source of Copper
Copper is considered as one of the holy trinity of ingredients required to help your body naturally build collagen. Copper activates the lysysyl oxidase enzyme that is essential for cross-linking the collagen and elastin fibres together and build up the foundation of your skin to keep it looking firm and taut. Copper is also essential for maintaining the health of your blood vessels which can help ensure a healthy supply of nutrients to support the production of collagen in your skin, hair and nails and throughout your body.
3. Great Source of Fibre to Maintain a Healthy Gut-Skin Axis
Often overlooked when trying to improve the health of your skin, gut health is incredibly important for improving collagen production. The gut is where your body absorbs all ingested nutrients required for collagen production, and therefore it is essential to keep your gut clean, clear and healthy – and having a fibre rich diet is the best way to do this. Fibre keeps your longer bathroom trips more regular (if you know what I mean). This keeps your gut free of waste products, which improves your ability to absorb phytonutrients from your diet and supplement much more effectively, and deliver them to your skin to faster too. Additionally, when your gut is congested and not in its optimum state, one of the more immediate signs (unfortunately) is dull, congested skin. So having fibre heavy foods like aubergine will help the health of your gut and also the health of your skin!
4. Great Source of Calcium
Although not directly involved in collagen production, calcium is very important to maintaining the structural integrity of collagen, especially the type II collagen fibril which is found in bones, ligaments and joints. Aubergine is a great source of calcium and has been shown to be effective in preventing and relieving the hardening of soft tissues that are generally associated with osteoarthritis. If you’re sick of milk to help strengthen your joints, stick an aubergine in the oven and puree the pulp to add into sauces to get in your calcium fix.
Now that I’ve given an abundance of reasons why you need to have aubergine in your diet as you attempt to turn back the time on your skin, let me give you a deliciously divine way to enjoy them!
Vegan Stuffed Aubergine Rolls
2 medium to large aubergines
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic (minced)
150g of sundried tomatoes in oil
150g of vegan cream cheese
3 cups of marinara sauce
½ acauliflower head
1 tsp dried oregano
A small bunch of basil
Sea salt and black pepper
Pomegranites (optional for seasoning)
Red chilli peppers, chopped (optional for seasoning)
Preheat an oven to 180 C with a griddle tray in it.
Cut your aubergines down their length into 0.5cm thick slices. Season aubergine slices with salt, black pepper and brush with oil, massaging the seasoning into the slices.
Place over a griddle for a couple minutes or until the griddle marks are on each side of the aubergine and the aubergine softens. Remove aubergine from the heat and set it aside.
Chop up the cauliflower into florets and place in a food processor and blend to make cauliflower rice.
Then add in the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, vegan cream cheese, basil and oregano to the food processor and continue to pulse until the mixture is well combined.
Add olive oil to a skillet on medium heat and add the mixture from the food processor into the pan for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
Season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste, and sauté for a couple more minutes until everything is combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Next spread marinara sauce over the base of a casserole dish.
Lay the aubergine slices out on a clean surface and spoon on the mixture on top of each of the slices and spread evenly over the surface.
Then begin to roll up each slice as you would a cigar and cut each roll in half. Place each role seam side down into the sauce on the casserole dish.
Finally, brush the tops of the rolls slightly with olive oil and place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the aubergine rolls are thoroughly cooked.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with pomegranites and red chilli peppers. Serve hot!