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Eggplant (Brinjal) For Baby: 10 Recipes And Health Benefits

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Eggplant, aubergine, brinjal, or berenjena is a nutritious fruit with several varieties. Although known as a vegetable in culinary practice, botanically, eggplant is a berry.  Out of its differently shaped and colored types, the round and slender shaped eggplants with purple-black peel are commonly available worldwide.

Adding this bright-colored food (though considered to be a vegetable is actually a fruit) to your infant’s weaning diet can enhance their overall nutrient intake. This post will give you an insight into the right age and ways to introduce eggplant to babies, its nutritional profile, possible health benefits, and some delectable recipes worth trying.

When Can Babies Have Eggplant?

Infants can usually consume eggplant as soon as they are ready for solids, which is generally from the age of six to seven months (though each baby takes its own time). You can first introduce cooked, deseeded eggplant as a mash or a puree. Eggplant is versatile and can be mixed with a variety of foods. Once the baby is comfortable with the food, gradually introduce steamed, boiled, roasted, grilled, or baked eggplant slices as finger foods.

Avoid feeding raw eggplant to babies and toddlers since it contains compounds that can irritate the digestive system(1). Eggplant belongs to the same family as tomatoes and chili peppers. If these do not suit your baby, then do consult a doctor before introducing eggplant.

Nutritional Value Of Eggplant

Eggplant can provide several vitamins, such as vitamin A and folate, minerals, a good amount of calcium, dietary fiber, and phytochemicals in considerable amounts. One cup (99 grams) of boiled eggplant prepared without salt can approximately provide the following nutrients (2) (3) (4) (5).

NameAmountRDA (7-12 months)
Water88.8g
Energy34.6Kcal
Carbohydrate, by difference8.64g
Fiber, total dietary2.48g
Magnesium, Mg10.9mg60mg
Potassium, K122mg700mg
Zinc, Zn0.119mg5mg
Manganese, Mn0.112mg0.6mg(AI)*
Folate, total13.9µg80µg(AI)
Vitamin A, IU36.6IU375RE**
Vitamin K2.87µg10µg

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, World Health Organization, and Oregon State University

*AI = Adequate Intake

**RE = Retinol Equivalent

Possible Health Benefits Of Eggplant For Infants

Feeding eggplant with different types of foods in moderation can benefit your infant in the long run. Most of these benefits are due to the vitamins and bioactive compounds, like phenols, carotenoids, and alkaloids found in eggplant (6).

  1. Supplies several nutrients:One cup of cooked eggplant contains 2.48 grams of dietary fiber to facilitate smooth bowel movement. Besides, it offers notable amounts of dietary folate, thiamine, niacin, vitamins A, C and K, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and manganese to support the baby’s growth and development.
  1. Provides antioxidants and phytochemicals: Eggplant contains several antioxidants and phenolic compounds, like anthocyanins and flavonoids.Nasunin, an anthocyanin, from eggplant could protect the brain from oxidative damage (6) (7) (8). Phenolic compounds in eggplant, such as chlorogenic acid, could have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects (9). All these help to improve heart health and phytonutrients increase brain function.

Eggplant has been in use in traditional medicine to treat several conditions, such as warts, burns, and inflammatory diseases, like stomatitis and gastritis  (7).

How To Select And Store Eggplant?

Selecting eggplants can be tricky as some of them are bitter or too seedy. Below are some simple steps to follow for selecting and storing eggplants  (10).

Selection tips:

  1. Buy the eggplants that are firm and heavy,with a clean peel and vivid color.
  1. Check ripeness by lightly pressing the skin. If the skin does not spring back, it indicates overripening.
  1. Discard eggplants that look shriveled and have bruises, pits, and scars.
  1. Check for blemishes.An eggplant with too many blemishes indicates that it is possibly decaying.
  1. Select eggplants that have smooth and shiny skin

Storage tips:

  1. Keep the eggplant in a paper bag or loosely wrap them in a paper towel and store in the refrigerator. Putting them in a glass container is the best way to store them as they are a delicate vegetable.
  1. Keep the refrigerator temperature between 10 and 12°C (50 and 54°F) to prevent the eggplants from spoiling.
  1. Place the crisper drawer away from fruits, like melons, banana, tomatoes, etc., as they produce ethylene gas that may cause the eggplant to over ripen.
  1. Try to use stored eggplants within three to seven days of purchase, and only cut when you are ready to cook or use it.
  1. You can store eggplants for up to eight months by blanching or steaming the peeled eggplant slices/cubes.

Precautions To Take While Feeding Eggplant To Babies And Toddlers

Take these precautions while feeding eggplant to your baby.

  1. Introduce eggplant in a pureed or mashed form prepared by steaming/boiling the peeled and deseeded eggplant. As your baby gets comfortable with the taste and digestibility, feed whole eggplant (with peel). If your baby has had digestive issues, it would be better to introduce it without the skin.
  1. Begin by feeding a teaspoon in a meal and increase the intake gradually.
  1. If the baby looks uncomfortable after ingesting eggplant, discontinue feeding and try after some time.
  1. Check for signs of allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance. Eggplant allergy is rare but possible. Its symptoms may come up immediately after ingestion or hours after the intake (11).
  1. If the baby has a family history of nightshade allergy (tomato, chili peppers, Cape gooseberry), birch pollen, or grass pollen allergy, then consult a doctor before introducing eggplant.
  1. For toddlers, give thinly sliced pieces of baked, steamed, baked, or grilled eggplant as finger foods to prevent choking.

Tasty Eggplant Recipes For Babies and Toddlers

Below are some healthy and delightful eggplant recipes for babies above seven months of age. When cooked well, these recipes will help your baby’s taste buds to discover some new flavors.

1. Eggplant puree

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You will need:

  • 1 cup organic eggplant (peeled, deseeded, and chopped)
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon powder

How to:

  1. Steam the eggplant pieces until they turn soft and mushy and keep them aside to cool. Alternatively, you can cut the eggplant in half and bake.
  1. Blend the pieces into a smooth puree and ensure no lumps are left.
  1. Add cinnamon powder to the puree, mix well, and add water to achieve a thin and smooth consistency, if required.

2. Eggplant, plum, and pear puree

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You will need:

  • 1 cup eggplant (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 plums (peeled, deseeded, and chopped)
  • 1 pear (peeled, deseeded, and chopped)

How to:

  1. Steam the pear, plum, and eggplant in a steamer for about 15 minutes or until they turn soft.
  1. After steaming, set the fruits aside to cool.
  1. Blend the steamed fruits into a smooth puree. Ensure no lumps or chunks are left.
  1. Serve immediately with lightly toasted bread or add it to baby cereal.

3. Eggplant and cheese

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You will need:

  • 1 cup eggplant pieces
  • 2 tsp cheese (grated)
  • 1 tsp dried basil flakes
  • 1 tbsp virgin olive oil

How to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F).Line the baking tray with a baking paper.
  1. Cut the eggplant into thin slices and brush them with some olive oil and small amount of basil flakes.
  1. Place the slices on the baking tray and bake for 25-30  minutes or until tender.
  1. Take out the baking tray from the oven and sprinkle the cheese over the eggplant slices.
  1. Return the tray to the oven and bake for five to ten minutes.
  1. You may chop or dice for finger food and serve immediately with homemade tomato sauce for added flavor and taste.
  1. You can bake some other seasonal vegetables, like sweet potato and beans, along with eggplant slices to fill the dish with colors and flavors.

4. Eggplant sauté

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You will need:

  • 1 cup eggplant (thinly chopped)
  • ½ cup of onion (chopped)
  • ½tsp garlic powder
  • ¼tsp basil powder
  • ¼tsp pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

How to:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan on medium heat and sauté onions for five minutes.
  1. Add peeled and diced eggplant, garlic powder, basil powder, and pepper powder into the saucepan, and cook until the eggplant becomes soft.
  1. Serve warm with rice, noodles or any other cereal or grain of your choice.
  1. Make this recipe colorful and healthier by adding different vegetables and roasted sesame seeds.

5. Roasted baby eggplant

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You will need:

  • 4 baby eggplants
  • 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 1/4 cup oregano sprigs
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½tsp black pepper powder
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • feta cheese (crumbled)

How to:

  1. Preheat the oven to 232°C (450°F).
  1. Slice the eggplants in half vertically (lengthwise).
  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper and place the eggplants on it with each piece at least a centimeter apart.
  1. Add oregano, salt, garlic slices, pepper powder, and olive oil in a small bowl and mix the ingredients well.
  1. Coat the eggplants with the mixture, cover the baking tray with a foil, and let the eggplants roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
  1. Once done, remove the foil and bake the eggplants for an additional five minutes.
  1. Place the eggplants on a serving plate, sprinkle feta cheese generously, and serve immediately.
  1. You can add lemon juice to the seasoning mix to make the recipe tangy.

6. Mildly spiced tomato and eggplant curry

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You will need:

  • 1 cup eggplant pieces (cut into 1/2-inch pieces)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 cup of chickpeas (cooked)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • ½ cup fresh basil

How to:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan on low heat, add the onions and cook for about five minutes or until they soften.
  1. Add eggplants, tomato, curry powder, eggplant, salt, and pepper powder and cook for about two minutes.
  1. Pour two cups of water and bring the mix to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  1. Add chickpeas to the mix and cook the mix for about five minutes.
  1. Switch off the flame, transfer the curry into a serving bowl, and add basil.
  1. Mash rice with a fork and serve it with the curry.

7. Eggplant lasagna

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You will need:

  • 2 eggplants (thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • ½ pound tomatoes (halved and deseeded)
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp garlic (roughly chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper powder
  • 4 tbsp virgin olive oil

How to:

  1. Preheat the oven at 190°C (375°F) and line a baking tray with a teaspoon of olive oil.
  1. Take a small mixing bowl, whisk the egg in it thoroughly, with some water, and keep it aside.
  1. Take another mixing bowl, add parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, salt, and black pepper in it and mix the ingredients well to prepare the coating mix.
  1. Make the top sauce by blending garlic, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
  1. Dip eggplant slices into the egg, coat them with coating mixture, and place the slices on the baking tray.
  1. Pour the top sauce over the eggplant slices and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese starts melting, and the sauce begins to bubble.
  1. You can add different vegetables, like bell peppers, or which your baby can digest well to this recipe to up its nutritional value.

8. Grilled eggplant

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You will need:

  • 3 small eggplants (thinly sliced)
  • 1 cup thick-sliced mild provolone
  • ½tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • ½tsp pepper powder
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ½tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

How to:

  1. Mix olive oil, vinegar, and dried oregano in a mixing bowl and brush the mixture on both sides of the eggplant slices.
  1. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the eggplant slices and grill them until they turn brown from the side facing the grilling net’s heat.
  1. Flip every slice, top them with a slice of provolone, and grill for about three minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble.
  1. Serve immediately with homemade hummus sauce and grilled chicken/tofu/bread to make a complete meal.

9. Cheesy eggplant slices

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You will need:

  • 4 baby eggplant (fresh)
  • ½tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • 2 tbsp Italian cheese blend
  • 1 tbsp parsley (chopped)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to:

  1. Cut the eggplant into halves, rub kosher salt onto each slice, and keep them aside for 15 minutes.
  1. Meanwhile, lightly roast the bread crumbs in a flat pan on medium to low flame.
  1. Mix bread crumbs, garlic, cheese, chopped parsley, salt, and pepper into a mixing bowl.
  1. Coat each eggplant slice with the mixture and keep them aside on a plate.
  1. Keep a large skillet on medium heat, add some oil, and put eggplant slices in it as the oil warms.You can even add spinach to enhance its nutritional value.
  1. After ten minutes, flip the side and sprinkle mozzarella cheese and dried oregano and cook until the cheese starts melting.
  1. Place the cheesy slices on a serving plate and serve warm with homemade mint dip, hummus, or tomato sauce.

10. Eggplant parmesan stick

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You will need:

  • 1 medium eggplant (peeled)
  • ⅓ cup of all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese (grated)
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs (whisked)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Olive oil cooking spray

How to:

  1. Cut the eggplant into two-inch-thick sticks and keep them aside.
  1. Mix the flour and salt in one bowl and bread crumbs and parmesan in another.
  1. Beat the eggs in the third bowl.
  1. Preheat the oven at 218°C (425°F).
  1. Lightly spray the baking tray with cooking oil spray.
  1. Dip the eggplant sticks first in the flour mixture, second egg, and third breadcrumbs.
  1. Place the sticks on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the outside turns golden brown. This makes it crispy on the outside and creamy and tender inside.
  1. Serve warm with a bowl of vegetable or multi-beans.

Eggplant is a versatile fruit that can provide antioxidants and essential nutrients. After seven months of age, you can begin feeding eggplant in mashed or pureed form and progress gradually to multi-ingredient eggplant recipes to boost the baby’s nutritional intake.

References:

1. The Many Uses of Eggplant; University of Vermont Extension
2. Eggplant, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt, FDC ID: 169229; FoodData Central; USDA
3. Feeding and nutrition of infants and young children; WHO
4. Manganese; Oregon State University
5. Folate; Oregon State University
6. NergizGürbüzÇolak et al.; Health benefits and bioactive compounds of eggplant; Researchgate
7. Muhammad YasirNaeem and SenayUgur Or Ozgen; Nutritional Content and Health Benefits of Eggplant; Researchgate
8. Y Noda et al.; Antioxidant activity of nasunin, an anthocyanin in eggplant peels; NCBI
9. Georgiana Horincar et al.; Value-Added Pastry Cream Enriched with Microencapsulated Bioactive Compounds from Eggplant (Solanummelongena L.) Peel; MDPI
10. Delayed Ripening Technology; International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications
11. Allergy to eggplant (Solanummelongena); Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology