Baked Coconut Eggplant Fries-MainPhoto

Baked Coconut Eggplant Fries-MainPhoto
Here’s a fun baked purple twist on the classic fried golden French fry. With a soft texture inside surrounded by a crispy outside, these eggplant fries are a great tasty and healthy alternative to fast food. Eggplants are brimming with vitamins and minerals; the most prominent are vitamins A, B, C, folate, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorous.

They are also an exceptional source of dietary fiber, which keeps your digestive system working smoothly. Eggplants, full of antioxidants, also promote good health through lowering your risk of cancer and decreasing cholesterol.

These pretty purple veggies contain very few calories so if you’re on a diet, they’re a perfect snack to toss into your day that tastes good, fills you up and won’t leave you feeling deprived. These baked fries will surely change the way you think about their fast food counterparts and you will want to fire up your oven to bake them a few times a week.

Read Related: Detox Diet: Perfect Before, During or After the Holidays

Get creative and create your own unique spin on these fries.  They can be made using the basic recipe below, but try swapping lime juice or grapefruit juice for the orange along with a dash of ground cinnamon.  Eggplants are similar to tofu in the way that they soak up flavor easily, making them quite versatile whether it’s a sweet or savory topping you use.  Vegetarians use eggplants as a meat substitute because of its hearty taste and ability to hold you over until your next meal. If you have a vegetarian or vegan child, this dish is a great addition to their daily meals or snacks. Try serving these fries alongside their lunch as a side dish or whip them up for an appetizer before dinner and serve with guacamole or salsa.  Kids will love these fries as a snack for road trips; adults will love them when they are out running errands and need something quick on hand.  They pair well with most main dinner dishes such as chicken, fish, tofu or soup.  Many of my clients like to serve these fries for Thanksgiving and Halloween—they’re fun finger foods that are enjoyed by adults and kids, alike.  They are incredibly easy to make and can easily be whipped up in no time with a little help from your children—it’s always fun getting them involved in the kitchen especially when they are seeing how their food goes from the market to their dinner plates.

Another great way to add a bit of pizzazz is to serve these fries with fun dipping sauces. Salsa, hummus or guacamole are perfect for serving but if you don’t have them on hand in your kitchen—whisk together olive oil, minced garlic and fresh lemon zest for a homemade dip. For a sweet snack, you can serve these fries with honey, agave nectar or plain Greek yogurt. And if your kids are in the mood for a something savory, you can use barbeque sauce or mustard. There are endless combinations for how you can serve these versatile fries anytime of the year whether it’s a summer BBQ or a holiday potluck.

This may come as a surprise, but the eggplant isn’t the only healthy part of this recipe; coconut adds a punch of flavor and sweetness without the added sugar. Coconuts are full of of lauric acid, which is an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal substance helping to ward off bad health and boost your immune system to keep your family healthy and able to fight off colds.  Coconut can lead to lower risk of heart disease and improve the functions of those with diabetes, chronic fatigue, Crohn’s, IBS and other digestive disorders. So don’t be afraid to sprinkle on some unsweetened coconut flakes to your salads, stir-fries and oatmeal.  Aside from using it on these fries and as a topping for your gingerbread house, there are so many other great ways you can use coconut flakes.  Coconut can be quite an adaptable food, so try it on anything from plain Greek yogurt to grilled chicken for a unique and flavorful spin on your classic recipes.

Fresh oranges add a lovely citrus kick to any recipe. They get the most attention for their vitamin C content, a strong natural antioxidant which protects against disease. Oranges also contain many other beneficial qualities such as dietary fiber and minerals that contribute to regulating heart rate and blood pressure. Recent studies show that citrus fruits, particularly oranges, reduce the risks of cancer, arthritis, obesity and coronary heart diseases.

Olive oil is a healthy fat with a distinctive taste that adds flavor to any dish, from chocolate pudding to sautéed onions.  Olive oil is a healthy alternative to butter or lard and contains antioxidants and omega fatty acids in every spoonful.  If you’re not used to cooking with olive oil or tend to gravitate towards butter, try swapping half the butter your recipe calls for with olive oil and see how you like it!

Now that you’ve seen just how healthy these coconut eggplant fries are, go ahead and warm up your oven.  Don’t be intimidated—try making them tonight for your kids and they’ll be yearning for more tomorrow.

Vegan, Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free
Serves: 2

1 large eggplant
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 fresh orange
¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground white pepper
¼ tsp. fresh orange zest

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a baking dish with nonstick baking spray.
2. Slice eggplant in half; lay the flat portion of the eggplant on a cutting board and slice each half into eight fry-like shapes using a sharp knife.
3. In a large bowl, whisk remaining ingredients except orange zest. Add eggplant fries; gently toss to coat.
4. Place coated eggplant fries on prepared baking dish; bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
5. Remove from oven; set aside to cool for 3 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh orange zest and serve with a side of salsa or guacamole.