Eggplant Parm Straight from the Farm

Hanging out in Capri, Italy. Italy hands down has the tastiest food in the world.

A snapshot of Positano, Italy from the boat to Capri

Last week I made this gorgeous (not fried) eggplant parm inspired by our Easter trip to Italy earlier this year. I received eggplant from a local farm here in NC as part of my organic vegetable box I get delivered each week. Instead of traditional cheese that would normally be on top, I used raw unpasteurized goat’s milk cheese and parmesan. I was able to obtain this cheese because it had been aged 60 days or more, allowing it to be sold at my local health market.

Eggplant main course from Torre Normande restaurant in Maiori, Italy.  That’s smoked fresh raw mozzarella on top from a real buffalo!

A view in Venice from the terrace of our hotel

Riding the gondola – oh yeah, we brought our own snacks ;)

The milk debate has driven me up the wall. I’ve been studying milk for a while now and its finally taken toll on my anger. I am angry at the dairy industry, I am angry at food politics and I am even more angry that I can’t get RAW milk here in North Carolina legally. Pasteurized milk is a dead food with little to no nutritional value or reason to drink it or eat it at all.

The Milk debate can drive anyone up the wall – even in Venice.

Giving up dairy is something I have yet to succumb to. I use it in very limited quantities and have made many substitutions that feed my innate childhood cravings. Dairy has been fundamental in my upbringing. I am Indian, so we eat fresh yogurt made at home with our meals to help complement and cool the various spices used in cooking our traditional dishes. Lots of our wonderful authentic desserts are made with fresh cream and homemade cheeses that come from cow’s milk.

Before the industrial revolution, my parents and their ancestors ate dairy products as part of their everyday diet. They were able to do this without negative health consequences because the type of milk they received from cows was unadulterated raw milk. It was not laced with pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics, growth hormones or toxins from CFAOs. The milk they received was completely free of chemical processing and unpasteurized, making it a healthy nutritional addition to a strict vegetarian diet.

Raw milk has several benefits to the human body, however, most of us never get to experience this because raw milk is extremely hard to get if its not legal in your state. Raw milk keeps all the natural minerals intact, allowing the body to easily absorb calcium. Pasteurizing milk eliminates the mineral called Phosphatase. Without this mineral, the calcium stays in your bloodstream and can cause cardiovascular disease.

Understanding the Pasteurization process is key to figuring out why America is still one of the top nations suffering from bone related illnesses even though we are one of the top 3 dairy consumers in the world and why our rates of heart disease continue to rise.

Additionally, raw milk has several types of natural occurring probiotics that help your body digest it without producing mucus in your intestines. The mucus that coats your intestines from pasteurized milk causes several issues with digestion and malabsorption of nutrients. Furthermore, Lactase found in raw milk is the enzyme that people who have been deemed lactose intolerant lack, allowing them to tolerate raw milk just fine in most cases.

Traditionally in India, the cow is allowed to give its milk to its baby calf first and only what is left over is used for human consumption. Leaving a very small amount to use throughout the week for cooking (not in gallon size containers that can stay fresh for weeks). In typical farms in the United States, calves are slaughtered shortly after birth for their meat, causing a great deal of pain and suffering for the mama cow, making the cow secrete massive amounts of stress toxins to be released into her milk. This is then passed down to us, including all the other unknown anti-biotics, growth hormones, and chemicals the industry uses to produce the milk. The cow is sacred in India and the majority of Indians don’t eat beef– this just doesn’t happen there.

The cows in India are lean, mean, raw milk producing machines.  We saw these on the way to Pondicherry – a former french colony and home to a beautiful ashram.

Most of my family has migrated from India to the United States and it saddens me that they cannot get the original nutritional content of milk in their bodies like they did in their childhood. Indian immigrants and other immigrants from raw milk producing countries are being duped by the US dairy industry and don’t even know it. I’d really like to see my family recipes get passed down from generation to generation, but I am not sure we can do this safely for our future children and grandchildren unless we all can get access to real raw milk.

In conclusion, I leave you with my supremely healthy eggplant parmesan recipe and Food Babe tips to help you navigate the dairy world one step at a time….

5.0 from 1 reviews

Food Babe’s Eggplant Parmesan
 
Prep time

Cook time

Total time

 

Serves: 4 – 6

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 cup quinoa cooked to package instructions
  • 8 ripe tomatoes diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • 3 ounces of crumbled raw goat’s milk cheese
  • 2 ounces of shredded raw parmesan cheese

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Prepare 1 cup dry quinoa according to package instructions and set aside
  3. Meanwhile, thinly slice eggplant (½ inch thick) and place it on a large baking rack, spray lightly with olive oil
  4. Cook slices eggplant for about 10-15 mins at 400 until slightly golden
  5. For the tomato sauce, start by sauteeing onions in olive oil for 5 mins on medium heat
  6. Once onions are cooked tender, add garlic and sautee 2 more minutes
  7. Add tomatoes, red pepper, half of basil, and salt and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer
  8. Allow tomatoes to cook for at least 10 mins and then smash them with a potato smasher or big fork
  9. Place about ½ of the cooked tomato sauce on the bottom of a large baking dish
  10. In this order layer the following ingredients one at a time – eggplant slices, quinoa, rest of sauce and top with cheese and basil
  11. Bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for 30-40 mins

Notes
***All ingredients organic***

 

Start with the ripest tomatoes you can find

I used red quinoa for the color – but you can use any kind you like

Eggplant should slightly brown on both sides before taking it out of the oven – Precooking it will take away the chewy texture of eggplant that many people don’t like

Homemade tomato sauce simmering away

Get all your ingredients lined up

Beautiful eggplant layers

 

Topping it off with raw cheese and fresh basil


Buon Appetito!

 

Food Babe’s Raw Dairy Tips -

1. Buy and consume only unpasteurized organic milk products if you can get your hands on it, if not, extremely limit or eliminate it. I mean, think about it – cow’s milk is originally intended to take a 35 pound calf and grow it into a 1300 pound adult? What is wrong with this picture? Why would already grown adults want to drink this as a beverage anyways? I can’t believe the government recommends 3 servings a day! It just doesn’t make any sense, especially if you already eat meat. Milk is acidic. Remember – we want to keep our bodies alkaline to help fight off disease.

2. Yogurt is still beneficial for the immune system because of all the helpful probiotics. However, you don’t need to eat yogurt to get the benefits. Several studies have been conducted on how people from India who ate raw milk yogurt came to the US and could not tolerate pasteurized milk yogurt. They developed IBS, and other digestive issues. Luckily I don’t have this problem, since I was born here and tolerate yogurt just fine but I still only eat it only a few times a week with my mom’s home cooked delicious indian food and for a snack occasionally. If you experience any stomach issues after consuming yogurt or dairy, consider taking a supplement for probiotics instead. Check this to find out what brand I use.

3. When cooking at home, only use raw cheese from your local farmers market or health market – I go to Earth Fare for mine – they have several raw unpasteurized cheese options and carry one of my favorites which comes from a huge wheel of parmesan from Italy.

4. I fortunately can drink my tea and coffee without any milk – but for those of you that need that creamy texture – there are several alternatives to check out. Almond, Rice, Coconut, Hemp are all good options to try. (I do not recommend soy, I’ll talk about in a later post). Make the switch fun – buy a small carton of each and have a blind taste test to see which one like you the most! 

5. If you eat chocolate, try to find chocolate that doesn’t contain dairy. Pacari is one of my favorite brands. Milk chocolate is definitely my weak spot, as I love italian hazelnut chocolate like no other.

6. If you have never tried raw milk and have apprehensions – Check out this link to view a video and article about a family making the switch to raw milk.

7. To find real raw milk near you and learn more, check out this link.

8. In the end, if you still can’t give up pasteurized milk – please only consume organic from grass-fed cows (Organic Valley has a fabulous one available at Whole Foods).

I have lots of more information and feel like I may have left some questions unanswered, if you have anything specific you’d to ask me – feel free to comment below or Facebook Me.

I absolutely LOVE hearing from you all – please keep talking, writing and sharing with me!

 

Food Babe

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19 Responses to “Eggplant Parm Straight from the Farm”

  1. Kim Long Walton

    Can you freeze this? I love your recipes and have tried several. I have Celiac so need to get gluten free and most of them are. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

    Reply
    • Food Babe (to Kim Long Walton)

      Kim this would be great to freeze before or after you make it. I’ve done with before with a similar dish. I left individual portions for my husband in the freezer to eat while I was traveling out of town for work. Just make sure to cool the dish completely after you make it before you freeze it. If you freeze it uncooked, top the basil and cheese when you decide to thaw it out. Hope this helps! So happy you are enjoying the recipes!

      Reply
  2. Holly

    I can’t wait to try this recipe!!!! It looks beyond amazing!!!!

    Reply
  3. Mundir

    Amazing blog! Just want to say quickly that I appreciate all of your food knowledge that you are sharing with us. Thank you!
    Any suggestions for a substitute for Quinoa?

    Reply
    • Food Babe (to Mundir)

      Mundir – Thank you for your sweet comments – A good substitute would be Himalayan red rice or even wild brown rice. I like the red rice because of the nutty flavor. But, honestly you could leave the quinoa off and eat a bigger portion – it would still turn out delicious.

      Reply
  4. reena

    I love this dish but never tried it with quinoa! really need to try looks yummy!
    p.s – i think you are doing a great job with this blog!

    Reply
    • Food Babe (to reena)

      Thanks Reena! This means a lot coming from a true Italian! Sad we missed you while we were in Venice – Next time for sure!

      Reply
  5. Kristin Robbins

    I am currently struggling with the dairy issue This article makes me want to eat it even less! But how do you make sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D?

    Reply
  6. Kellie Ryan

    Do you have any suggestions for 1 year old babes? My son is only 9 months old and still on formula but come the 1 year mark we will enter into the milk world. I was contemplating doing almond milk but they say there is not enough fat for brain development but I think we could incorporate foods to help with that. Any suggestions or knowledge you have would be great! Thank you!

    Reply
  7. David

    As an individual who has been greatly educated in food, its safety, its regulation, and its cooking, I feel that your post is very ill-researched and misleading, particularly for individuals and families who are looking for ways to eat healthier and make informed decisions regarding food, safety, and health. Encouraging raw milk consumption directly contradicts food safety officials. I think a large part of the problem comes from our definition of processed foods. Food processing often invokes a bad connotation these days, but that is because it is understood to mean “unhealthy,” “fake,” “artificial,” or “full of chemicals.” Rather, “processing” in its wider meaning should be understood to be anything that brings food from the field to the consumer in a safe way, so that we all do not have to be out there growing and picking our food for ourselves at all times- not a viable option for today’s world, population, and economy. This includes even transporting fresh vegetables to grocery stores, as well as washing them and protecting them from contamination en route. Any good food company holding its customers as valuable would incorporate these good practices for consumer safety—even for the vegetables you buy in the produce department. So, even “fresh” vegetables (which can be stored for several weeks) undergo “processing.” I also do not intend to disrespect your culture- I understand that many of these practices are traditional. Overall, if the focus of this website is about making smarter, healthier food choices, I understand and applaud that goal, but this post has illustrated that this is not necessarily the message that is being portrayed.
    A few points of concern:
    - Raw milk is not chemically processed, it is pasteurized. Pasteurization involves heating the milk to a certain temperature for a certain amount of time to ensure that all illness-causing microorganisms are destroyed. That is all that it means! You can pasteurize milk on your own stovetop by applying heat at a certain temperature for a certain time. By making a blanket statement that milk is a “processed food” and inherently bad or not nutritious, you suggest that there is no value in making sure that our food at its peak level of safety.
    - The same reason that “probiotic” microorganisms remain in raw milk is also why dangerous bacteria such as E. coli could also be present in raw milk. Even with good handling practices by farmers, microbes may be present as a result of udder infection, unsanitary conditions, contact with dirt, silage, or feces, and unclean equipment. Since few of us these days own our own cows and are able to monitor the health and practices involved in caring for them, it is unlikely that we should take the risk of consuming raw milk. Even with the best of intentions, mistakes can still be made, and pasteurization protects us from mistakes!
    - It is not advisable for anyone to consume raw milk, let alone children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised. These people are already at a disadvantage due to their less developed immune systems, and so purposely and knowingly introducing these people to dangerous bacteria is foolish and incredibly dangerous.
    - I would be very interested to look into the research you use for this post, including related to the decrease in milk nutrition as a result of pasteurization. Phosphatase is an enzyme (so it is a protein), not a mineral, and I believe that your interpretation of that nutritional action is likely not possible. Pasteurization does cause some slight vitamin and mineral losses, but these are on the order of 5-20% for only a few select nutrients. It is a good source of other nutrients like calcium and B-vitamins, so providing a blanket statement that pasteurized milk is not nutritious is not supported.
    Please, I encourage you to conduct more thorough research before making posts and at the very least understand why our government and food safety regulators make these decisions. You have many, many followers through this site, and I have found it to be both ill-researched and misleading on many counts—this could lead your readers to believe as fact what is at best unintentional and at worst fictional information.

    Reply
    • Whitney (to David)

      The debate surrounding raw milk is obviously a controversial one, and you are free to make your own decisions, but the benefits of drinking raw milk are not fiction, or based solely in culture and tradition. They are based in science. It may “directly contradict food safety officials,” but those same officials are saying some pretty nasty foods are perfectly safe. I don’t trust them to tell me what is safe and what is not. What I do trust are years of research and thousands upon thousands of testimonials from people, including many doctors, who believe and have seen and studied the benefits of drinking raw milk. I drink it. My friends drink it. Our children drink it. Do a Google search on the benefits of raw milk. You’ll find many sites and physicians saying the same thing Foodbabe is saying about how good raw milk is for you, and you’ll find mostly government sites telling you to avoid it. Make your own decision. There is a wealth of information on the benefits of drinking raw milk, not only from cows, but from goats and sheep as well. Here’s another article that goes a little more in depth into the benefits of and issues surrounding raw milk:
      http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/01/mark-mcafee-interview.aspx

      Reply
  8. Mila

    Actually just realized that i was drinking raw milk all my childhood.

    Reply
  9. Paul

    My brother in law is a dairy farmer in upstate NY and drinks raw milk everyday and has done so his entire life. I should be so healthy.

    Reply
  10. Karl

    Just recently found your website and signed up for your newsletter, and I’m so glad I did. I’ve been doing my best to eat healthy all my life, but it seems to be getting harder to find food that hasn’t been messed up in one way or another. When I was a kid 70+ years ago we had our own cows for milk and butter, raised our own poultry and pork, had a big vegetable garden, picked wild raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, elderberries, and cherries. What we didn’t raise or find wild we could buy from other local farmers. There were no supermarkets near where we lived. My brothers and I caught all the childhood diseases, but we almost never went to the doctor because we had strong immune systems. It’s really a crime that our food is so poor because of corporate greed and political influence.

    Reply
  11. Sully

    After reading about the benefits of raw milk, I want to give it a try.
    Do I just use like the pasteurized milk I get from the grocery store? how long does it last in the fridge? When I was a child we had cows and mom boiled the milk before we drank. Will boiling be the same as pasteurizing in terms of destroying the nutrient and enzymes? Thanks

    Reply
    • Assistant to Food Babe (Krista) (to Sully)

      Hi Sully – we cannot buy raw milk in NC so we don’t have a lot of experience with it. http://www.raw-milk-facts.com/Raw_Milk_FAQ.html Hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Michelle (to Assistant to Food Babe (Krista))

        Hi Krista and Vani!
        My family and I have been drinking raw cow’s milk through a cowshare program for 2 years now here in Lexington, KY. I love that my boys are growing up drinking this. I am also lactose intolerant, but have been able to save money instead of buying my own almond milk (which still bothered me). I did find that coconut milk was a great alternative, but now I solely drink raw milk and love how easily I can digest it!
        I was looking up the real milk website and found a few places in NC that sell raw cow’s milk. Have you guys checked that out recently? There were quite a few cities: http://www.realmilk.com/real-milk-finder/north-carolina/#nc

        I hope you all are able to find something close to you! Ultimately, I hope that every state legalizes the sale of raw cow’s milk.

        Thank you so much for all you guys do!! Love your blog and all your research!!

  12. Liz

    I made this tonight and it is FABULOUS! Thank you :)

    Reply

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