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Cooking with Eggplant and Spaghetti Squash

By Margaret Furtado, MS RD LDN CYT

All About Eggplant:

The eggplant, which is also known, in Europe, as the “aubergine,” is one of the most under-appreciated fruit in the western world.  It is closely related to the tomato and potato, and is native to southern India and Sri Lanka.  The fruit is a fleshy berry, which contains numerous small, soft seeds. 


Eggplant is a nutrition “bargain” in that it is low in calories, low in saturated fat (this is an artery-clogging, unhealthy fat), and also low in sodium (salt) and cholesterol.  It is high in dietary fiber, which may lower your risk for certain cancers, and is also high in nutrients such as folate, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin K, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B 6, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorus and copper.  This makes this tasty, versatile vegetable a wonderful addition to a healthy diet, including when you’re ready to eat vegetables after your weight loss surgery.


Eggplant Parmesan
Our classic eggplant parmesan provides not only fiber, but also calcium (from the part-skim milk mozzarella cheese, as well as the parmesan cheese).  Since weight loss surgery may increase your body’s calcium needs, enjoy this tasty dish that is also good for you!



1 large eggplant (about 1 1/4 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 cans (11 ounces each) tomato sauce, no salt added

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 cup part skim-milk mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese


Method of Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C, or gas mark 5). Spray a 9- x 13-inch (22.5- x 32.5-cm) baking dish with cooking spray.

Remove the skin and stem from the eggplant with a vegetable peeler or a small kitchen knife. Cut the eggplant into 1/4-inch (6-mm) circles and arrange them overlapping in the prepared baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the eggplant slices with the salt. Drizzle the oil on top of the eggplant. Distribute the onions evenly on top of the eggplant. Pour the tomato sauce evenly on top of the eggplant, allowing it to disperse throughout the slices. Evenly sprinkle the basil, oregano, parsley, and thyme on top of the sauce. Spread the mozzarella and Parmesan over the top. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.


Yield: Makes 6 (about 1-cup) servings


Nutritional Facts per Serving

Calories: 138.6 Protein: 6.7 g Carbohydrates: 14.7 g Total Fat: 6.0 g Saturated Fat: 2.6 g Cholesterol: 10.7 mg Sodium: 233.9 mg Sugars: 7.2 g Fiber: 5.1 g

All About Spaghetti Squash:


Spaghetti squash (also called vegetable spaghetti, vegetable marrow, noodle squash or squaghetti) is an oblong, seed-bearing fruit.  It can range in color/hue from ivory to yellow, and its center contains many large squash seeds.  Its flesh is bright yellow.


When cooked, spaghetti squash flesh falls away from the fruit in ribbons or strands, like spaghetti.  Although it tastes nothing like spaghetti, this squash has a mild, slight sweetness to it.  It’s important not to overcook it, though, since it will then become crunchy and watery, like a cucumber.


Spaghetti squash is very versatile…it can be baked, boiled or steamed, and also may be served with sauce as for pasta, or used as a vegetable base for macaroni and cheese.  Since many weight loss surgery patients may not tolerate traditional pasta, even several months post-op, the squash version here provides a tasty, lower-calorie alternative.


In addition to being delicious, spaghetti squash provides many nutrients, including folic acid, potassium, and vitamin A.


Spaghetti Squash with Pomodoro Sauce:

The addition of tomatoes here is the source of the “pomodoro” title in this recipe.  Tomatoes, in reality, are more of a fruit than a vegetable, are recognized for their ability to help decrease heart disease.   Tomatoes contain many antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C and E, as well as zinc, and a powerful, anti-cancer agent called lycopene.   Tomatoes are also high in potassium, which some people may not get enough of after surgery if the diet is low in fruits and vegetables.  This is a wonderful substitute for pasta in a delicious sauce. So enjoy this tasty fruit, and cheers to your good health!



1 medium spaghetti squash (enough to yield 2 cups cooked)

1 1/2 cups water

1 can (14 1/5 ounces) diced tomatoes in juice, no salt added

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 tablespoons white wine or chicken broth or vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

Fresh parsley sprigs


Method of Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375° (190°C).

Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out and discard the seeds. Place the halves in a baking dish, skin sides up. Add the water to the baking dish and bake about 40 minutes, until the squash will gently peel away from the skin with a fork.

In a 1- or 2-quart saucepan, place the tomatoes with juice, garlic, wine or broth, salt, white pepper, and oil, cover, and bring to a simmer. Once a simmer is reached, remove the cover and continue cooking for 20 minutes.

For a smoother consistency, an emersion blender can be used to slightly puree the sauce.

Remove the cooked spaghetti squash by gently peeling away from the skin with a fork. Arrange in 1-cup mounds on serving plates or in serving bowls as you would pasta and top with the sauce. Garnish with the cheese and parsley.


Yield: Makes 4 (about 3/4-cup) servings


Nutritional Facts per Serving

Calories: 96.5 Protein: 1.8 g Carbohydrates: 10.2 g Total Fat: 4.0 g Saturated Fat: 0.7 g Cholesterol: 0.3 mg Sodium: 274.7 mg Sugars: 4.3 g Fiber: 2.1 g