Eggplant Parmesan: Gluten-free and family friendly

Nora’s portion of Eggplant Parmesan. Note that this is in an individual size ramekin, approx. 3 oz.

Ok, gluten-free is true. Family-friendly depends on who you ask. Anders would beg to differ. But you can also make this basic recipe for the whole family alongside your weighed keto-portion from the same ingredients. And I loved it.

When Nora tried it, she said “yummy.” But Ted had to spoon it up for her as the meal went on. Doing gymnastics on her patio chair was far more interesting than her meal. It wasn’t a “make this again please!” but it didn’t bomb either.

Yesterday afternoon we worked in the garden. We harvested our one pioneering Hokkaido squash (Margie, I think you are right that it is not a Hubbard, and Cora can confirm), about a pint of Good Mother Stallard heirloom beans that the kids shelled with me, and Nora enthusiastically brought in a few Little Fingers Eggplant and a green pepper.

Nora really wanted to eat one of those beautiful little eggplants. And we had to wonder how these plants are related to eggs. Turns out that early Europeans grew a white ornamental variety that looked just like goose eggs. Hence the name. But now we grow these beautiful deep purple eggplants and adore the color eggplant.

When Nora wants to try a new vegetable, I am on it. So while the kids watched Word Girl and Wild Kratts (thank goodness for late afternoon PBS programming), I made eggplant parmesan. The foundational recipe came from here: Baked Eggplant Parmesan. But I substituted flaxseed meal for the bread crumbs and flour for all of us and made a much smaller batch overall. For the whole family, you can follow the example of Nora’s recipe and just do the same procedure without weighing. I used 1 egg total: beat it with a bit of water, measured out Nora’s 8 grams, then used up the rest on the 2 regular eggplants for the rest of the family. You could also add ground pork sausage or beef if you want it meaty, but that would have been too much protein in this meal for Nora.

As always, calculate your own recipes with your own KetoCalculator. This is a guide for proportions that worked with this recipe, but if you are using different brands of cheese or making other variations, but sure of what you are feeding to your keto kid.

Nutrition information for 1 serving of Eggplant Parmesan. Analysis by

Eggplant Parmesan
10 g olive oil
35 g eggplant
8 g egg, beaten with a bit of water
6 g of Parmesan Cheese, grated
3 g Bob’s Red Mill flaxseed meal
25 g Muir Glen Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
10 g Whole Milk Mozzarella
optional: fresh or dried oregano (not included in calculations here, but I added them to the dish for the rest of the family)

 Measure the olive oil into a smallish oven-safe dish, big enough to hold your eggplant slices in a single layer. Preheat the oven to 400, placing the dish with the oil into the oven while it is preheating and you are preparing the eggplant slices.

The measured ingredients for Nora’s Eggplant Parmesan. One Little Finger Eggplant from our garden was 35 g. Next, 8 g of scrambled raw egg. Then 3 g of flaxseed meal mixed with 6 g of shredded parmesan. All must get into the recipe.

Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds. If you are using a full-sized eggplant, you could cut it into smaller bite-sized pieces which will eliminate the need to cut it at the table.

Measure the beaten egg on to a small shallow dish. Measure the flaxseed meal and parmesan on to another small shallow dish and mix them well. You could also add some salt or dried herbs to the mix if you like.

Nora’s eggplant slices ready for baking. Note that I scraped the remaining egg, flax and cheese onto the eggplant slices to incorporate all of the measured ingredients into the recipe.

Coat each slice of eggplant with the egg. Then dredge each in the flax-parmesan mixture. My fingers got coated with the mixture as well, so make sure that you have a rubber spatula on hand to scrape as much back into the mix as possible. You’ve measured these ingredients and accounted for them, so they might as well get into the kid.

When you have all of the eggplant coated, take the pre-heated oil and dish out of the oven and lay the eggplant slices in a single layer. They will start to fry if you’ve let it heat up enough, so it won’t get soggy with oil. After you have them all in the pan, scrape any remaining egg over the slices, then scrape any remaining flax and parmesan over them. You want to get it all in there and it will bake together nicely. I had very little of the egg and coating leftover to scrape back in, so the proportions were just about right.

Put the pan back in the oven and cook at 400 for 5 to 7 minutes. Turn the slices over and return to the oven for another 5-7 minutes to cook the other side.

The finished eggplant slices. The family portion on the left, from regular-sized eggplants from the farmers’ market. Nora’s portion on the right, from the finger-eggplants out of our garden.

When the keto-portion of eggplant went into the oven, I made the eggplant slices for the family dish with the leftover egg and mixed up more flax-parmesan mix. They went into the oven in stages of 7-10 minutes in 2 pie pans because they were larger pieces of eggplant. The timing is not too critical, as long as the eggplant gets cooked on each side and is in the oven long enough to cook through and soften.

While eggplant is in the oven, weigh the tomatoes and mozzarella. When the keto-eggplant portion is done cooking, scoop some of the oil out of the pan with your rubber spatula and put it into a small ramekin or other ovenproof dish. Put 1/2 of the tomatoes on the bottom of the dish. Scape everything out of the eggplant baking dish into the ramekin, making sure to get all of the oil out. Top with the remaining tomatoes and mozzarella. Return to the oven for another 5-10 minutes to heat through and melt the mozzarella.

Same procedure to finish the family portion. Use the rest of the can of tomatoes or any sauce you wish, topping with meat if desired and cheese.

There are a lot of steps here and is not a quick meal, but it’s also not technically difficult to pull off and makes a meal for everyone. It would be worth keeping in your back pocket for a special occasion or weekend if you like Italian and want a special meal. It would also be easy to make a few portions at a time to be reheated another night.

The keto-version is very similar to the original version and was not overly oily, making it great for all of us (although I eyeball the oil for the family portion). That said, it is only about a 1.75:1 ratio, so you will have to supplement with other fat. Nora had some kalamata olives on the side, which are 4.5:1 on their own, which helped the ratio for her entire meal. Her bedtime snack is always a cream-steamer with coconut oil and a few raspberries to end the day right.

I plan to be posting fewer recipes as our quarter at Oregon State gets busier. Actually, I should be working on a paper right now instead of blogging…



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About Christy Anderson Brekken

In no particular order... Instructor and Researcher, Department of Applied Economics, Oregon State University. Educational background: University of MN Law School, 2005. MS in Ag and Resource Economics, Oregon State University, 2011. Teaches: Agricultural Law, Environmental Law. Mother: brilliant 9 year old boy; brilliant 6 year old girl with benign myoclonic epilepsy on a modified ketogenic diet therapy. Married to: Ted Brekken, OSU Department of Electrical Engineering. Ride: Xtra-cycle Edgerunner with kid seat; 400-pound cargo capacity. Grew up: Devils Lake, ND. Lived in: Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN, Pohang, South Korea, Trondheim, Norway, Corvallis, OR. Interests: Cooking, knitting, eating, yoga, laughing, hiking, traveling, staying sane.

5 thoughts on “Eggplant Parmesan: Gluten-free and family friendly

  1. Hi,
    Thanks so much for your blog! I found it during a google search for keto recipes. My son is 14 and has medically intractable epilepsy. He is very bright and independent, we are also near vegetarians and have been told that the diet is near impossible for an independent teenager. I am optimistic ( and frankly desperate) that it could work from him. Nora’s meal plan looks a lot more doable and healthy than the bacon/ heavy cream diets that we have been shown.
    Thank again! We will be checking back! Betsy

    • Hi Betsy. I hope that you can find some relief with the diet. I do think that it would be emotionally harder for a teenager to get started, but I also hope that a bright teenager will “get it” if the diet works fast, as it does for some people. The more palatable you can make it, the easier it will be, of course.

      You will have to find ways to get more protein into him if you don’t eat much meat. We had a hard time when we started with the Modified Atkins diet because it required so much protein. I think Nora’s actually happier with the higher keto diet ratio, and her seizures are gone! Cheddar cheese and eggs are a constant. I’ve also tried some protein powders, brown rice protein and whey isolate. I moved away from them when we increased her fat and decreased her protein, but I’m still trying to use it up. Look for the Cheddar Bread recipe on the blog, with rice protein (but you could probably substitute whey isolate). Although now I weigh out the cheddar bread batter into individual muffins so that portions are properly accounted for now that we are doing a stricter keto diet.

      Make sure you get the Keto Cookbook and check out Dawn’s blog. She has some amazing recipes.

      You still have to get the fat into him. Nora really prefers drinking steamed cream to warmed cream. We got a hand-me-down espresso machine from some friends and the steamer attachment is used daily, sometimes with a drop of vanilla flavoring or a touch of cocoa powder. A simple milk frother might also do the trick. It also helps to put it in tea, like a spiced Rooibos (naturally no caffeine) or other decaf tea. Nora likes Celestial Teas Sleepytime Vanilla. Just be sure that there are no dried fruits or fruit juices in the tea mix. Otherwise it’s a “free” drink.

      There’s a bunch of extra advice! Other people with big kids have said it’s hard to get them to drink the cream, and on more calories there can be a lot of cream. I try to “hide” the fats and sneak it in. Good luck and keep us updated!

  2. I am so glad I found this blog. I would never have had the idea to cook Eggplant Parmesan. Amazing recipy and what is even better: It is so easy and clearly explained. Thanks for this great blog

  3. Pingback: Gluten Free Shop A Young Man with Autism Bakes Gluten Free | Gluten Free Shop

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