This piece was originally written for Health Alliance’s Blog and features information about Health Alliance’s products and services. Visit that site for more on my healthy journey and many more health and insurance subjects.

I love a good steak as much as the next meat-eater, but changing to a healthier diet has also meant eating more vegetables than meat. Sometimes, that also means it’s a great idea to try eating vegetarian meals.

Rally has a challenge for just this, called Meatless Days. They ask you to “Skip meat for a day and explore tasty vegetarian protein sources such as tofu, beans, lentils, quinoa, and nuts. It’s good for you, easier on the budget, and eco-friendly too.”

When I went on vacation to Nashville, I’d tried eggplant for the first time. We’d gotten a free appetizer that was eggplant marinated in tomato sauce and other goodness. It was incredibly delicious.

Ever since, I’ve been wanting to learn to cook eggplant myself. This week, inspired by the eggplant recipes I ran on social media earlier in the month, and trying an official meatless day, I made Eggplant Parmesan for the first time.

As I’ve mentioned before, when I cook, I rarely follow recipes or measure things out. But, since I’ve never made this before, I did use this recipe for reference, however I made much less since I was dining for one.

I started by slicing my eggplant into thick slices, about a 1/4 of an inch. Then, I laid them out on a rack and salted them well and left them for 2 hours, to draw the excess water out.

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Once I’d dried off my eggplant, I set up three different bowls to bread the eggplant, one flour, one beaten eggs, and one breadcrumbs and parmesan. Dredge each piece in flour first, then dip in the eggs, then carefully coat in breadcrumb mixture.

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Lay the breaded eggplant out on a foil-covered cookie sheet in a single layer. Drizzle the tops of each piece lightly with olive oil and bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes. After 8-10 minutes, flip all the pieces over so both sides get golden brown.

While the eggplant is cooking, make spaghetti following the directions on the box. (I used whole wheat organic spaghetti.)

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While these are both cooking, you can also start making your favorite tomato sauce recipe. Or if you’re like me and it’s a busy weeknight, you can use a jar of sauce.

I heated up just over half a jar of my favorite store-bought sauce on the stove. I added a dash of garlic powder, salt and pepper, a teaspoon of sugar, and 2 handfuls of sliced grape tomatoes. I let this stew together on the stovetop for 15-20 minutes, to begin to break down the fresh tomatoes.

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If you’re going to use fresh mozzarella, slice or grate it now. I chose to use store-bought, low-fat mozzarella which was already shredded, both to save time and calories.

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Pull your eggplant out of the oven and lower your oven temperature to 350°F. Spread a little bit of your tomato sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer your eggplant slices on top of it. Top with more of your tomato sauce and your mozzarella and more parmesan.

If you’re making it for one, I used the rest of my tomato sauce and only made one layer. If you’re making a big batch, you will add more than one layer of eggplant, and so you should portion out your sauce and cheese accordingly. Bake for another 10-20 minutes until everything is warm, melted, and bubbly.

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Serve on top of your spaghetti. (I topped mine with a little extra pepper.)

I can honestly say this meal lived up to how delicious it looks. It is rich and so tasty, and packs a big serving of vegetables. Chicken parmesan has long been a family favorite, and I can honestly say that this is just as satisfying.

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Making healthy changes, like meatless days, doesn’t have to be a sacrifice! It just takes a little searching for a good recipe and being willing to try new things.

And you can make using Rally and tracking your goals even easier with their app, so you can check in anytime, anywhere.

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