Jersey Fresh

Jersey Fresh!

By: Jacqueline Gomes, RD, MBA

On the East Coast, we are fortunate to have a variety of locally grown produce options available to us.  From peaches, blueberries, and tomatoes, to green peppers, eggplant and squash! There’s no shortage of good for you fruits and veggies here!

  • Local produce is a nutrition powerhouse, since it has a shorter distance to travel from farm to store, it is less likely that the nutritive value will have decreased.
  • Food that has a longer distance to travel will lose more nutrients along the way.
  • Local produce is full of flavor, it’s picked at its peak of ripeness and can often make it to shelf within 24 hours – now that’s fresh!

Why purchase locally grown?

It’s seasonal which translates to freshness: Although you can find many fruits and vegetables such as strawberries for instance year round, they are not at their “in-season” best in January. However, when they are at their seasonal peak, they are full of flavor and color which means they’ll taste their best!

Local food benefits the environment and wildlife. Well-managed farms provide ecosystem services: they conserve fertile soil, protect water sources, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The farm environment is a patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, ponds and buildings that provide habitat for wildlife in our communities.*

*Source: University of Vermont. Cultivating Healthy Communities extension.

No Fry Eggplant Parmesan

no fry Eggplant Parmesan

Prep: 10 minutes

Bake: 35 minutes

Makes: 4 Servings


  • 1 Large Eggplant (~1.25 lbs)
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 10 oz. part-skim Ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • 5 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1 ¾ cup prepared marinara sauce (no sugar added)
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley


  1. Slice Eggplant into ¼ inch slices. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add peppers and onions, sauté for about 5 minutes, add in garlic and cook for a few minutes more. Do not allow garlic to burn. Remove from heat.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Line with eggplant in single layer. Spray top with cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, flip eggplant and bake 10 minutes more.
  5. In a medium size bowl, combine Ricotta cheese, egg, salt, pepper and Italian season; mix well.
  6. Spread ¼ cup marinara sauce on the bottom of a baking dish followed by ½ of the chopped parsley. Assemble by layering Eggplant, ricotta mixture, peppers/onions, marinara sauce and mozzarella cheese. Continue until all layers are complete.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more. Sprinkle with remaining parsley before serving.

Recipe By: Jacqueline Gomes, RD, MBA