Inspiring you to make healthy food and choices one step at a time

January 23, 2010

Roasted Vegetables- The Basics

Vegetables are a mainstay of a healthy eating plan. They supply antioxidants, vitamins, and fiber all wrapped up in a low calorie package. Eating them raw is best but not always practical. The USDA recommends 9-13 servings a day. That’s not easy; it takes a conscious effort.

One thing’s for sure though, we can start with having a lot more variety! Vegetables have all the colors of the rainbow, every shape and texture, along with strong to mild flavors. Grocers and produce stands have more to choose from than ever before. The problem with most of our meal plans is that we have no variety. It’s the same ol’ vegetables day in and day out, no wonder we get tired of them.

Let’s start with a plan of adding more veggies at dinner. Go to your local produce stand (or grocer) and get one vegetable to add each evening. Don’t worry about the amount or if it’s organic; organic is best but just begin with what you can do today. No fancy recipes needed either.

When you get home, take 15 minutes and soak them in a sink filled with water and ¼ cup apple cider vinegar. This gets the dirt, bacteria, and pesticide residue off as much as possible. Rinse and let dry or wipe with towel. (Mushrooms should be brushed off and not rinsed.) When you have the produce already rinsed, it’s a real time saver for later and you’re more likely to quickly “grab and add” to the meal.

The idea is to keep the cooking simple but maintain variety. The less water you use the better, when you cook veggies. Steaming is good but we really like the ease and flavor of roasting. I have found that 400 degrees for 15 minutes is the most optimal cooking approach, with minimal damage. The size you cut the vegetable is the only change. Broccoli and cauliflower florets are a little bigger than bite size. Brussel sprouts are usually cut in half. Most mushrooms can be left whole. After trimming asparagus ends, place in a single layer to cook whole. With a little practice, you’ll find the size that is best suited for each vegetable. You want it cooked but with a little crunch.

Here’s the best part. Immediately after you take the veggies from the oven, lightly pour extra virgin olive oil over the veggies and sprinkle lightly with sea salt or kosher salt. The buttery oil with the coarse salt is delicious together and you’ll never miss the butter.

Start with asking yourself or your family, “What are my top 3 vegetable favorites?” Try to vary the colors. Then add 1 or 2 “not so favorite” or “never tried” to give some variety. Mix them up or serve one at a time. The choice is yours.

Remember Vary the color and add Variety to promote your Vegetable success.

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