Food Fitness. Nourish your body.
Most people can only eat so many raw vegetables, and some vegetables they will never eat raw at all. Cooking softens the flavor and texture of vegetables, making them much more palatable. Plus, cooking condenses them: One serving of raw spinach leaves is a full cup, but steam or stir-fry them and a serving shrinks to half a cup.
Roasting vegetables can be a satisfying, healthful way to create a hearty meal. Roasting gives vegetables a richer, sweeter flavor. Roasted in a hot oven (400-degrees), just about any vegetable takes on a sweet, caramelized flavor. Even asparagus and squash.
Combine a variety of seasonal vegetables i.e., corn, onions, peppers, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, zucchini and summer squash.
Cut large vegetables into bite-size pieces, brush with a little olive oil and add herbs and spices. Dill goes well with tomatoes, potatoes and beets. Mint is nice with corn, zucchini and red bell pepper. Rosemary is a good complement to onions and mushrooms, as thyme is to eggplant, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes and summer squash.
Place the vegetables in a roasting pan that is large enough but not crowded. Overcrowding steams vegetables and leaves them limp rather than tender. They should be basted occasionally while cooking, with broth or juice (orange or apple), and stirred gently.
Vegetables have varied cooking times, depending on their density and size. If roasting different types together, cut the denser ones in smaller sizes so that all vegetables cook and become tender at the same time.
Tomatoes, summer squash and eggplant need less cooking time than corn, rutabaga, onions, bell peppers and winter squash. Parsnips, potatoes, carrots and some squashes and beets can take up to an hour or more.
Roasted vegetables can be more than a side dish. Mound roasted vegetables on top of a cooked grain like quinoa, millet, rice, couscous, bulgur, or in a chef's salad of leafy greens and strips of grilled fish or chicken.
Vegetables have a major place in the balanced, mostly plant-based diet recommended by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) to protect against many types of cancer as well as other chronic diseases. This eating approach focuses on appropriate portions of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans.
The following recipe makes good use of vegetables. Substitute freely, depending on what's fresh at the market.
Autumn Roasted Vegetables
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
9-10 pearl onions, peeled and trimmed
2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved if large
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-1/2 cups fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped pecans for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400-degrees. In a mixing bowl, toss the vegetables with oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Transfer vegetables to a roasting pan. Add broth to pan. Roast for 45 minutes, stirring and turning carefully every 10 to 15 minutes. Check frequently for tenderness. When vegetables are almost tender, turn oven up to 425-degrees and roast 10 to 15 minutes more, until vegetables are lightly browned and tender. Serve hot, garnished with pecans, if desired. Recipe makes four servings.
Nutritional information per serving:
Calories: 121; Carbohydrates: 21g; Protein: 4g; Sodium: 260mg; Fat: 4g; Saturated Fat: Less than 1g; Fiber: 4g
Diabetic Exchanges: 3 Vegetable, 1 Fat, 1/2 Bread/Starch
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Roasted Vegetable and Rosemary Soup
This is a detoxifying soup! But it is easy to forget how detoxifying this soup is while you are enjoying the savory taste. It is packed with cleansing vegetables and nutritious extra virgin olive oil.
1 sweet potato or yam
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 average sized potatoes
1 large onion
5 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig of fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme (dried)
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
Mix all the marinade ingredients together. Chop all the vegetables (excluding the garlic) into medium sized pieces. Put all the vegetables in a large bowl. Toss them with the marinade until coated. You may need to do this in two stages, depending on the size of the bowl you are using. Spread all the vegetables on a large baking tray. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until vegetables are soft. Puree in a food processor or blender, adding hot water or stock to thin to desired consistency. Serve. Add Celtic sea salt to taste.
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