Friday, March 6, 2015

Don't just eat your veggies, love them too!

When I was growing up there were some veggies I knew I didn't like. Then there were veggies that I had never tasted, and didn't plan to. Then there was that small window of veggies that I actually liked. But how many times can you eat broccoli with cheese sauce and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole in your life without starting to get bored? (and eventually realizing that those aren't really the healthiest presentations of veggies anyway??)

This past year I have grown to LOVE vegetables. Like, love them so much that if I reach for seconds of something, it's likely going to be the veggies. Like, love them so much that half my cart is filled with vegetables every time I leave the grocery store. Love them so much that I plan my meals around my "sides" rather than my "main dishes"... love them so much that I don't think a veggie exists anymore that I don't want to try. I want to shout it from the rooftops, because I actually enjoy eating healthy food and don't feel one bit guilty about feeling full when I leave the table. So I thought I'd share some of my revolutionary, life-changing, full of deliciousness ways that I prepare vegetables now. Hmm... where to start, there are so many good ones! 

[One disclaimer before beginning... my main problem in becoming a food blogger is that I live in real life. Which means that I am typically preparing dinner at dinner time. In not ideal lighting conditions for those pretty, natural light food photos that make all our mouths water. And with four dudes waiting with hungry stomachs for whatever it is I'm preparing. It's really not cool with them if I pause to style a plate, take it to a natural light setting, and give it it's own mini photo session before sitting down at the table to pray and eat together. So, please understand my lack of pretty photos and just trust me that you want to try some of these things without the mouth-watering photo specifically of the dish I am talking about to convince you. I've instead chosen to include random photos of healthy things-taken in broad daylight and not whilst preparing dinner-as eye-candy only. Thanks for understanding. ;) ]

Let's start with cabbage. 

Honey Mustard Roasted Cabbage to be exact. 

1/2 head of cabbage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon honey (orange blossom honey if you have access to it!)
1/2 cup bread panko crumbs 
sea salt + pepper

In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil with the honey and mustard. Whisk to combine. The remaining 1 tablespoon of oil can be used to coat your baking sheet.Slice the cabbage into thick wedges. Brush the wedges with the honey mustard glaze. Sprinkle on the bread crumbs. Then season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400°F for 35-40 minutes until the edges begin to turn dark brown and look crispy. [This recipe is adapted ever so slightly from A Beautiful Mess]

You guys. This recipe is amazing. It is so delicious and so, so easy. 

If you need to use up the rest of the cabbage I highly recommend this recipe for warm cabbage and noodle salad, also from A Beautiful Mess. I understand that ramen noodles aren't your most nutritionally loaded food or anything, but I am ok with that since you're adding all that cabbage, carrots, cilantro, peanuts, lime etc. It's like homemade lo mein only better. 

Moving on to more cabbage goodness, how about some sweet sesame lime cabbage salad? 
mmmm.... :) 

For the salad:

12 oz. shredded cabbage

1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
large handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
(also good with kale or raw broccoli florets added as well)
For the dressing:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons diced sweet onion
2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil, or to taste
Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Adjust flavors to taste.Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl, and toss well with the prepared dressing. (I like to shake it together in a sealed glass tupperware.) Allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving. 

Ok, well I think I'll give cabbage a break and move along to: 
Roasted Root Vegetables

So many variations and flavors you can play with here. :) 

What you'll need: 
Assorted root vegetables (Start with carrots, onions and potatoes- red or sweet or both- then add in any other root vegetables you like... celery root, parsnips, beets, radishes, etc.) 
Olive oil (I use organic extra virgin) 
Seasonings (fresh herbs are best... rosemary, thyme and minced garlic and sea salt are my go to seasonings. I use fresh in the summer when I have them in my garden and dried in the winter) 

Chop chop chop. Spread your veggies out over a cookie sheet in a single layer. Drizzle olive oil over all. Sprinkle seasonings on top. Roast at 375 degrees for approx 45 minutes. Do not flip during cooking time... you want them to get that nice seared layer on the bottom, they will release from the pan once they are nice and hot. I usually make at least two cookie sheets full of this... We eat a whole one for dinner and then I love to warm up the leftovers for lunch the next day. 

And my other new favorite vegetable... 

brussel sprouts!! 

It is possible to quarter them, saute' them in olive oil with some diced onion, add a little minced garlic and top with crumbled bacon.... quite yummy... but my favorite way is as follows. 

Rinse, halve and spread brussel sprouts on a baking sheet. Chop 1 head of cauliflower and spread with brussel sprouts. Drizzle with olive oil, honey, minced garlic and sea salt. Roast at 375 for 45 minutes. If you want to turn this into a meal, you can also add cooked gnocchi and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. MMMM... (it's on my menu for the week!) 

Can we talk about 
in a post about veggies? I know they are technically a fruit.... but lets just include them here too.

In the summer I love to slice them, spread them in a glass dish, drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, top with mozerella cheese and fresh basil and top with a sprinkle of garlic salt and italian seasonings. It's fancy name is Caprese. 
My other favorite, and very similar, way to have them is to chop up tomatoes into bite sized pieces, mix with chopped mozerella, and add the same seasonings (balsamic, olive oil, italian seasonings and garlic salt) and let it marinate in the refrigerator. The only thing different from above is that there is no fresh basil in this and that because it is finely chopped it can be stored in a container and used on salads or lettuce wraps or as a dip as you see fit. 

If you like green beans 
but need a new way to try them, saute' them (I use the thin whole green beans for this recipe) in olive oil with diced onion and minced garlic, when they are soft enough transfer to serving dish and top with slivered almonds (and pomegranates too!) 

Sweet potatoes... 
So delicious just wrapped in some foil with a little sea salt and butter and baked at 400 degrees for 2 hours. But if you want another fun version, chop them up, boil the pieces for about 5 to 10 minutes until they start to soften, then transfer to an iron skillet and saute' in olive oil with onion, minced garlic, rosemary, sea salt and a bit of brown sugar until it all begins to caramelize together and the potatoes are nice and soft. Oh my goodness... sweet potato heaven in your mouth. 

Lastly... We love to juice here. If you have a juicer I HIGHLY recommend using oranges, apples and a lime as your base, then adding some carrots and/or spinach. You can't taste the vegetables at all, and the orange/apple/lime juice is simply divine. Our kids love to help make it (and drink it!) too. :) 
I realize that was a highly disorganized post as far as layout and there was a lot of different recipes I threw out there. The ones I mentioned are as follows, if you missed them somehow you can scroll back through and find them :) 

Honey Mustard Roasted Cabbage
Warm Cabbage & Noodle Salad
Sweet Sesame Lime Cabbage Salad
Roasted Root Vegetables
Sauteed Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Roasted Honey Brussel Sprouts & Cauliflower (with gnocchi and pistachios) 
Caprese (and it's refrigerated caprese salad version) 
Sauteed Green Beans with Slivered almonds and pomegranates
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Sauteed Rosemary Sweet Potatoes 
Orange Apple Lime Juice (with fruit and veggies) 

Hope this gets your ideas going for some new ways to start preparing your veggies so that they become your new favorite part of your meal! :) 

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