I have discovered that one of the keys to eating more vegetables is having more vegetables available. And by “available” I do not mean sitting, happily dirt-encrusted, at the Farmer’s Market. Or even in the depths of my crisper drawer. I mean washed, prepped and ready to eat.
Crudites are the obvious answer, but it gets boring eating crudites. I mean, carrot sticks, in addition to winning the lifetime achievement award for “the only vegetable kids will reliably eat” have the unfortunate connotations of “diet food.” And even ranch dressing doesn’t help, as I’ve found my tolerance for bottled salad dressing has waned as I’ve gotten older. (Was that an unbearably Paltrow-esque and precious thing to say? I’m clearly channeling my inner GOOP. It’s just, well, goopy). We could (and have) roasted large amounts of vegetables on the weekend for snacking on the rest of the week, but that takes quite a bit of foresight. Salads are clearly another great answer, but lettuce can be a wee bit delicate for the depths of my crisper drawer, and don’t even think about dressing it in advance.
Broccoli salad, now, there’s the ticket. It has the advantages of sturdiness, and anything with broccoli imparts that aura of good health. My kids will sometimes eat it (though the Nuni’s BFF complained that it was “spicy”. Five year olds find currants to be “spicy.” Be warned.) I can make it one day and the leftovers are perfect for noshing the next day, and the next.
Continue reading Broccoli Salad with Yogurt Dressing
Nothing really sings of spring like Asparagus. The little stalks, poking up so proudly, and tasting so very green are the essence of all that is springtime. Asparagus was a seasonal vegetable before eating seasonally was cool – I remember eating lots of asparagus during my childhood, but only in the springtime. (Do not speak to me of the horror that is frozen asparagus or – shudder – CANNED asparagus. Part of the point of asparagus is its texture – that perfect balance between crisp and yielding with just a tiny snap as your teeth close on the stalk.
Continue reading Roasted Asparagus with Creamy Tomato Sauce
When I was a kid, we mostly ate salads. My dad was not a vegetable-lover, and with a few notable exceptions (artichokes and asparagus) we primarily consumed our vegetables raw. As a result, I held a deep-seated prejudice against most forms of cooked vegetables. I rejected red peppers. I scoffed at spinach. I pooh-poohed parsnips. But the worst offender in my young mind was cooked carrots. (Possibly because this is one of those kid-friendly foods people were always trying to serve to me.) I despised and loathed cooked carrots. They were anathema, and not a morsel of the reviled substance passed my lips.
Fast forward several years to New York City, circa 2002. I was browsing the shelves of my favorite used bookstore in Soho (Housing Works. Wooden bookshelves, leather chairs, a little cafe in the back, a library ladder …) when I stumbled on a copy of the classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Child, Bertholle and Beck. Then, as now, I was lazy (let’s call it “time-pressed” – I was, after all, in law school) so I skipped through the eight-page cassoulet recipe or the 36-hour Boeuf Bourguignon, and lit upon the vegetables. Carrots, braised in butter. Six ingredients, two sentences. I was sold.
I cut up my carrots, added my butter, my water, my salt, my sugar, and what resulted was a revelation. Not nasty. Not watery. Not insipid. Carrots expressing everything glorious about carrots except the crunch. I was hooked. And that recipe, that first start, got me cooking more vegetables. which has brought me to my year of living vegetally. Because here’s the secret about vegetables. They are good for you. They are full of vitamins and nutrients. They have fiber and antioxidants, and you can feel morally superior when you eat them. But if we prepare them correctly and season them well, they are DELICIOUS. My husband and I were fighting over this particular batch.
Continue reading Garlic Butter Glazed Carrots with Mint
The Super Bowl, oddly enough, seems to be one of the biggest food holidays of the year. I don’t know why it’s more food-centric than the Fourth of July, or Easter, or Cinco de Mayo, but there you have it. I myself am not a huge fan of professional football (LA hasn’t had an NFL team since I was in elementary school, which lessens the thrill somewhat) but I can always get behind a party. Especially a party that involves those semi-junky foods that you always want to eat but usually don’t because they are not good for you. Foods like buffalo wings, potato chips with onion dip, and jalapeno poppers.
This year, however, I am trying to eat more vegetables, and last time I checked, buffalo wings are not vegetables. In the past, I have scoffed at “healthy” Superbowl recipes. The whole point of Superbowl food is that it’s unhealthy. Nobody wants to eat kale chips while watching men pummel each other in freezing cold weather. This year, though, I saw my vegetable challenge as a Super bowl challenge too – could I come up with a healthi-ER recipe that doesn’t feel like a compromise? Something that’s so delicious you want to eat it MORE than the meaty alternative?
I don’t mean to brag, but I think I’ve accomplished just that. Little sliders (fun to eat!, finger food that one can eat on the couch while watching the TV), made from mushroom caps (We’ll ignore the fact that for purposes of the challenge, mushrooms aren’t exactly Vegetables. They are like vegetables.) oozing with garlic butter and melted cheese. Forget the Super Bowl. I want to eat these EVERY day. (And I could, too- they do contain butter and cheese, but it’s not excessive.) They’re so good that nobody will notice they’re eating healthi(er) food because they’ll be too busy licking their fingers and asking for more.
Continue reading Garlic Butter Mushroom Sliders
If you’re eating vegetables for their health benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find something betthan than kale. Low in calories, full of fiber, and rich in vitamins, A,C and K, it’s commonly referred to as a “nutrition powerhouse.” Of course, I’m not the first person to discover this, so there are recipes all over creation trying to make kale, which can be challenging, palatable. This one actually succeeds. You may think that there are no new frontiers to be conquered with regards to kale salad, but you would be mistaken. This kale salad is epic. This kale salad is the one that people go back for seconds for on a buffet. This kale salad caused my five year old to utter the words, “Sigh. MOOOOOMMM. Why can’t you just make kale salad again?” (She is five going on fifteen). This kale salad will CHANGE YOUR LIFE.
Continue reading Meyer Lemon Kale Salad