Archive for September, 2009

Roasted Vegetables

I love roasted vegetables. They are delicious and hearty and with the investment of about 15 minutes of my time, I end up with a vibrant meal with plenty of leftovers to inspire future meals. Leftovers are good cold, so they are perfect for lunches.

If I’m going to turn on the oven, I might as well fill it up, so I like to roast a variety of vegetables, plus bake some tofu or tempeh and maybe roast some chickpeas. Add some cooked rice or quinoa, and about 45 minutes later, I have a beautiful meal!

I can’t really think of many vegetablesthat aren’t delicious roasted, so go for it with whatever you have. Here are a few of my favorites; just preheat oven to 400 degrees and:

Sweet Potato Fries: wash sweet potatoes, no need to peel.  Cut into rounds or strips – whatever size you like.  Pile up on a tray with sides, then drizzle olive oil over the pile.  Use your hands to distribute the oil.  They should be well-coated, but you don’t want them cooking in pools of olive oil.  Spread out on tray and roast until they soften; check after about 15-20 minutes if they are relatively thin or 25-30 minutes for thicker fries and move them around on the tray, then watch carefully as they will brown fairly quickly once soft.  I like to let them brown a bit, but you make them however you like them!

Beet Chips: Wash and peel beets.  Cut into thin rounds.  Coat with olive oil and roast until soft and slightly caramelized.  Thinly sliced beets will cook in about 15-20 minutes.

Crispy kale: Wash kale and tear into bite-sized pieces.  Coat in olive oil and sprinkle with salt; using hands to massage the oil and salt into the kale.  This will tenderize and begin to break the kale down, so you actually stop here and give it a try to see if you like it as is.  If you want it crispy, spread it out on a tray and roast it for 10 minutes, then give it a stir on the tray and continue to roast another 5-10 minutes, or until it is slightly browned and crackles to the touch.  Sprinkle with more salt, if desired.

Roasted Cauliflower: wash cauliflower and cut into bite-sized pieces.  Mince a small clove of garlic.  Put the cauliflower and the garlic in a roasting pan or a tray with sides and coat generously with olive oil and plenty of sea salt.  Roast for about 1/2 hour-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until browned and soft.

Roasted Broccoli: same as with cauliflower, be sure to peel and slice the stalks and throw them in too!

Of course, you can also roast brussels sprouts or green beans with shallots, potatoes, winter squash, and turnips, carrots, etc, etc.  Just pick a variety of colors and go for it!


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Lunch Made Easy(ier)

My 8-year old son, Joshua, is making his own lunch (and snacks) for school now, because one too many lunches got composted at the end of the day.  And, it’s not because he didn’t like it; it was actually one of his favorites!  For any number of reasons, though, it went from my loving hands to the bus, to school, to soccer practice, and back home without so much as a bite taken.  Well, we all have our hot button issues and one of mine is waste.  I can’t stand it.  It makes me crazy.  And, believe me, my whole family stared wide-eyed as I vented and declared that I would no longer be making lunches. 

I did cool down, eventually, and realize that I will, in fact, still be making lunches for my 5-year old, because if left to his own devices, I would be getting him to school around noon with an apple, a peach, a half a watermelon and some raisins in his lunch.  For Joshua, though, this is a great opportunity for me to empower him in terms of making good food choices and taking care of himself. 

In the spirit of empowerment and teamwork, rather than sending him into the kitchen to fend for himself, I created a chart with the basic components of a balanced meal (protein, healthy carbohydrates, and vegetables) and listed foods that fit under each category.  I also made separate columns under carbohydrates for best sources, ok sources, and treats and under vegetables for the different types of veggies (leafy greens, cruciferous, root veggies, and what I call fruit-veggies, i.e. avocado, tomatoes, squash). On a separate white board, I list the foods we actually have, so he can use the two together to create his meals.   I certainly help him out when asked, but he’s pretty much got it under control with no unsolicited advice from me! He has packed fabulous lunches so far that are just as balanced and healthy as what I would choose for him.  

I wrote out the chart by hand for Joshua, because it seems easier to connect to Mom’s handwriting than a computer version (though the latter would be easier to read, I’m sure), but to give you an idea, I typed it out…unfortunately, I don’t have the faintest idea how to get it onto the blog in a readable form, so if you would like to see it, please email me at and I’ll send it to you:)

Of course, there has to be food from each of the categories available in order to make this work, but with very little extra effort, you can make that happen.  Leftovers are perfect for lunches!  

For those times when a little inspiration is called for, I’m creating a new category for lunch ideas…happy cooking!

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Late Summer Sauté

This is such a time of great abundance in Colorado.  My vegetable drawer is literally stuff full from my CSA share and the other yummy vegetables I picked up at the Farmers’ Market.  And, I know I’ll somehow find myself back at the market on Saturday, because I just have to take advantage of my ability to buy nearly everything I need from my local farmers! 

I’m sure you could all come up with this simple recipe on your own, but sometimes it’s nice to have a little inspiration.  What could be more inspiring than a delicious, beautiful meal whipped together from whatever your local farm or garden has to offer…

For one veggie-full serving, multiply as needed.

  • 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 scallion or small shallot and/orsmall clove of garlic, etc
  • 1/3 of a medium-sized zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 1/3 of a medium-sized yellow squash, quartered and sliced
  • 1/3 cup broccoli, chopped (you know to peel and eat the delicious stalk, right?)
  • any additional veggies you have in your fridge, chopped (chard, kale, cauliflower, etc)
  • 1 small tomato, or equivilant, chopped
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup cooked black beans (or the bean of your choice)
  • salt, pepper, and herbs to taste

Heat a medium-sized pan to medium heat and pour in the olive oil.  Add the scallions, spread around the pan, then add the zucchini and squash without stirring yet.  Let cook, undisturbed, until scallion starts to brown (if you are using garlic, this will happen more quickly).  Stir so that zucchini and squash are now spread in a layer in the pan and cook for a few minutes, until they start to brown.  Add remaining veggies, tomato, and beans, season with salt, pepper and whatever herbs you like (I like basil or oregano, or sometimes skip this part), then cover pan and cook until tomatoes are broken down and vegetables are tender-crisp, or as tender as you like them.  You can also stir in some grain here, if desired.  Taste and adjust seasonings and enjoy a beautiful, colorful, delicious late Summer meal!

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