You may think it’s harder during the colder months to get your five servings a day of vegetables, but there are still many delicious veggies in season now. We asked Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, GALTime nutritionist and author of Nutrition At Your Fingertips, for her favorite seasonal vegetables to spice up meal time and put the healthy into your diet.
“Kale is a cruciferous vegetable--a member of the cabbage family (alongside popular vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts) that's loaded with phytochemicals (protective plant chemicals), vitamins, minerals and fiber. It's naturally low in calories, fat and sodium, and it can be served baked into chips, or added to pasta or squash or soups or it can even be used to make a smoothie," says Elisa.
GalTime Recipe Guru Camilla Saulsbury believes this hearty minestrone is perfect for the remaining blustery days in March.
Quick Kale and Quinoa Minestrone
1 tbsp olive oil
1-1/4 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium-large onion)
1-1/4 cups chopped carrots (about 2 medium carrots—no need to peel)
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 large stalks)
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
8 cups prewashed and cut kale
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
2/3 cup quinoa
8 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1-1/2 tbsp Italian herb seasoning
1 19-oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until hot. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook and stir 5 minutes. Add kale and cook and stir 1 minute.
2. Add the tomatoes with juice, quinoa, broth, and herbs and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until quinoa is cooked, about 20 minutes.
3. Place half of beans in a small bowl and coarsely mash with a fork. Stir mashed and whole beans into soup and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 6 big servings
“Artichokes are naturally low in calories, fat and sodium. They’re also a good source of vitamins and minerals including potassium, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium. Artichokes also pack in dietary fiber. They also contain a little protein and are a great source of phytochemicals, powerful plant chemicals that protect body cells against damage caused by damaging free radicals in the body and in the environment," says Elisa.
The girls at Big Girls, Small Kitchen offer up the perfect and perfectly easy steamed artichoke recipe, that can be enjoyed hot or cold.
Artichokes with Caper-Scallion Mayonnaise
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon small black capers
Salt to taste
Trim the stems of the artichokes so there is just a half inch of stalk left at the base. In a medium pot or Dutch oven, place the artichokes side by side so they are standing upright. Fill the pot with water until it covers just the base of the artichokes, about 1 inch. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat back down and simmer until the artichoke leaves are tender (I just pluck one and try it), about 40 – 50 minutes. Remove from the pot and allow to cool slightly before serving.
While the artichokes cook, whisk (you can use a fork) an egg yolk in a bowl with the Dijon mustard and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Slowly and steadily pour in the oil, whisking constantly. The mixture should thicken up quickly. When you’ve finished pouring in the oil, add the additional lemon juice, scallions, and capers. Taste for salt, and serve alongside the artichokes. Makes 2 servings.
#4 SWEET POTATOES
This pick is likely to be the most popular with some picky eaters:
“Sweet Potatoes are simply delicious. They're a great source of complex carbohydrates and fiber, and also pack in carotenoids (specifically beta-carotene) as well as vitamin C and potassium. They're also very low in fat and are relatively low in calories. They're very flavorful and can be served baked and whole, baked in the form of french fries, or mashed. They can also be used to make potato pancakes (baked or flash fried in a small amount of vegetable oil)."
Big Girls, Small Kitchen contributes a unique, but delicious recipe for sweet potatoes, especially good for feeding crowds.
Curried Sweet Potato Quesadillas
2 ½ lb sweet potatoes, quartered
1 tbsp curry powder (add more depending on how spicy)
½ lime, juiced
2 tbsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup black beans, drained
Cayenne (optional, if your curry powder isn’t hot enough)
12oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 tortillas, traditional or whole wheat Preheat the oven to broil.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the quartered potatoes until a knife easily slips in and out, about 20 minutes depending on the size of the pot. Place the cooked potatoes in a colander and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Remove the skins and dice the cooked potatoes—the chunks should be fairly small, but no need to be uniform.
In a medium sized bowl, mix the potatoes together with the remaining ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add salt and spice (cayenne) as necessary. Gently stir in the blakc beans.
On a flat work surface, assemble each quesadilla one at a time: sprinkle a small handful of cheese on one side of the tortilla, spread a spoonful of potato mixture on top, and sprinkle with another small helping of cheese. Fold the tortilla in half and press down to make sure the quesadilla adheres. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
Arrange the quesadillas on two cookie sheets. Place in the hot oven and broil until golden brown on the top and the cheese is melted through. Filling makes 8-10