Cooking at Home: Quick Tips for Preparing 7 of Our Favorite Vegetables

Cooking At-Home: Quick Tips for Preparing 7 of Our Favorite Vegetables

Maureen Rowan Murphy

Manager Consumer Trends, Nutrition, and Lifestyles

While sheltering in place at home, many of us find ourselves cooking more, and fresh vegetables are a great addition to family meals. Part of an overall healthy diet, vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Eating enough fruits and vegetables can help boost immunity, is linked to a lower risk of many chronic diseases and may help protect against certain forms of cancer.  When it comes to vegetables, think variety and color as each color provides a different antioxidant with a different health benefit so fill your shopping cart with a spectrum of colorful veggies when shopping!

Here’s a rainbow of our colorful favorites along with quick tips for easy and delicious preparation.

Broccoli

This cruciferous veggie, high in Vitamin C and folate, and a good source of potassium and dietary fiber, is particularly delicious roasted, and once you try it, you’ll be hooked!  Toss broccoli florets (with an inch or two of stalk attached), with a little olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, salt and freshly ground pepper. Place in a preheated 425°F and roast for 20-25 minutes until crisp-tender and the tips of the florets are browned. Remove the pan from oven, toss with some lemon zest, juice of a half a lemon and grated Parmesan cheese.

Carrots

This once traditionally orange root veggie can now be found in white, yellow, red and purple, and can be enjoyed in many ways and countless dishes. Crunchy and colorful, carrots are delicious steamed, sautéed, roasted, and raw!  Make carrots more appealing to children by serving carrot “noodles” aka spiralized carrots. If you own a spiralizer, have fun with the kids and make your own or you can find them in the Produce Department at your local Price Chopper Market 32 store. Simply sauté (or boil) just until tender, and serve with a little butter or olive oil and season to taste or with a sauce that pairs well like Full Circle Peanut Satay Sauce.

Enjoy added nutrition benefits too! An excellent source of Vitamin A as well as a good source of Vitamin K, several B vitamins and potassium, carrots also contain many plant compounds especially carotenoids including beta carotene and lutein.  These carotenoids are linked to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as improved eye health. Mom knew what she was talking about when she told you to eat your carrots when you were young!

Spinach

Combine some spinach with dried cranberries, mandarin oranges, red onion and toss with your favorite vinaigrette for a quick salad or another easy go-to is sautéed spinach.  After sautéing in olive oil with crushed garlic, remove from heat, simply season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. The use of nutmeg with spinach is a classic in French cooking.

Packed with nutrients, spinach is an excellent source of fiber, is high in iron and folate, and vitamins A and C making it a smart addition at any meal.

*Remember to wash loose spinach and all leafy greens under running water for 20 seconds. Packaged, triple-washed leafy greens should not be re-washed however as that can introduce bacteria.

 Cauliflower

This trendy cruciferous vegetable is one of our favorites due to its incredible versatility and health benefits. Cauliflower contains many powerful nutrients including B-vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients that may help protect against certain diseases like cancer and heart disease. Gone are the days of boring steamed cauliflower! Today cauliflower is “riced” or mashed, cut thick like steaks and grilled, used in soups or pizza crusts and more. Its creamy texture makes it a great alternative to high carb foods like potatoes and rice. It can also be served as a lower calorie alternative to Buffalo wings, and this Buffalo Cauliflower recipe is quick and easy to prepare.

Buffalo Cauliflower

3/4 cup PICS flour

1 tsp. PICS paprika

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

¾ cup PICS milk

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets

¼ cup PICS hot sauce

2 T. PICS canola oil

1 T. PICS honey

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking oil or line with parchment paper

In a large bowl, add the flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper and milk, and mix well. Add the cauliflower florets, making sure to coat evenly. Place   cauliflower on the baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the hot sauce, oil, and honey. Brush on the cauliflower and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve with PICS light blue cheese or ranch dressing.

Bell Peppers

A staple in fajitas, stir-fries, and salsas, bell peppers are popular stuffed, and a delicious addition, roasted or raw, to omelets, salads, sauces, soups, pizzas, pastas and more. I love roasted peppers for their smoky flavor and texture. With warmer weather hopefully on the horizon, it’s easy to roast them right on the grill. Simply place peppers on the grill over a medium flame.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, giving them a quarter of a turn with tongs every few minutes, until the peppers are charred and soft. Seed, peel and enjoy in your favorite recipes!

With a variety of colors to choose from, bell peppers are rich in many vitamins and antioxidants, especially Vitamin C. Red, yellow, orange and even purple peppers start out as green, and their color and taste change depending upon how long they are left on the vine to ripen. Red peppers pack the biggest nutrition punch because they remain on the vine longer than the others.

Asparagus

There are so many delicious ways to prepare and serve. Asparagus can be blanched, roasted, grilled, baked, or sauteéd. It can be added to salads, soups, pastas, breakfast dishes like frittatas, quiches and Eggs Benedict, wrapped with prosciutto for an easy appetizer or served as a simple side like this favorite of mine. Place spears in a large bowl and drizzle with melted butter. Toss to coat. Arrange asparagus in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Squeeze fresh lemon juice over the asparagus. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt to taste and Parmesan cheese. Place in a preheated 400°F oven, and roast for 15-18 minutes until asparagus is lightly browned and crisp-tender.

Don’t miss out on the many health benefits this harbinger of spring has to offer. High in fiber and folate, and packed with vitamins like A, C, E and K, asparagus, especially purple, is also full of anthocyanins, an antioxidant that may help the body fight damaging free radicals. 

 

 

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