Powerhouse Vegetables – Part I
We’ve all heard that vegetables are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You may view future posts in this series here and here. We also know they’re an essential part of a healthy diet. But did you know they can also be tasty, filling and the best ingredients for some of your favorite recipes? When you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen, try adding some of these powerhouse vegetables to pasta, soup, salads and more. We reap health benefits from all vegetables, yet many stand out due to their nutrient dense composition. In other words, foods that provide a lot of nutrients for a low number of calories, basically you’re getting a bigger bang for your buck!!!
Broccoli the Green Giant
Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family. It has large flower heads that look like tiny trees. Broccoli is high in fiber, vitamins C, K, iron, and potassium and has some protein, approximately 3 grams in a cup. Broccoli is rich in antioxidants and plant compounds that may contribute to reducing the risk of cancer, lowering cholesterol, and boosting eye health.
Carrots the Colorful Carotenoid
Carrots are a root vegetable, and they get their bright color from beta-carotene, an antioxidant your body converts into vitamin A. It only takes a half cup of carrots to provide approximately 73% of your daily value of vitamin A. Carrots are a great source of other important vitamins, minerals, and they’re high in fiber. Their antioxidants have been linked to lower cholesterol levels, better eye health and reducing the risk of cancer.
Spinach the Leafy Delight
Spinach belongs in the amaranth family and is related to beets and quinoa. It is an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable and contains vitamins C, K, folic acid, iron, and calcium. Can you believe one spinach leaf could provide over half of your daily needs of vitamin K? Eating this vegetable may promote eye health, reduce oxidative stress, help prevent cancer and reduce blood pressure levels.
Garlic the Flavorful Ingredient
Garlic is a plant in the onion family and is grown for its taste and health benefits. It contains vitamins C, B6 and manganese. Garlic is an excellent option in recipes because it adds flavor without adding fat or many calories. It can also be used as a replacement for salt if you’re trying to reduce sodium intake and still prepare food that tastes good.
Putting This All Together
Consider incorporating at least one or all these vegetable powerhouses into your weekly eating regimen. Except for garlic, the rest can be enjoyed either raw or cooked. Have fun in the kitchen with creativity and new ingredients. Check out our blog next month for Part II. To start try this Eggplant Dip recipe.
Charred Eggplant Dip
Ken Foland, Executive Chef
This tasty dip uses nutrient dense vegetables packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
- 4 each whole purple eggplant
- 1 each head of garlic
- 10 oz organic baby spinach
- 1 each lemon, juiced
- ½ tbsp Tahini
- 3 tbsp plain Greek yogurt
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 each small head of broccoli crowns
- 2 each medium sized carrots
- 4 oz apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard seed
Split eggplant in half, lengthwise. Roast for an hour, until soft. Allow to cool and remove flesh from the skin. Place to the side until needed.
Peel paper from garlic, toss with half of the oil (2T) and place in tin foil, wrap tightly. Roast in oven until soft. Remove and put to the side.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, blanch spinach for 15/20 seconds. Remove and drain.
Place eggplant pulp, spinach and remaining ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth.
Place in a serving bowl, chill until needed.
Place 2fl oz of water in a pot along with the apple cider vinegar and mustard seed.
Peel and cut carrots into 1/4" rounds.
Bring vinegar mix to a boil, add carrots and reduce to a simmer for 1-2 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Cut broccoli into bite sized pieces.
Garnish the eggplant puree with pickled carrots and broccoli florets.