When you were a kid, your parents were always telling you to “eat your vegetables,” and now while living on your own you might be realizing that your parents had a point. Vegetables are low in calories and fat, high in fiber, and contain a wide array of vitamins and nutrients. So maybe you add a bag of carrots to your lunch or eat a salad. Although vegetables have so much more potential; with a little creativity, any vegetable can be a great base to a meal. Also, vegetables don’t have to be expensive, if you buy what is in season they can be pretty cheap. Here are a few meal ideas that use a variety of vegetables as a base for some quick and easy meals.
Roasted Veggie “Fries”
Roasted veggies are one of my favorite side dishes or snacks. They are a great substitute for fries or chips and keep well in the fridge. What is so fun is that you can make up your own spice combinations so you can serve them on the side of a burger or put them in some homemade tacos!
4 or 5 carrots, peeled and cut into sticks
About half a head of broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tbsp olive oil
How to Make it:
1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, mix your chopped vegetables with olive oil, making sure that all vegetables are evenly coated.
3. Add spices to vegetables and mix with hands until all vegetables are evenly seasoned.
4. Spread vegetables out on a cookie sheet, making sure that the vegetables are evenly spaced.
5. Bake for ~ 20 minutes, or until you can easily stick your vegetables with a fork.
1 tsp salt, black pepper, ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, ½ teaspoon turmeric OR1 tsp salt, juice of one lime, 1 tsp of chilli powder, ½ tsp garlic powder OR 1 tsp salt, black pepper, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp oregano, ½ tsp red pepper flakes, grated parmesan cheese
Try your own spice combinations! This is your food and should be what you love to eat!
Note: This can be done with any combination of vegetables, some other good options are peels and sliced beets, brussel sprouts, or asparagus; although the cooking times may vary. You can also do this exact same process with sweet potatoes or regular potatoes to make a healthy version of french fries.
Fresh Green Beans with Mushroom Sauce
This recipe was inspired by one of my favorite holiday dishes, green bean casserole. Although, it is really green bean casserole’s healthier cousin that is also fast and easy to make! This recipe uses fresh green beans, which have way more nutrients than canned ones. Also, the homemade mushroom sauce is a good source of calcium.
2 cups of fresh green beans with ends chopped off
1 tsp butter
⅛ cup flour
1 ½ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ of an onion finely chopped
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup of sliced mushrooms
⅛ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus a bit more to sprinkle on top
How to Make it:
1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, once boiling drop in green beans; green beans should be cooked until they are soft enough to bite into, but still crisp; this takes about 5 minutes.
2. Once the green beans are cooked, immediately drain off the hot water and put the green beans into a bowl of ice water; doing this stops them from further cooking.
3. In a saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat; once butter is melted, while whisking, slowly mix in the flour; this should form a thick paste.
4. Slowly add about about half of the milk, whisk this in until fully incorporated with the flour-butter paste and the milk is beginning to thicken.
5. Add garlic, onion, and mushrooms to the saucepan and stir; *if you want a less intense garlic and onion flavor, you can lightly saute them until they are opaque before adding them to your sauce*.
6. Add salt and pepper to sauce.
7. Pour in the rest of the milk and stir to incorporate.
8. Allow sauce to simmer for a for a few minutes, or until it reaches desired thickness.
9. Add ⅛ cup of parmesan cheese to sauce and stir.
10. Remove the green beans from the ice bath, dry them off, cut them in half to be in bite size pieces.
11. Put green beans in the mushroom sauce and stir it all so that the green beans are coated; cook long enough to get everything to the same temperature.
12. Serve your green beans and mushroom sauce topped with a little extra parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Note: You can use this mushroom sauce on all sorts of other dishes too! One of my personal favorites is to toss in whole grain pasta and sauteed kale.
I have always thought of stir fry as a “create-your-own-adventure” sort of situation. You can make stir fry out of whatever vegetables are on sale or you have in your fridge. Similar to the roasted vegetables, you can change up the spices that you use for stir frys; if you add chili powder and lime it can be a filling for tacos, or a mix of curry and peanut butter can be a knock-out dinner as well. Think of this recipe as a place to simply start your stir fry adventures.
1 tsp olive oil
½ cup of sliced carrots
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup coarsely chopped purple cabbage
½ cup sliced green bell pepper
¼ cup soy sauce
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp wasabi powder or paste (optional)
Prepared brown rice
Pan fried chicken or tofu
How to Make it:
1. In large fry pan combine oil, onion and carrots on medium-high heat and regularly stir around.
2. When the onion has started to turn opaque, add in cabbage and bell pepper.
3. Allow this to cook for a few minutes, until the cabbage begins to soften a little .
4. Mix the soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, and wasabi in a small dish so that they are well combined and pour over the vegetables; stir this around so the vegetables are evenly coated.
5. Cook the stir fry for a few more minutes, or until the vegetables reach desired texture.
6. Top rice with stir fried vegetables.
Note: You can also add proteins, such as chicken or tofu to your stir fry really easily. The simplest way to do this is to pan fry your protein of choice in a separate pan with a light mix of the same spices you use on your vegetables and then toss your protein in with your vegetables at the very end.