• 03Dec

    Today’s post is contributed by GMM Registered Dietitian and Community Wellness Representative, Rachel Stroud

    Raise your hand if you hated Brussels sprouts as a kid.  How bout still as an adult?  You and the majority of adults everywhere!

    FallBrussWhat if the answer to liking Brussels sprouts was simple?  What if the world of delicious, colorful, tasty veggies could be open to you once again with just a few simple cooking tips?  Yes, it could be that easy.

    I can’t tell you how many people snarl and scrunch up their face when I suggest that more vegetables could be the key to accomplishing their health goals.  Instantly they see visions of mushy, olive green, overcooked side dishes, and feel the emotion of being forced to stay at the table until the dreaded [fill in your most hated vegetable] were gone.

    Most people are convinced they still dislike certain vegetables, even when they haven’t tried them since childhood.  Would you believe that your taste preferences may surprise you?  Like all other cells, tastebuds regenerate over time.  They change with age and the influence of the other foods we eat.  Believe it or not, you can train yourself to like things over time, especially when you recognize the positive benefits you get from these healthier choices.  Research shows us that it takes 20 times of trying something to develop a taste for it.  Sometimes even longer!  As you make choices toward healthy behaviors, you may be surprised at how your preferences follow.

    Other times, our preferences are influenced by our cooking methods.  This is the easiest fix!  If you’re boiling Brussels sprouts, no matter what you add, they’re still going to taste like mushy. boiled. Brussels sprouts.  If you grew up eating overcooked green beans, broccoli, or asparagus, you were justified in disliking them!

    Take some cues from GMM and let us teach you a couple of our favorite veggies cooking methods.

    st pattys broccoli1) Roasting – Roasting is when a food is exposed to dry heat over a prolonged period of time.  **This is my favorite way to cook any and all veggies.** Roasted carrots, asparagus, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, you name it.

    Toss them lightly in olive oil and leave them in a 400-degree oven until they can be poked through with a fork.  Roasting initiates a caramelization process in veggies that pulls out their natural sugars, making them instantly sweeter and less bitter.  Have you tried roasted peppers vs raw?  Roasted potatoes vs boiled?  Roasted or caramelized onions? Have you noticed the sweetness that comes out after they’ve been roasted?  That’s why roasting is my favorite.  Just wait until you try GMM’s roasted Brussels sprouts. They’ll make lovers out of any hater.

    steamed-carrots2) Steaming – Steaming gives us the cooked, softened texture we like without stripping the veggies of their nutrients or natural moisture, like boiling typically does.  Steam your veggies with a steamer basket on the stovetop for 8-10 minutes, or by putting an inch of water into a medium sized bowl along with the veggies, and microwave for 2-3 minutes.  The process of steaming helps to breakdown the toughness of raw vegetables but maintain a significant part of the moisture.  It gives you control to cook them as much as you like, while preserving color and nutrients, whether you like them softer or more al dente.  Once steamed you can toss them in a little salt, or lightly sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top, like we do at GMM with our green beans or broccoli.

    Alright…now who’s willing to give veggies another shot?  New taste buds, new cooking methods, and almost a new year! 

     

    To learn more about re-doing your veggies, watch Rachel on Atlanta & Company tomorrow morning (12/4) at 11am!

  • 15Oct
    Rosemary Roasted Butternut Squash

    Picture provided by Tasty Yummies via Flickr.com

    Bethany and I had a great response from the participants in both of our cooking demonstrations last month at Cancer Support Community/Atlanta. We presented “Simple and Gourmet Vegetable Side Dishes”. Each recipe highlighted a vegetable and a cooking technique.

    One of my favorite ways of cooking vegetable is roasting, especially during the fall and winter months. Roasting imparts a rich and intense flavor to almost any vegetable. It concentrates the flavors of the vegetable and adds sweetness through caramelization. During the class at Cancer Support Community, we demonstrated how to roast butternut squash, but there are many other types of vegetables that can be roasted. Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, beets… just to name a few!

    Want to get your roast on? Try these 10 tips:

    1. Cut vegetables into even sizes to ensure that they cook at the same rate.
    2. Toss vegetables with just enough oil to coat them – you don’t want them to be swimming in oil. The oil will help the vegetables to brown evenly and protect them from drying out. If the vegetable doesn’t have enough oil it will come out dry with spotty browning.
    3. For simple seasoning, just use salt and pepper.
    4. Evaluate your oven. It’s temperature can be off by as much as 50 degrees! Vegetables that are smaller and tenderer should be roasted at higher temperatures because they will take less time to cook through. Larger and harder vegetables should be roasted at a lower temperature to prevent burning before the vegetable is cooked through. Vegetables that have high water content (like tomatoes) can be roasted at a low temperature for a long time (about 250°F).
    5. Cook vegetables on a baking sheet that is heavy and sturdy. Avoid baking sheets that are flimsy because they will warp in the oven.
    6. For easy clean-up, spread the vegetables out on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
    7. Avoid overcrowding vegetables on the pan. Place them in a single layer. This will allow the steam to escape and the air to circulate.
    8. The cooking time will vary based on the type of vegetable, the size, your preference for doneness and your ovens actual temperature.
    9. Turn the vegetables if they are larger or harder and move them from the outside of the pan to the center. This will ensure even browning.
    10. To check for doneness, insert a knife or a fork into the vegetable. It should slide in and out with little resistance.

    Roasted vegetables are a great side dish. They can also be added to stews, risotto, sauces and used as a sandwich topping. What is your favorite vegetable to roast?

     

  • 07May

    In case you’ve missed it, one of the highlights of our new Spring/Summer menu is Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.  Until recently, I always bought this favorite of mine at the store and left the roasting of the peppers to the chefs at Sabra, Tribe, Athenos, or my local grocery.  Last Friday, that all changed.

    Our cooking demo at the Cancer Support Community Atlanta this month includes wholesome foods for brown bag lunches and highlights roasted red peppers as part of two recipes – a Quinoa Salad and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.  So, at the end of last week, it was time to test the recipes AND for me to finally learn the “how to” of roasting red peppers.

    I’m embarrassed to say I can’t believe I didn’t try this sooner.  I wanted to eat up both peppers I roasted simply by themselves – they were fabulous!

    Want to try this for yourself?  Check out my steps below (and forgive my amateur photography…).  And stay tuned next week for the recipes from our demo.


    Step 1:   Preheat oven to 450° F.  Wash red bell pepper(s), cut in half, remove the seeds and stem, and place on a baking sheet with parchment paper, with inside of pepper facing down.  Brush the outside skin of each pepper with olive oil.


    Step 2:  Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes until the skins have darkened and peppers are tender. Remove from oven.


    Step 3:  Place the roasted peppers in a glass dish and cover to steam for 10-15 minutes.


    Step 4.   Peel skin away from peppers and you are ready to eat or use in recipes.

  • 17Mar

     

    Roasting is a cooking technique that was discussed in great detail during Basic Cooking Techniques IV, a class that is part of the chef’s training curriculum at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. We experimented with this dry heat cooking method by roasting different vegetables including carrots, parsnips, potatoes, peppers, shallots, butternut squash and GARLIC.

    Garlic is one of my favorite foods to roast. The flavors become mellow and sweet. It tastes much different than garlic in its raw form.

    Roasted garlic is very easy to prepare:

    1. Preheat your oven to 325°F . Slice off enough of the top of the head of garlic to expose the cloves. (Above, you’ll see a picture of our roasted garlic from class. My group sliced the root end. It is actually better to slice off the opposite end. The cloves will stay intact to the root and not fall apart. Sliced either way, you’ll end up with a mellow, sweet, beautiful flavor.)

    2. Place garlic onto a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle the cut end with a touch of olive oil. Close up the foil, place on a baking tray and cook for approximately 45 minutes to an hour or until the garlic has softened and become golden brown.

    3. Once done, you can add the roasted garlic to soups, sauces, vinaigrette, salads, cheese platters, hummus, sandwiches, pizza, chicken, meats and pastas. The options are endless. Simply leave the garlic whole presented on a platter, squeeze it out of the skins, or if you want to keep the cloves whole, just gently peel off the skins.

    During class, we ate the roasted garlic by itself. As I tasted its goodness, I began thinking about all of the amazing health supportive properties of garlic. It is rich in dozens of powerful sulfur-containing compounds. These well-studied sulfur compounds have been shown to function as antioxidants. In addition, many may provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits, cardiovascular benefits, protection from cancer, antibacterial and antiviral benefits. Additionally, garlic is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, and a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), phosphorus, selenium, calcium, and copper. For an in-depth nutritional profile and information about some of these studies of garlic, click here.

    While we are on the subject of garlic, it’s important to select fresh garlic and store it so that it will yield the best flavor. To do this, follow these easy tips:

    • Purchase garlic that is plump and has unbroken skin. Gently squeeze the raw garlic bulb between your fingers to check that it feels firm and is not damp.
    • Avoid garlic that is soft, shriveled, moldy, or that has begun to sprout. These may be indications of decay that will cause inferior flavor and texture.
    • Size is often not an indication of quality.
    • Fresh garlic is available in the market throughout the year.
    • Store fresh garlic in either an uncovered or a loosely covered container in a cool, dark place away from exposure to heat and sunlight. This will help maintain its maximum freshness and help prevent sprouting, which causes a bitter flavor.
    • It is not necessary to refrigerate garlic.

    I invite you to enjoy the flavors and health benefits of garlic in the Good Measure Menu, as well as in recipes that you prepare at home.  Just remember to brush your teeth afterwards! :)