Vegetables are not always given the kudos they deserve with them often appearing as an ‘after-thought’ on the plate. Clearly, for vegetarians and vegans, this is not the case, but we could all still do with some new ideas on how to bring veg to life.
Adding some different flavours and health-giving herbs and spices can really elevate a vegetable dish and Christmas is the perfect time to make this happen.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five favourite vegetable recipes for the season.
Mashed swede with nutmeg
Swede is one of those vegetables that often gets ignored, partly because it isn’t always easy to prepare. However, it’s well worth any additional effort required because it’s a delicious vegetable side at any time of the year. It’s even better at Christmas when in season and also when the body loves root vegetables the most.
Swede is high in immune-boosting vitamin C, and nutmeg is a deliciously warming spice which adds a lovely twist to the dish. Add some bay leaves whilst you’re boiling the swede and then mash with butter and plenty of black pepper.
Roasted broccoli and cauliflower
These two vegetables hail from the same, super-healthy, cruciferous family making them a powerful duo. Cruciferous vegetables are loaded with nutrients, fibre and antioxidants so are perfect at this time of year when we need to be giving our bodies as much goodness as possible.
Both vegetables are delicious lightly steamed or boiled but can often be over-cooked making them mushy and tasteless, hence this recipe really hits the spot. Cut both the cauliflower and broccoli into florets and sprinkle with a little olive oil, soy sauce and cumin for some gentle spicy flavours. Cumin is another super-spice and a great anti-inflammatory helping ward off aches and pains, common at this time of year. Simply roast in the oven until tender but not too soft so they still have some ‘bite’.
Parsnips are a Christmas favourite and are probably appearing on most Christmas menus. However, why not change it up by making parsnips into fritters? Another tasty root vegetable, parsnips are high in fibre and low in fat. They also contain some protein and good amounts of calcium and magnesium, to help support your bones.
Peel the parsnips, grate and mixed with some egg, salt and pepper and cumin and roughly mould into fritter shapes. They can either be cooked in the oven or lightly fried until crisp and golden. Not just for Christmas Day, these fritters also make a great breakfast treat and work really well with eggs.
Roasted vegetables with pesto
A plate loaded with colour is a plate that’s laden with nutrients. Nature provides us with a wealth of colourful vegetables, all full of health-giving nutrients, especially antioxidants which help protect us from disease and delay the ageing process.
With root vegetable all being in season right now, you can also add further colour with peppers, chopped aubergine and onions, or add sweet potatoes, parsnips and turnips. You can add a little pesto towards the end of cooking just to give them some extra flavour. Roasted vegetables are great at any time, but they make a perfect warming side leading up to Christmas, or can even by eaten cold, making them delicious on the buffet table too.
This is a real showstopper for the buffet table because of its rich colours. However, it’s also a great way of getting some slightly stronger flavours into a salad dish. And whilst all these foods are high in nutrients, beetroot is great for this time of year when there’s the tendency to over-indulge and feel sluggish as it helps to detoxify the liver.
Carrots need to be grated, cucumber peeled and diced, with beetroot also peeled and grated. Fry some immune-boosting garlic in a pan with the green beans, then add the other veg and lightly sauté for around 5 minutes or so. You can either cook the vegetables individually and layer them in a bowl or mix them all together, cool and serve with a dill and mustard dressing or French dressing of your choice.
So, enjoy some interesting vegetable dishes this festive season and reap the health benefits from the many nutrients they provide.
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