Baking isn’t all about making cakes as much as we love them! Vegetables can also feature in a range of delicious baked dishes, and now really is the time to be increasing your vegetable intake.
We know from published data and research that people are eating even fewer vegetables than they were before the pandemic. With winter around the corner, now is the time to boost your immune system and get some powerful nutrients, delicious flavours, and gorgeous colours into your diet.
This National Baking Week, Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer shares her three favourite vegetable bakes.
This is hands down my favourite way of baking vegetables! Not only do roasted veggies look great on the plate because of their array of colours, the flavours and textures bring out all that is great about them.
Even better, this is not going to take you hours in the kitchen. It will deliver a wealth of nutrients and you can vary the recipe to suit the season, what’s in your store cupboard, and where the mood takes you.
My favourite vegetables for nutrient value, taste and colour are:
Rich in a powerful antioxidant lycopene to protect immunity and future-proof health.
Full of lutein and zeaxanthin that are great for eye health particularly if you’re spending long hours in front of screens.
An all-round superfood but especially great for digestion, detoxification, and antioxidant protection.
Slightly more powerful in taste than white onion and loaded with immune-boosting vitamin C and quercetin. If you suffer from any type of allergies, then quercetin can really help to dampen things down.
Another great all-rounder and a natural antiviral, antifungal and antimicrobial botanical. Furthermore, it’s great for reducing high blood pressure and helping to manage cholesterol.
High in beta carotene which is great for the immune system. Beta carotene is turned into vitamin A which is needed for good night vision: it’s no myth that carrots help you see in the dark!
Simply chop up the veggies, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and roast for about 30-40 minutes. You might want to add the tomatoes about halfway through, so they are not overcooked. You can also add some fresh herbs of your choice. Serve with whatever takes your fancy but a tray of roasted vegetables is delicious with any fish or chicken dish or simply served with quinoa.
Autumnal Bean and Vegetable Bake
As seasons change, so does the seasonal availability of fresh vegetables. The body needs warmth right now, hence nature provides lots of root vegetables at this time of year.
Pumpkins, synonymous with this time of year, butternut squash, parsnip and beetroot are great roasted with cumin. These veggies are all rich in antioxidants to protect the immune system during the winter months.
While these are roasting, fry some onions, with garlic, paprika, ground coriander and cumin. These are all warming spices giving the body what it craves at this time of year. Add some tinned tomatoes (rich in lycopene) and cannellini beans. All beans are packed with essential protein, fibre and vitamin B6, great for hormone balance.
Leave to simmer for 20 minutes then put everything together in an oven dish, add some breadcrumbs and roast until crisp. You’ve produced a highly nutritious and delicious baked dish!
Cauliflower Cheese with a twist
Cauliflower is part of the highly prized cruciferous family. As with all the family members (including broccoli), these guys can’t put a step wrong when it comes to protecting overall health. Add some cheese and everything looks brighter.
In this dish the cauliflower florets are roasted, with some vitamin C-rich red peppers and onions, together with mushrooms, which provide some Vitamin D. Towards the end of cooking make up a traditional cheese sauce using delicious and flavoursome cheddar cheese.
Pour over the vegetables, top with some grated parmesan and you’ll have the most delicious and warming autumn meal, that’s also loaded with nutrients. For vegetarians, this is great for providing a protein hit. Simply serve with a side salad if desired to further enrich the colour and nutrient content.
So, enjoy mixing and matching your vegetables in baked dishes this autumn – it’s a win-win for your health too!
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