Hey Folks! We're excited to welcome back Certified 21DSD Coach Rebekah Reddy. Rebekah's article is part of a series contributed by our Certified 21DSD Coaches. Enjoy! – Diane and Team
If you’re new to the 21DSD or any real-food way of eating, you have probably noticed how much time is required to prepare nutritious food, from scratch, for every meal. Even for those of us who enjoy cooking, and for whom cooking real food is a priority, the time involved is sometimes more than we really have to spare. But don’t worry! I have a solution that will help you streamline your meal prep and get more vegetables onto your plate.
The solution: roasting!
As the weather gets cooler, I find that I use my oven more often to prepare meals, especially mid-week when the flurry of activity surrounding my kids’ schedules makes dinner prep more challenging. The oven is a great way to get dinner done while I multitask—help with homework, pack lunches, do some housecleaning, or write blog posts!
Roasting also adds a layer of flavor to your vegetables by caramelizing the sugars (all natural, of course) and browning the outer edges to crispy perfection. And if you’re roasting one thing, it’s easy to add another pan and roast even more so that you have leftovers to incorporate in meals throughout the week. You’ll be saving yourself time and energy!
Roasting vegetables is a wonderful way to get lots of vegetables ready with minimal effort and a big payoff: if they’re already cooked, it’s that much easier to work them into your meals.
You can mix a number of vegetables together, roast separate pans of 2-3 different kinds, or season different pans with different spices. There are endless combinations!
Use your roasted vegetables as a side dish, atop salads, wrapped in lettuce or collard wraps, scrambled with eggs or in egg muffins, pureed into soups, or as a leftover “mini-meal.”
Vegetables that are good for roasting, for the most part, are sturdy, dense, and have a firm texture so they hold up well to high temperatures (see list below). They are also perfect for roasting because they typically cook more quickly in the oven than they do on the stovetop, which saves a bit more time.
- Pick one (or several) vegetables from the list below.
- Preheat oven to 400F. I like to use the convection setting on my oven for more even heat.
- Cut vegetables into same-sized 1-2-inch pieces. Smaller pieces will cook more quickly but too small will burn easily.
- Toss the vegetables in melted cooking fat/oil (start with 1-2 Tbsp. and make sure the fat coats the vegetables—if it doesn’t, add more). Cooking fats good for roasting include coconut oil, butter/ghee, lard, bacon fat, and tallow.
- Season with salt, pepper, herbs, and/or other spices of your choosing. I usually keep it pretty simple with salt and pepper.
- Put the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet. I like to line mine with parchment paper (aluminum foil also works, but I think parchment is better for easy clean up), but for better caramelization, leave it unlined. You can also use glass or ceramic baking dishes. Make sure the vegetables are in a single layer and not overly crowded—this will cause them to steam instead of roast, which will result in a softer, less caramelized vegetable.
- Roast uncovered in the preheated oven for 15-40 minutes, stirring about halfway through. If you have more than one pan going, and rotate the pans half way through cooking.
- Depending on the type(s) of vegetables you choose, the cooking time may vary widely, so start checking around 10 minutes and then every 5-10 minutes after that. They are done when they are light brown and easily pierced with a fork.
- Brussels sprouts
Starchy vegetables (**for Energy modification only):
- Sweet potatoes**
- White potatoes**
- Winter squash: delicata, acorn, butternut, kabocha, pumpkin, etc.
- Bell peppers
- Green beans
Combinations I like:
- Butternut squash, red bell peppers, and rosemary
- Beets and onions (served over raw baby spinach with a balsamic vinaigrette)
- Cauliflower and broccoli (perfect for reuse in egg muffins, scrambles, or as a side dish)
- White potatoes**, bell peppers (any color) and onions (think home fries!)
Rebekah Reddy has been a stay-at-home mom to her three children (two girls, one boy) since 2006, but in her former life she was a high school English/ESL teacher. She holds a BA in English with a minor in Spanish, an MA in English with an emphasis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), and a California teaching credential. She is also a certified Nutrition Educator, 21DSD Certified Coach, and the author of the blog Half Indian Cook through which she shares recipes and writes about food and culture in her mixed-ethnicity family.
Rebekah specializes in adapting Indian and other ethnic cuisines to be Paleo or 21DSD-friendly as well as working with pregnant or breastfeeding women, busy families, and children. Rebekah’s passion for delicious, nutritious food has led her entire family to improved health and she hopes to support you in whatever health-related changes you wish to make.