The biggest obstacle to healthy eating is convenience; unfortunately convenient foods are rarely healthy. Eating-out is easy, and ordering-in fits the schedule nicely, but rarely are either nutritionally sound. Processed foods can go from box to table in minutes, but there’s little to nothing in that package we should be eating – I don’t care what the labels says!
What does convenient eating cost? Thousands of dollars more per year for foods that are slowly killing us, and at the same time it reduces the most significant of family events to a quick feeding. Is a matter of minutes each day worth it?
For starters, we need to eat more vegetables. Mom’s have been saying this for generations – and lo and behold, every scientific study, doctor and nutrition expert will tell you the same thing. The goal is to increase the ratio of vegetables on your plate to at least 50%, rounding out your meals with lean meats or fish and whole grains – and no fast or processed foods!
First we need to have fresh vegetables on hand at all times, which means shopping at least once a week. In short: stick to veggies in season and choose the greatest variety of textures, colors and shapes possible – the bigger the variety, the bigger the benefits.
Second, save time by prepping veggies in advance one or two times a week – that way they’re only a few short minutes from the table. If you keep a salad, cut fruit and steamed veggies on hand at all times, healthy eating becomes very convenient. I swear by this recipe, and you’ll be amazed how flexible and quick it is at suppertime!
Veggies for The Week
This vegetable selection is just a suggestion, try to cook as many varieties and colors as possible.
1 pound purple or other baby potatoes
1-2 pounds carrots
8-16 oz green beans
1 bunch broccoli
1 bunch cauliflower
1-2 pints Brussels sprouts
8-16 oz sugar snap and/or snow peas
1 ea. yellow & red bell pepper
Fill a large pot with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil and place steamer inset and lid on top. Or fill your largest pot at least half full of water and bring to a boil (steaming preserves more nutrients!) Prepare a second bowl filled with ice water.
Wash and trim vegetables, cut into one to two-bite pieces and add to the steamer. Cook until crisp tender, remove to a colander, rinse under cold water and shock in ice water to chill quickly (stopping cooking and preserving color). Scatter on a clean towel to dry, transfer to covered containers and refrigerate.
Usage tips: 1) Heat in a pan or microwave with a splash of stock and serve. 2) Sauté briefly in olive oil, season and serve. 3) Microwave and toss with a tab of butter and various seasonings. 4) Marinate in vinaigrette and serve over lettuce. 5) Simmer in marinara and serve over whole-wheat pasta with a salad. 6) Warm and toss with lemon, olive oil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. 7) Microwave and serve with a splash of soy sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Chef’s Notes: For efficiency, start potatoes and as they cook, clean and cut carrots and then add to pot. As they cook, cut the next hardest vegetable and so on. I like to keep the varieties separate and suggest a Chinese bamboo steamer, they’re inexpensive and can be stacked for efficiency. Times for each vegetable varies – test early with a bite and slightly undercook – they will cook more when reheating.
– Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci, www.TonysMarket.com -- www.TonyRosacciCatering.com
About the author: Chef Mick (Michaelangelo) Rosacci is the Corporate Chef and co-owner of Tony’s Markets in the Denver Metro area. Mick also teaches cooking on Denver’s Channel 7 News and Dig In, a local gardening show on FOX. For more recipes, visit www.TonysMarket.com and/or join Tony’s Culinary Club.