Try something new and enjoy the fall harvest

Fall is a great time to get your hands on the abundance of fresh local produce available. Did you know that it is recommended to have somewhere between 3.5 to five cups of vegetables or fruit per day?  That works out to almost one cup or more of veggies or fruit at each meal.

A common excuse used by many is that they don’t like vegetables or someone else in their household won’t eat them (so there is no point in preparing them). So how do you learn to like vegetables? My top tip – try them again and in a new way. Typically when we don’t like something we have tried once, maybe twice, it was usually cooked just one way and then we decide that is not for me, I don’t like it. But did you know it can take a person about 20 tries or tastes before they like a new food? We like to eat foods that are familiar to us and let’s face it a new vegetable (that might taste slightly bitter) is not something we are familiar with.

Now, sweet flavoured foods we are very familiar with and they are often associated with positive thoughts and experiences. So how do you make vegetables sweet without adding in lots of sugar? You roast them of course!  

Roasting vegetables can take a bit of time to cook but it is one of my favourite ways because it is passive cooking. You don’t have to be there stirring; throw them in a pan and let the oven do the rest! My other favourite thing about roasted vegetables is that they have the best flavour. Roasting will caramelize the sugars and starches in the veggies, which will enhance the sweetness. And an added bonus, sweet will balance out the bitter flavour most people don’t like about vegetables. This is often why people like the flavour of toast over bread! So try it this fall with your favourite vegetable and if you get brave,  try it out with a new one. Try something other than the typical potato or carrot, try roasted Brussels sprouts, green beans, zucchini, snap peas, tomatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli … any vegetable you can dream of!

Basic roasted vegetable recipe

1. Preheat your oven to 400 to 425 degrees. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper (prevents sticking and makes for an easy clean up) or aluminum foil.

2. Dice or chop vegetables (about one pound) in even pieces and place them on baking sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp of your favourite oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss with your hands and then spread veggies out in a single layer (to ensure even cooking).

3. Roast for 10 to 40 minutes until tender crisp and outside golden brown (10 to 20 minutes for veggies like beans or broccoli, closer to 40 for root veggies, and somewhere in the middle for veggies like tomatoes and Brussels sprouts). Turn vegetables half way and if desired add in some flavours about 10 minutes before they are done (see below for suggestions). Tossing in flavour for just the last 10 minutes keeps the flavour fresh and prevents burning.  

Flavour Ideas Farmers Blend: ½ tsp mustard, ½ tbsp wine vinegar, ½ tbsp  brown sugar, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tbsp oil. Greek: 2 tsp lemon juice, ½ tsp dried oregano, 1 ½ tbsp oil. Sweet and Tart: ½ tbsp maple syrup, ½ tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp oil. Sweet and Savoury: ½ tbsp Dijon mustard, ½ tbsp honey, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp oil.

Roasted vegetables keep really well and can be used in a lot of different ways. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. Here are a few ideas on using them: eat them as a side dish on their own, throw them in a wrap with your favourite protein and make a delicious sandwich, use them as a topping for pizza with your favourite sauce and cheese, add them to quiche, frittatas or omelettes for a quick dinner the next day, toss them with your favourite whole grain, like barley or quinoa – add your favourite salad dressing and a bit of protein or toss them with noodles and add a pasta sauce.

For more information about any of the free services offered by your local Family Health Team ask your doctor or nurse practitioner during your next visit, visit the website or google ‘family health team locations’.

Sarah Pink is a Registered Dietitian with the Mount Forest Family Health Team.