You have a problem. You know you need to eat a lot of vegetables, but it’s hard to get them on the table every day at every meal. You’ve tried recipes, but you just don’t seem to have the time. You resort to salad a lot of days, but frankly, salad isn’t the fastest to always prepare either because you want to put fun stuff in there to make it tasty.
Even worse, to a lot of Americans, eating vegetables mostly means eating salad. I’m not anti-salad, but there’s a few problems here:
- An obsession with lettuce, tomato and cucumbers. These aren’t the most nutritious vegetables, and tomato is actually a fruit.
- Using store-bought dressings with added sugar or processed seed oils, or just drissling on an insufficient amount of oil and vinegar. You need natural fats to help digest and absorb the nutrients in vegetables. Nourishing Traditions explains this in detail and The Big Fat Surprise talks about it in relation to the mediterranean diet. If you take the leap of faith to generalize a mythical monolithic “mediterranean” people, those people actually consume lots of fats with their vegetables.
- Vegetables provide a different profile of nutrients to the body depending on their state. You need raw, cooked and fermented vegetables.
- Salad goes bad quickly in the fridge if you make extra
So, here’s a simple formula for getting a much broader variety of vegetables in your diet, eating them cooked and having great left-overs on hand. By the way, they’re usually much more delicious cooked, and you don’t need a fancy recipie.
Pick your ingredients:
- Choose a vegetable: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus, butternut squash, sweet potato, fennel, leek, onion, carrot, parsnip, turnip, kale, chard, spinach or green beans. Really, you can almost just blindly grab a vegetable from the market and just cook it. Get about 1–2 lbs of it (leafy greens weigh less) so you can make enough for several meals.
- Choose a fat: Butter, coconut oil, palm oil, lard (bacon fat drippings), or if you can find it, duck fat or beef tallow. I just noticed that Whole Foods in my area now carries lard, duck fat and beef tallow from Epic. But don’t obsess here. Just use butter if that’s easiest. No need to get too exotic. Just avoid seed oils (corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, the generic “vegetable oil”), avoid shortening made from those oils, and resist using olive oil for cooking.
- Choose a seasoning: Salt and pepper is always fine. If you want, pick another spice too… clove, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cumin, turmeric, onion powder or garlic powder. Or, pick an herb. Really, any dried herb in a jar will work.
Now, you can cook:
- Preheat oven to 375–425. It’s up to you. Change it up sometimes. Higher heat will brown them more but they might burn a little. Lower heat will cook them more gently but take a little longer.
- Rinse and cut up your vegetable into about 1 inch pieces. Pile them up on a sheet pan. You’re cooking it, so don’t obsess about scrubbing a vegetable clean. Just give it a rinse and rinse off any crud.
- Melt a few tablespoons of the fat in the microwave for like 20 seconds to make it a liquid. Just scoop a few spoonfuls out. Don’t measure it!
- Pour the fat over the pile of cut vegetables.
- Shake some seasoning onto the pile of cut vegetables. Again, don’t freakin’ measure! If you want it to be really peppery, put more pepper.
- Use spoons or your hands to mix everything up and spread it all out on the sheet pan.
- Put sheet pan in oven. Probably will take about 30 minutes. But check it, taste it, and take the veggies out when you like how they taste.