The Great Vegetable Challenge, Part 1

It is now summer, and vegetables are in great supply. This is when I know you “hear” me saying “EAT THOSE FRESH, HEALTHY VEGGIES!!!” But just because they are available, doesn’t mean they are easy to include in our diets. Looking at the pretty grocery store display makes it look like they should be wonderful to just gather and eat…somehow.

Summer brings a great harvest of tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, garlic, herbs, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, carrots, celery, and even potatoes. Fruits such as berries, peaches and melons are a real treat at this time, especially in the heat.

But what do we do with it all? Not all of us find it easy to incorporate more vegetables into our diets, or know quick and easy ways to prepare them.

So what do we do?

I am here to help! Let me give you some ideas, and even some recipes!

Personally, this year, I grew so much Swiss Chard, that I can’t possibly eat it all. However, I am putting forth a great effort. So Swiss chard seems to be my greens of choice.

So here is a typical breakfast for me:

Greens, eggs and feta:

Stir fry three leaves of Swiss chard, and a little bit of onion in butter. I do this in my small Lodge cast iron skillet. I add a bit of salt and pepper and cook until the greens are fairly soft.

Still in the skillet, I throw in an egg and scramble it in with my greens and onions. Once the egg is cooked, I put it onto my plate.

Then I crumble some amazing feta cheese from Open Doors Heritage Farm.

This is a great start to the day, with greens already in my diet. If you are a vegan, you could skip the egg and feta and add rice and beans, also very delicious! I do that and add on some homemade salsa!

Here is an idea for lunch or dinner-

Basil Pesto on brown rice noodles:

I also grew a lot of basil this year, so pesto is my friend. Many of you know how to make pesto, but if you don’t, here is a simple recipe that I found online, and many of them seem to be pretty much the same:

2 cups basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 – 2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (or another hard cheese) (If you are vegan, you can try nutritional yeast)

In a food processor (or a blender), add the basil, the garlic and the pine nuts and pulse until chopped well. While the processor is running, add 1/2 cup of the olive oil, slowly, so it incorporates well. Process until smooth.

Personally, I add in my cheese at this point, and pulse it in the food processor, but some have you add it in a bowl.

So how is this healthy? Basil is a great herb, and for me it counts as a green leafy vegetable.

I love brown rice pasta. Pasta is still pasta, and not the best use of your food allowance, but it is quite a treat, and a great summer meal.

Roasted Cauliflower (with or without curry):

I love curried cauliflower. My only problem is that I will get carried away and eat the entire thing!

1 head of cauliflower (organic, please)
butter or coconut oil

All I do is cut up the cauliflower into small bits, put it on a “cookie sheet” (it’s actually a jelly roll pan), and massage it in butter and/or coconut oil. (Coconut oil supposedly makes it crisper.) Then I add salt and curry powder (which is of course, optional).

Place it in the oven, cook at 425 for about 30 -40 minutes, until it softens and turns totally yummy!

Then keep me away from it, or I will eat it all!

Light Dinners

Often in the summer, I don’t really want a large dinner. So something small but satisfying is plenty. It’s even better if it includes a vegetable I normally don’t eat, and is fun to eat. Here is a great idea if someone has given you an eggplant, and you don’t know what to do with it:

Baba Ganoush, or What do I do with Eggplant?

If you want to cook your eggplant over a fire, that is up to you, but I like simple and easy, so I just bake mine.

Bake 1 medium to large eggplant in the oven at 40 for 30 – 40 minutes, or until soft. Let it cool. Peel it when it has cooled down.

In a food processor combine:

Cooked eggplant
1/3 cup sesame tahini
2-3 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
salt, pepper and cumin to taste
Blend until well mixed. Pour into a bowl, and serve with pita bread, cut into triangles. Or better yet, serve with the cucumbers your neighbor gave you, sliced up and delicious!  Very yum!

What will you make?

Do you have any great vegetable recipes that your family loves?

In Part 2 I will be giving you ideas for what to do with the veggies that sit at the bottom of your vegetable bin all week.

To your health!

Patti Bealer