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Healthy adults are recommended to eat 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, yet only approximately 32.5% of American adults are consuming this much! Eating vegetables doesn’t have to be flavorless and boring. Roasting vegetables brings out the flavors of each and every vegetable, and with the addition of herbs, spices, and sometimes different cheeses, the flavors really burst. You can keep it as simple as a mixture of olive oil, salt, and pepper, or you can mix things up a bit by throwing in some fresh basil and Gorgonzola cheese.
Many of these recipes call for dried herbs, but adding a pinch of the same fresh herb right before serving creates a beautiful presentation. These vegetable dishes can be eaten on their own or as a delightful side dish in combination with pasta, seafood, or meat. Some, such as roasted tomatoes, are a perfect addition to pasta sauces, while others, such as roasted eggplant, can act as the main course of a meal.
To “roast” means to cook using hot, dry air. Through roasting, your vegetables become almost caramelized and turn a beautiful brown color. The insides remain moist and tender, while the outsides gain the perfect amount of crisp. The beauty of roasting is that you can take them out of the oven whenever they are done to your liking. When the vegetables become tender, they begin to slowly brown. You can take them out as soon as they become tender, as soon as they become lightly browned, or right when the outsides begin to crisp.
You can roast virtually any vegetable, and choosing a combination of many different colored vegetables can make dinner time more fun for children. You can even make a sort of “dessert” meal with sweet vegetables such as sweet potatoes, or make ordinary vegetables sweet by glazing them with a honey mixture. And, as we all know, adding cheese to any meal automatically makes it more fun (apologies to those who are lactose-intolerant out there).
If you still haven’t hopped aboard the vegetable train, maybe some of these health benefits will help change your mind:
• Tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a powerful antioxidant that is known for its cancer-preventing abilities. It is especially useful in preventing prostate, colon, and lung cancers. Tomatoes also improve the digestive system by stimulating the detoxifying functions of your kidneys and liver.
• The iron found in beets helps reactivate your red blood cells and supply oxygen to your entire body. The amount of copper found in beets helps the body absorb the iron at a faster rate. Beets also work to help detoxify the liver, and work to heal conditions such as jaundice and hepatitis.
• Carrots increase the production and performance of white blood cells, which are a necessary part of maintaining a healthy immune system. These white blood cells help build up defense against many different kinds of diseases and infections. The nutrients found in carrots also help to detoxify the liver, which in turn works to detoxify the blood. Blood toxicity is a common cause of many types of skin problems.
• While you may have turned away with disgust at any mention of Brussels sprouts when you were younger, you should rethink the way you view these nutritional powerhouses. The high fiber content of these vegetables helps lower cholesterol levels in the body. The nutrients in Brussels sprouts also help protect against prostate, ovarian, breast, colon, lung, and bladder cancer, as well as support healthy brain and nerve function. Just one cup of Brussels sprouts provides 273.5% of the recommended daily value of vitamin K, which is essential for blood, bone, and brain health.
• While not as widely hated as Brussels sprouts, many people don’t enjoy the flavor of broccoli. Broccoli is known as the most concentrated source of vitamin C out of all the cruciferous vegetables. Vitamin C helps protect the body against a myriad of different infections and diseases, and makes sure our immune system is functioning properly. Broccoli is also high in both vitamin K and calcium, which help prevent osteoporosis and other bone problems.
• Cauliflower provides vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and vitamin K. Cauliflower is anti-inflammatory, provides digestive support, and helps detoxify the body as well as prevent certain types of cancers.
You will find recipes for each of the vegetables listed above, as well as many others whose nutritional benefits are not provided (though are still present). Mix and match vegetables as you see fit. Many of these recipes offer ways to roast one certain vegetable, but the spices used for that vegetable can certainly be applied to other vegetables you would like to cook with it. You can even pile in the rest of the vegetables you have lying around your house! Chop up a potato, an onion, some mushrooms, a zucchini, and some carrots, toss them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and your spice or herb of choice, and stick them in the oven together. While roasting vegetables separately helps to bring out each individual flavor, roasting them together creates a beautiful mix of warm, hearty flavors that are perfect for a winter night around a fire.
Whether you’re cooking for yourself, your kids, or an entire crowd, roasting vegetables allows you to create a beautiful, delicious presentation without a lot of extra work.
All of these recipes list “salt and pepper, to taste” as one of their ingredients. In the nutrition facts provided, salt is not taken into consideration since everyone will add a different amount. Each of these recipes is geared towards two servings, though can easily be altered for smaller or larger portions.
The next time you’re dreading munching on a raw carrot just to get your nutrients for the day, try roasting it instead. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how simply roasting a vegetable transforms it into an aesthetically pleasing delectable snack, side dish, or meal.