Healthy Hack #1: Simplify Healthy Eating with Roasted Vegetables
Unfortunately, healthy eating isn't always quite as simple or fast as, say, stopping at a fast-food drive-through on your way home. Eating healthy seems expensive, time-consuming, and not as delicious to many people. If it didn't, we would all make healthier food choices, right? But here's the thing: while eating better can definitely be a challenge, it doesn't have to be an impossible one. There are ways to make it easier and more convenient. (And I think just as, if not more, delicious!) As a health coach, my job is to help you find the best ways to incorporate healthy, nutritious food into your day, without investing a lot of time or effort.
So over the next few months, I’ll be sharing my favorite strategies for making eating healthy, delicious, and convenient. Healthy eating hack #1 – Roasted Vegetables
Roasted vegetables are a great way to include a greater amount and variety of vegetables into your meals without a lot of hassle or effort. By mastering how to make and use roasted vegetables, you have a practical way to keep your meals healthy, nutritious, and interesting with variety and new flavors without spending hours in the kitchen. With just some chopping, seasoning, and patience, you can have crisp, golden, and intensely flavored vegetables in less than an hour.
I don’t always have a lot of time to cook, so roasting has become my cooking method of choice; it’s mostly hands-free, and the vegetables come out delicious every time. Plus, roasted vegetables can go much further than their usual position of side dish. I often serve them over healthy grains like rice, quinoa, or polenta with beans or tofu, and a tasty sauce, and they are a meal in themselves. And I always make a large amount so I have ingredients for delicious, healthy meals with little effort for the next few days.
The process for roasting any vegetable is essentially the same: wash and dry it, chop it, and toss it with a little oil (preferably olive or avocado), salt, and pepper. Then, bake until it’s golden brown and tender. That’s it. By changing the combinations of vegetables and using different herbs and spices, the possibilities are almost endless.
The formula is simple, and by keeping these 7 tips in mind, you can guarantee a delicious outcome:
Combine vegetables that cook at the same rate or organize your vegetables on the pan according to cooking times.
Cut the vegetables the same size.
Keep the vegetables in 1 layer on the pan.
Add all flavoring (except for salt, pepper, and spices) after roasting.
Don’t use too much oil or your vegetables will turn out greasy. 1-2 tablespoon per sheet pan is enough.
Roast at 400 degrees. Any lower will prevent browning and your vegetables will get mushy; too much higher and they’ll burn.
Check on the vegetables and toss them every 10-15 minutes.
Below I’ve listed for you a variety of vegetables that are perfect for roasting and about how long they take to cook. You can cook vegetables that take the same amount of time together on the same pan and others on a different pan. Or you can arrange them in sections on your pan, so you can remove the vegetables that are done, and return the others that need more time back into the oven.
Long cooking time (30 minutes or longer):
Average cooking time (about 20 to 30 minutes):
sugar snap peas
whole garlic cloves
Quick cooking time (under 20 minutes):
shallots or onions
I like to make a big batch of roasted vegetables so we have leftovers to enjoy in different ways over the next few days. Having them prepared and on hand makes it more likely that we'll eat them, and saves a lot of time when I want something healthy, but don't have time to cook. With a little creativity, leftover roasted vegetables can become the vehicle to all kinds of delicious, healthy meals.
Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy leftover roasted vegetables:
Wrap - Spread hummus, pesto, and/or some smashed avocado on the wrap, pile some leftover roasted vegetables, sprinkle some pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds, add some fresh greens like arugula, spinach or sprouts, and wrap it up.
Pizza – We love pizza in our house, and piling a delicious crust with leftover roasted vegetables is a healthy way to enjoy something that many would otherwise consider off-limits. Spread your pizza crust with some tomato sauce or pesto and pile on the vegetables. Instead of adding handfuls of cheese, try topping your pizza with some herbs like rosemary or fresh basil or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Omelets – An omelet is a wonderful vehicle for your leftover roasted vegetables. Omelets are quick and easy, whether you make them for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. You can cut up your roasted vegetables into slightly smaller pieces if you want a less chunky omelet.
Grain bowls – Pile your leftover roasted vegetables on top of some hearty whole grains like brown rice or quinoa. Add some beans and sprinkle on some nuts or seeds for a nutritious meal.
In a tortilla – Load a tortilla with some of the vegetables and top with some avocado and salsa, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime for an easy roasted vegetable taco.
Salad – No one ever said that the vegetables in your salad need to be raw. Toss your favorite leafy greens with some roasted vegetables and drizzle with a tasty balsamic dressing for a filling salad. Add some beans, olives, tomatoes and sprinkle with some chopped nuts or seeds for a filling meal.
Soup – Heat some stock in a large saucepan. Add some leftover roasted vegetables. With an immersion blender, coarsely puree some of the vegetables, or remove some stock and vegetables and puree them in a blender and then add them back to the pot. (I like to leave a lot of vegetables intact for added texture.) Add a can of beans and some hearty greens like kale or spinach.
Your options for easy healthy meals with roasted vegetables are almost endless. Added bonus – you likely use less oil than frying or sautéing, and the clean-up is much easier!