Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lovin' Veggies

If there is one lesson about food that I have learned since becoming a dietitian, it is to love vegetables. I wouldn't say that I hated vegetables before, but I really didn't realize the value they had in a healthy, balanced diet. I was very fortunate to grow up in a household where we had family dinner 6 out of 7 nights per week. My mom cooked very balanced meals complete with a meat of some sort, rice or pasta, cooked vegetable and often a salad. Our table was always covered with a plethora of food. I still love going home today, knowing there is never a lack of food to eat!When I first started cooking in college, I started with simple meals like beef stroganoff, spaghetti, sloppy joes, and our (my roommate and I) weekly staple, chicken stir-fry. Vegetables were not always included. When I graduated from college and started working at my first job, I had more time to cook and the more I talked about food all day with my patients, the more interested I became in it. I work a lot with weight management, so I am constantly preaching about portion control. I myself have a big appetite and I love to eat. I am not full with 3oz of meat, 1/2 cup of pasta and 1/2 cup of vegetables (a "portion controlled" meal). I hate telling my patients to do something I myself can't or won't do, so knowing the calories of food and realizing that vegetables give the most bang for a buck, I started to fill up on vegetables. I became a huge fan of mini sweet peppers, snap peas, cucumbers, baby carrots, zucchini, and all types of salads. Soon, I was feeling more healthy, had more energy and the 20-30 pounds I had gained in college slipped away (I was also exercising most days of the week, something I hadn't been doing as much in college). So one of the biggest tips I now tell patients is to eat vegetables. They are amazingly low in calories and fill you up, not to mention the vitamins, antioxidants and fiber they provide. You really can't go wrong with eating vegetables- I think we all need a food group we can really binge on and vegetables are it!
I wouldn't call myself a picky eater, but broccoli has never been one of my favorites. I don't like it raw and it seems to get mushy very quickly when you steam or boil it. I had a patient tell me that they liked to roast vegetables, so I have been roasting sweet potatoes, red potatoes, and green beans for years, so why not broccoli? I tried it this year, and now I am addicted! I have been having roasted broccoli at least once a week for the past several months I love it so much! Roasting vegetables is quick and easy and it brings out a more nutty flavor that I really enjoy. Roasting gives the vegetables a nice, toasted color, and makes them almost caramelized but crunchy. If you haven't tried roasting your vegetables I strongly recommend it! I think any vegetable can be roasted, so try it with some of your vegetables that you usually steam or boil. You will be in for a delicious treat!Tonight, for a quick meal I made some talipia with roasted broccoli. The best part is that it can all go on the same pan, at the same temperature for the same amount of cooking time. It is truly a 2o minute meal! Usually I make roasted vegetables with just some salt, pepper, and olive oil, but I dressed it up a little tonight. Enjoy!

2 talipia or cod steaks
2 cups of broccoli florets
1 tomato, roughly chopped or 1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes
handful of basil, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
olive oil
dried parsley
cayenne pepper

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the talapia on one half of the sheet. Drizzle the fish with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, parsley, and cayenne pepper. Place the broccoli, tomatoes, basil and garlic in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Place broccoli mixture on other half of the baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Broccoli should be browned and fish should be golden.

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