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By Carolina Curlionis, Nutritionist for Apollo Health

We are marching into March! This month we are focusing on embracing our inner chef. I know this sounds intimidating, but we promise our recipes are easy to make, delicious, and will help make the protocol easier to follow. To start, one recipe that should always be in your repertoire is roasted vegetables. Roasted vegetables make a great appetizer or side dish and a perfect dish to bring to any social distanced event. 

Nothing brings out the richness and depth of flavor of vegetables quite as much as roasting them, but roasting for long periods in high temperatures can deplete nutrients and create unhealthy proteins called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs are glycotoxins created by a reaction between sugars and proteins or lipids which contributes to oxidative stress, inflammation, and many of the pathologies we see with diabetes and other chronic diseases. Glycation in cooking occurs when you begin to see browning or charring occur on the food as it’s exposed to higher temperatures. We’re going to share a twist on the typical roasting technique that protects against AGEs, retains nutrient density, and still results in universally addictive roasted vegetable treats.

By pre-steaming vegetables until they are half-done, then roasting for a shorter period, we’ve arrived at a compromise between attaining the depth of roasted flavor while still maintaining optimal moisture and nutrient density. This technique also provides the opportunity to steam vegetables the day before, making roasting even easier if you are cooking for a crowd.

While many vegetables can be roasted, pre-steaming is only recommended for those that are a bit denser, including artichokes, beets, and carrots (although cooking them will increase sugar content), celery root, fennel, kohlrabi, sunchokes, broccoli, broccolini, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, and green beans. Acorn and spaghetti squash can be steamed by turning them upside down in your pan and directly roasting them. Other vegetables, because they are more tender, are best roasted directly, including asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, radicchio, yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, peppers, and tomatoes. 

When putting together vegetable combinations for roasting, it’s important to choose those that have a similar density that will require a similar cooking time. It’s fine to combine those that require pre-steaming with those that don’t. Because we are keeping the temperature low, both avocado oil and high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) can be used. Some people prefer to use avocado oil and to reserve the EVOO for finishing after roasting. If you’re also roasting meat, feel free to add the drippings from the meat. Be creative and explore new vegetables and flavor combinations.  

Roasted Vegetables

Ingredients:

• Your choice of vegetables to roast
• Avocado or high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
• Sea salt
• Freshly ground pepper
• Minced garlic
• Fresh rosemary (to protect polyphenols and against AGEs)

Directions: 

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
2. Chop vegetables into uniform size to ensure even doneness.
3. If chopping cruciferous vegetables, wait for 10 to 45 minutes before cooking to increase anti-inflammatory and detoxifying sulforaphane.
4. For vegetables that can be steamed, add 1 to 2” of water into a large pan and bring to a boil. Place vegetables in a steamer basket and steam for 5 to 15 minutes (depending on the vegetable) until about half done. Watch closely to ensure that there is adequate water in the pan to avoid scorching your pot. When finished, drain well.
5. Mix enough avocado or EVOO into a large bowl to coat the vegetables. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and fresh rosemary. Mix well.
6. Add the vegetables that will be roasted, tossing them gently to ensure even coating.
7. Spread them in a single layer onto a baking sheet and place them into the warmed oven.
8. Check frequently for doneness. When you begin to see early signs of browning, your roasted vegetables are done.
9. Finish with extra EVOO if desired.
10. Enjoy! 

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