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June 1, 2017

The Vegetable Plate Revisited

by Anne Paddock

Before you yawn and say to yourself “oh, not another vegetable plate,” read on for some tips on how to take a vegetable plate from a snoozer to an exciting, colorful, and flavorful meal.  First, choose colorful vegetables because presentation is important. Food can look bland and still taste great but a meal is so much more enjoyable when the food looks as good as it tastes.

Second, include a substantial vegetable like a sweet potato. All the naysayers of potatoes and starch are misguided about potatoes and especially sweet potatoes. One 10-ounce sweet potato is a nutritional powerhouse with 4 grams of protein, 8 grams of dietary fiber, and loaded with vitamin A, C, B-6, and potassium. But the best thing about the sweet potato is the flavor which is starchy, sweet, and filling. No toppings are necessary (although a few chopped pecans add a rich crunchy flavor).Vegetable_Plate

Third, utilize different cooking methods. Bake the potato. Steam the broccoli or cauliflower. Sauté the dry zucchini or squash (these vegetables are loaded with water that releases when heated allowing the vegetables to brown without burning). Mushrooms are also an excellent addition and can be sautéed on high heat. The browning brings out the flavor of the meaty mushroom. Carrots and other root vegetables are delicious roasted.Vegetable_Plate_with Tofu

Fourth, consider adding soybeans in the form of edamame, tofu, or tempeh (for a nuttier flavor).  High in protein and dietary fiber, soybean based products can be sautéed or baked with virtually any sauce taking on the flavor of that sauce (teriyaki, barbecue, hoisin, etc). Tofu, tempeh, and even seitan (usually a blend of wheat protein with beans and/or lentils and spices) also help those transitioning from an animal based diet to a plant-based diet by replacing the meat on a plate with a more nutritious and better tasting food product.Vegetable-Plate

The last recommendation is to spice it up by adding herbs and spices. Fresh chopped parsley, cilantro, chives or dried thyme, tarragon, peppercorns, dill, rosemary, sweet basil or a spice mix (Sunny Paris from Penzey’s Spices – a combination of purple shallots, chives, green peppercorns, basil, tarragon, chervil, bay leaf, and dill weed or Herbes de Provence from Whole Spice – a blend of basil, thyme, savory, rosemary ,tarragon, lavender,and fennel) add a robust flavor to vegetables. Experiment and don’t be afraid to sprinkle herbs and spices instead of salt on those yummy vegetables.

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