Enjoy Warm and Tasty Winter Vegetables

Enjoy Warm and Tasty Winter Vegetables

Just because the weather is cold shouldn’t keep you from enjoying in season fresh produce. Nature gives us a collection of its best winter vegetables that have proven to be flavorful. Winter root vegetables can contribute an interdependent, sweet flavor to a hearty winter soup recipe, like carrots, or sweet potatoes.

Roasting most winter vegetables brings out their best flavors. Even using complementary herbs and spices helps add some extra exceptional tastes.

Available In Season Winter Vegetables

Brussels sproutsAlthough Brussels sprouts are available year-round, their peak season is from September to February.

When looking to purchase them, remember to look for small firm sprouts with compact bright-green heads, and the smaller the head the sweeter the taste. Roasting Brussels sprouts lightly caramelizes their edges but keeps them tender inside.

To view a few recipes using Brussels sprouts one of the following links:

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon 

Warm Brussels sprouts and Dilled Potato Salad 

Brown Butter and Brussels Sprout with Fennel

At All Recipes (allrecipes.com) they call Broccoli the star vegetable in stir-fries, soups, salads, and casseroles.

Broccoli can be purchased year round. But when in season, as a winter vegetable when roasted retains its entire flavor and even gains deliciously crisp bits when.

preparing broccoli to eatWhen asked the question – How Do You Describe Broccoli? – to a community of online people at answers.com, one member answered saying, “Broccoli is good chopped into small pieces or cut into larger piece and cooked until tender.

It’s delicious to eat as it is when cooked naturally and also in recipes.

The popular dish, broccoli and cheese is made with cooked, tender broccoli before draining and stirring in cheese until it melts and mixes in with the broccoli.

You can also make cheese sauces, which you serve, poured over the broccoli on a plate.

Either way it is cooked or served, broccoli is a favorite among vegetables and nutritionally powerful” (Answers).

To view a recipe using broccoli click here: Baked Garlic and Broccoli

The Sweet Potato is a dicotyledonous plant that belongs to the Convolvulaceae family.

This species of plants are known commonly as the bindweed or morning glory family, which has more than 1,650 species of mostly herbaceous vines, but also trees, shrubs and herbs.

Stuffed Sweet Potato with Chipotle Black Bean and Corn SaladStuffed Sweet Potato with Chipotle Black Bean and Corn Salad

The sweet potato is a starchy, sweet-tasting, tuberous root. There are about 1,000 species of sweet potatoes, with some varieties sold at market for food, while others are not for consumption, as they are poisonous.

The sweet potato is only distantly related to the common potato, though it is not part the nightshade family.

The website – “The Worlds Healthiest Foods” – has this to say about sweet potatoes when preparing to eat them, “It can be helpful to include some fat in your sweet potato-containing meals if you want to enjoy the full beta-carotene benefits of this root vegetable.

Recent research has shown that a minimum of 3-5 grams of fat per meal significantly increases our uptake of beta-carotene from sweet potatoes. Of course, this minimal amount of fat can be very easy to include.

In our Healthy Mashed Sweet Potatoes recipe, for example, we include 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and with just this one tablespoon, each of our 4 servings for this delicious recipe provides 3.5 grams of fat (whfoods).

To view a few recipes using sweet potatoes click one of the following links:

Sweet Potato Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans

Southwestern Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

Baked Beets and Sweet Potato Chips

KaleKale is considered to be the most robust of the cabbage family. Its high nutritional worth and intense flavor make kale an exceptional addition too many vegetable recipes.

At Mind Body Green, Alison Lewis makes note of kale as “the new beef,” “the queen of greens,” and “a nutritional powerhouse”(MBG).

To view a few recipes using kale click one of the following links:

Red Kale Cannellini Beans and Chorizo Soup

Moroccan Three Bean and Kale Soup

Red Kale Beets and Sweet Cilantro Vinaigrette

Leeks are winter root vegetable that looks much similar to onions, and to which they are also related. Their flavor is onion-like but much milder, mellower, and not overpowering, as onions sometimes can be.

The darker green parts have plenty of flavor. They can either be cooked longer then the root parts to tenderize them, or used when making homemade soup stock, like chicken broth base soup along with potatoes, carrots, and herbs.

They can also be eaten raw or joined with a salad of leafy greens to divulge a wonderful crisp crunchy flavor.

Link here for a recipe using leeks: Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken –  includes a video

Turnips are a a round, light-colored root related to the mustard family. Though the vegetable is grown for its eatable root, the top green parts are also enjoyed in salads.

Turnip greens are a common side dish in southeastern U.S. cooking, primarily during late fall and winter months.

Smaller leaves are preferred when boiling them in water, as the larger the leaf the stronger the flavor.

However, if you find yourself cooking with larger turnip greens, any bitter taste can be reduced by pouring off the water from initial boiling and replacing it with fresh water.

The natural sweetness of Parsnips comes alive when they’re roasted and caramelized.

The addition of fresh rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar makes a sweet, aromatic glaze.

Roasted parsnips make a great side dish for pork tenderloin.

Link here for a recipe using parsnips :  Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Belgian EndiveThe genuine Belgian endive is deeply rooted in its country of origin – Belgian, were it was discovered in 1830.

This compact white colored small cylindrical shaped leaf vegetable with light green tips is a tangy, but tender and delicious vegetable.

Some cooks add the leafy vegetable to soups, while others use it in salads.

Link here for more about endives discovery and for a recipe: Endive and Fruit Salad with Chicken –  includes a video

Other winter vegetables that can still be found in your local market are…

Buttercup Squash – Collard Greens – Delicata Squash – Sweet Dumpling Squash – Winter Squash

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Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole

Brussels sprouts look like mini-cabbages more than anything are packed with vitamins and minerals that support a healthy immune system. Their highly nutritious, and extremely versatile in preparation with a number of different recipes.

With a variety of options for how to add them to your diet, you won’t ever get bored with these perfectly crafted vegetables made by nature for you.

brussels sproutsWhat Are Brussels Sprouts?

These little cabbages are grown for their edible buds and may have gotten their name from Brussels, Belgium, where they are believed to have originated and are highly popular. Ancestors of the modern Brussels sprout were most likely cultivated in ancient Rome, but the sprouts we know and love today were likely grown as early as the 13th century in Belgium (Wikipedia).

Nutrition of Brussels Sprouts

They are a small round leafy vegetable, and are packed with phytonutrients, including protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

brussels sprouts in the gardenThe vitamins include, vitamin C and K , some B-complex vitamins, like B-6, and folate. The minerals include, trace amounts of selenium, copper, zinc and manganese, iron, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

Brussels sprouts are also a great source of vitamin A, which is an antioxidant required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin, and promoting optimal eye health, reducing the risk of macular degeneration.

They can also cause gas and bloating if eaten raw, as they have an enzyme that is difficult to digest. Cooking them breaks this enzyme down and the nutrition of the vegetable becomes more bio-available to the body.

Brussels Spouts and Cancer

Vegetables rich with vitamins A and C have shown to offer protection against some cancers such as oral cavity, and lung cancer. The extent of cancer-protection in Brussels sprouts is still widely researched, but findings hint that this vegetable among others, can help fight cancer causing agents, as well cleansing the body of toxins.

Preparing Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts can be roasted in the oven, used in stir-fry’s, shredded and used in salads, added to soups, casseroles, pasta dishes, and used as garnish around poultry and fish.

There is really no right or wrong way to prepare them!

Now that we have your taste buds going, let’s present our featured recipe: Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole, and here is what you will need.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Casserole

1 – 8 ounce package, cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sour cream

1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 tablespoons butter (or coconut butter)

1 ½ pounds fresh Brussels sprouts, ends cut off

Optional to use 2 packages – 10 ounces each of frozen Brussels sprouts, thawed and drained

3/4 cup shredded cheese, your choice, cheddar, Monterey, Mozzarella, goat cheese, or any hard cheese

Heat Oven to 350 degrees

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sour cream until smooth. Set aside.

In a large skillet, sauté mushrooms and onion in butter until tender. Stir in Brussels sprouts. Remove from the heat and stir in cream cheese mixture.

Grease a 2 quart baking dish, and spoon mixture in spreading out evenly.

Cover dish and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Make 6-8 servings

Enjoy as a stand alone dish, or as a side dish with your favorite meat recipe.

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More Brussels sprouts recipes here at Splendid Recipes and More…

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Warm Brussels sprouts and Dilled Potato Salad

Brown Butter and Brussels Sprout with Fennel

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Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

Roasting vegetables helps to draw out the natural sugars and creates a crispy outside and a tender inside.

Some vegetables need a little cooking to break down enzymes that would otherwise prevent our digestive system from obtaining the vegetables nutrients, like Brussels sprouts among many others.

Other vegetables do just fine eating them raw, though when cooked, they are more flavorful, like carrots, and sweet potatoes among others.

Talking about potatoes, baby potatoes are great for roasting because they are not as starchy, and they can even add some color to a roasted vegetable dish.

It is better to either roast or steam the vegetables. Cooking them in water should only be done for 3 minutes or less, so as not to kill any nutrients.

Even though vegetables are roasted in a 350 to 400 degree oven for about 35 minutes depending on the vegetables being used, the micro-nutrients are never fully destroyed as the internal temperature of the vegetable reaches only about 150 to 165 degrees.

Adding dried herbs like rosemary that has a pine lemony flavor, also has a concentrated flavor and will not burn while roasting.

Where as fresh herbs would burn in a 350 to a 400 degree oven.

Be careful with oregano though, as it has a pungent earthy flavor, and can be over powering if to much is added.

Keep in mind that adding salt to meat or vegetables while being cooked can make them tough, but not so when using salt in its natural form, such as Himalayan salt or sea salt.

These two salts do not only have sodium, but also other trace minerals naturally found in salt rock mines, or ocean salt.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Brussels sprouts and Bacon

1/3 cup organic EV olive oil

3 medium organic rainbow carrots, sliced

1 1/2 cups organic Brussels sprouts, halved

1 1/2 cups organic trio baby potatoes

1 medium organic sweet potato, cut into

1.5 inch slices

1 medium parsnip, cut into 1.5 slices

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1/2 pound thick cut bacon, cut strips into 1 inch pieces

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Place vegetables into a large bowl and mix with herbs and oil.

Spread out vegetables into a 13 X 9 inch glass baking dish. Place dish on middle rack in oven and roast for 35 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile fry bacon in a large pan over low heat. Do not let bacon get crispy.

In a large serving bowl add and mix roasted vegetables and bacon with a little bacon drippings.

Serve as a side dish or as a main dish as it contains meat (if doing so add 1 pound of bacon).

 

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