Sneaky Nutrition For the Holidays and Beyond
As an organic private chef and caterer, food is my life. I don’t take shortcuts when it comes to nutrition because there are so many easy ways to get extra nutrients into food.
This article can also be found at the Galena Times website at www.galenatimes.com
1. Spinach is one of the most nutritious all around sneaky food fix that there is. It should be lightly cooked to best access nutrients and reduce oxalic acid content, and when sautéed preserves more nutrients than boiled. Super packed with vitamins A, C , K, B2, carotenoids, magnesium, folic acid and iron, spinach can be disguised as herbs and pairs well with garlic, nutmeg, thyme, parsley or basil.
A couple of handfuls or cups a day is plenty. Try “batch-processing” spinach by buying in bulk and precooking and freezing or putting in glass containers in the fridge, best used within 4 days.
Some spinach ideas are:
cooked, chopped and added to whipped eggs for an easy frittata or breakfast burritos for holiday sleepover company
cooked or raw chopped in smoothies
cooked, chopped and added to vegetarian or meat chili, tacos, burritos and curries for those winter weekend football gatherings(here’s a recipe for vegan curry where you can substitute spinach for kale from my blog, www.fiveminutemeals.net)
cooked, chopped and added to bread stuffing for turkey, with feta and parmesan for stuffed mushroom hors d’oeuvres, as a crostini with goat cheese, pizza topping, or simply sautéed with garlic and shredded carrots for a simple accompaniment to fish and meat
spinach-stuffed rolled pork loins or breast of veal are wonderful for more formal holiday gatherings
2. Carrots are almost as versatile as spinach. Recent research shows that carrots are in the orange-yellow vegetable group that’s most beneficial for cardiovascular health. Packed with Vitamins A, K, C, Bs, potassium, fiber, and beta carotene as antioxidants, a cup of sliced or shredded carrots a day can be snuck into just about anything. Carrots pair well with honey, coriander, cardamom, dill, basil or cinnamon.
shred or slice and add raw to salads, slaws, wraps and sandwiches or in this quick spring roll recipe
shred and add to pumpkin and bran muffins or holiday sweet breads
add to homemade or store bought pasta sauce, lasagnas, turkey or beef meat loaf, bolognese, chili, tacos and veggie burritos, risottos
add to spinach dip, ranch dip, guacamole, artichoke dip or replace garbanzo beans with roasted carrots for a yummier hummus
add cooked and pureed carrots to mashed potatoes or potato pancakes or fold into a butternut squash and apple soup to add texture and depth
3. Parsley may seem like an afterthought, but this versatile plant adds more than just an old school garnish to the plate and it’s the third food that I sneak into just about everything I cook(except for desserts!)
If you’re able to add a handful of parsley a day to your food, you’re also getting vitamins K, C, A, iron, flavonoids(antioxidants), volatile oils(these are good for protecting against tumor formation and are anti-carcinogenic therefore excellent to add to marinades when grilling).
Add raw parsley to:
homemade juices(roll up in a kale leaf to extract the most juice) and smoothies
homemade marinades and salad dressings with garlic and olive oil, tomato basil salad, tabouli, pestos, every hummus and dip
holiday vegetable casseroles: green bean and mushroom, spinach, broccoli-cheese, a make-ahead cauliflower mash with nutmeg, homemade cranberry relish and chutney
appetizers: crab cakes, crab dip, add to any soft cheese like goat or blue and stuff into cherry tomatoes or endive leaves, Swedish meatballs, tomato parmesan crostini