Trying to lose weight or keep from gaining back the weight that you lost, but the holiday season is approaching along with the exposure to all kinds of yummy and hard-to-pass-up, fattening food choices? Everyone says to increase your veggie intake if you want to keep the weight off. But this can get boring after having your fill of broccoli and spinach, celery and carrots. If you’re looking to expand your veggie repertoire, then try these not-so-typical veggie sides on for size.
Asparagus. Asparagus is considered a delicacy by some, but yet it’s readily available both in the fresh and frozen produce sections of your local grocery store. This tasty veggie cooks up quickly with minimal prepwork. Just pop off the woody ends, rinse well to remove any sandy soil, and simmer on the stovetop in a shallow pan of water for a few minutes until the spears soften to fork-tender. Submerge in cold or icy water to stop the cooking. Dress with fresh herbs and vinaigrette. Delicious and packed with nutrition, makes a perfect accompaniment to roasted meats.
Broccoli Rabe. You may have tried this bitter, stringy vegetable served with sausage and pasta at an Italian restaurant. But it’s just as easy to prepare broccoli rabe at home. Start by rinsing and scrubbing any soil from the leaves and stalks. Set a pot of water to boiling and plunge the broccoli rabe in to simmer for about 10 minutes or until wilted. Remove from the cooking water. Set in a colander and pour ice water over all to stop the cooking. Cook sausages in a skillet until done, then drain the excess fat. Add a bit of olive oil and chopped garlic, along with the blanched broccoli rabe. Serve with rice or whole-grain pasta.
Cabbage. Cabbage is one of the most economical vegetables you can purchase, and it goes well with most any meat. Like its cruciferous cousins, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, cabbage has cancer-fighting properties, making it ideal for your holiday meal preparation. Ideas include cooking with onions, vinegar, honey and spices to serve with Polish or Italian sausage, or simmering in a red sauce with ground lean meat such as turkey; garlic, onions, raisins and caraway, to make “unstuffed cabbage” served with whole-grain rice.
Kale. Kale gets holiday points for being festive looking with its dark, blue-green curly leaves. To prepare, wash and remove leaves from ribs, and discard ribs which are too tough to eat. Sautee on the stove top with a tiny bit of anchovy paste, and some chopped onion, olive oil and garlic. Add in a small can of tomato. Simmer until the kale leaves are wilted, about 15 or 20 minutes. Makes a nice accompaniment to roasted, herbed pork. You can also cook kale and red kidney beans together with white potatoes in a festive and hearty soup.
Swiss Chard. Swiss chard cooks up quickly and imparts an earthy, bold taste that is not bitter. If you enjoy making and serving homemade quiche for the holidays, then do a variation on the traditional spinach pie made with egg and cheese. Add chopped Swiss chard to your whole-grain pie shell filled with 4 beaten eggs, a sprinkle of onion, one cup or so of milk, and grated mild cheese such as Swiss or Monterey jack. Bake at 350 until egg is solid and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Brussels Sprouts. There’s a favorite Brussels sprouts recipe that’s trending of late. If you haven’t tried it, you won’t be disappointed. Start by frying bacon to crispy and saving a bit of the drippings. Crumble up the bacon. Place Brussels sprouts into a Pyrex baking dish. Pour olive oil over top and sprinkle on minced garlic. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Remove and toss in bacon crumbles. Add a splash of Balsamic vinegar and season lightly with salt and pepper.
Turnips. More people should know about the savory deliciousness that is turnips. They make a perfect low-carb substitute for white potatoes and also mash up nicely when simmered to soft and then mixed with cream, butter, salt and pepper and a bit of garlic or onion for flavor. Whip up some tangy and tasty turnips to serve with slices of roast beef or pork.
Cauliflower. Cauliflower is fast becoming the low-carb lover’s rice and starch sub-in ingredient. Did you know that you can even make a low-carb pizza crust out of cauliflower? It is both delicious and nutritious, and believe it or not holds together nicely even when topped with a pile of melted cheese. Look for “riced cauliflower” when searching for nutritious low-carb options to serve as holiday sides this December.