During colder weather, it can be a bit more challenging to plan healthier meals as produce-in-season is more limited. In this blog, I’ll share some more budget-friendly recipes and how to make healthy vegetables a mainstay of our diet.
Lentils are not technically a vegetable as they are in the legume family. They are also one of the highest vegetarian sources of protein. Did you know that just 1 cup of cooked lentils provides 18 grams of protein and are a great source of iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and B-vitamins? My sister perfected this lentil soup recipe – she makes a big batch to have throughout the week OR freezes it in Pyrex containers for future meals.
- 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped (can use other root vegetables like turnip and parsnip)
- 2 celeries, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 cup dry brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1 cup spinach or chopped kale (tough stalks removed)
Heat oil in a large pot on medium heat. Saute onion, celery and carrot until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cumin and curry powder and bloom the spices, about 30 seconds. Add the dry lentils, broth and water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Bring the soup to boil. Then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add chopped greens and cook for 5 more minutes. Add more salt to taste. Ready to serve!
Brussels sprouts are in the Brassicaceae family of cruciferous vegetables and are low in calories but packed with nutrients, especially fiber, vitamin K and C. They also contain antioxidant compounds that reduce oxidative stress, inflammation and lower the risk of chronic disease. Studies have shown the benefits of brussels sprouts consumption in reducing the risk of diseases like cancer.
Here’s an easy salad recipe that’s great as a side dish or for lunch
Brussel Sprouts Salad
- 1 bag of brussels sprouts (or ~0.6-0.7 pound)
- 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
- 3 TBSP olive oil
- 3 TBSP lemon juice
- ½ TBSP mustard (Dijon or yellow)
- ½ tsp salt
- Black pepper to taste
- Handful of chopped nuts (walnut, cashew or almond)
Cut brussels sprouts in half and boil them in a pot of boiling water for ~5 min or until done (tender yet firm). Drain the sprouts and put into a salad bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the sprouts and toss. Top with a handful of nuts and serve!
Onions are in the allium family and are rich in soluble fiber and vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, folate, potassium selenium, manganese and vitamin C. Onions have been used over thousands of years as natural remedies due to its health enhancing properties. Onions are rich in flavonoid compounds like anthocyanins and quercetin which have demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12410539/ . Onions are an incredibly versatile and inexpensive ingredient and can be used raw or cooked in many recipes. Since I’m not a fan of eating a lot of raw onion (It’s hard to get rid of onion breath), here’s an onion soup recipe that uses 2 pounds of onions!
This makes multiple servings so you can save the soup and then reheat with bread and cheese.
French Onion Soup
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 pounds yellow or white onions
- 2 containers (32oz) of beef broth (can substitute with chicken or vegetable broth)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- 5 ounces Swiss cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sliced bread (opt for whole grain)
Cut onions into thin slices (you may want to wear some glasses or protective eye gear as onions release a natural chemical that irritates our glands and produces tears). To a soup pot, add olive oil and the onions and cook until caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Then add beef broth, bay leaves, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Turn oven onto broil and warm up. Spread a dash of olive oil on the sliced bread and toast until brown. When oven is ready, ladle the soup into an oven-safe soup bowl, then place the toasted bread and top with cheese. Broil on the top rack of the oven until cheese is melted and browned. It’s ready to serve!
Did you know that beets are good for your heart? Beets contain natural nitrates (not the nitrates found in processed meats) that convert into nitric oxide in the body – this opens up the blood vessels and lowers blood pressure and heart rate. This study showed that consumption of one cup of beetroot juice daily for four weeks sustained a reduction in blood pressure in hypertensive patients. But that’s not all – high in vitamins A, C, K, and B2 as well as folate, manganese, and copper, beets reduce inflammation, support digestion and a balanced immune system. One of my favorite ways to consume beets is by roasting them. Here’s one of my go-to recipes:
Roasted Beet Salad
- 6 medium beets, cleaned and trimmed
- 3 TBSP of balsamic vinegar
- 3 TBSP of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
To a 400 degree preheated oven, put in aluminum wrapped beets on a baking sheet. Roast until soft in the middle (~50-60 minutes). When cooled, unwrap and peel beets and cut into bite-size pieces. Add olive oil, balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Pour over beets and toss. This can be served warm or cold.