Lean Into Veggies

Vegetarian meals make a quick, healthy option for dinner.

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The Many Reasons To Eat Vegetables

Let’s face it, cooking meat can take up a lot of precious time in the kitchen, especially if you like your meat well done or when you want to ensure tender, juicy results through a technique like braising. That said, it can be helpful to cut meat out of your dinners for at least one or two nights of the week. That is precisely the inspiration behind this week’s menu, “Lean Into Veggies.”

Apart from the time it can take to prepare meat, there are environmental and health reasons that make people want to reduce their consumption as well. Steaks and chops are delicious, no doubt about that, but it is hard to ignore that there is a higher cost than ever before to being a carnivore, be it for altruistic or nutritional reasons.

Vegetables are rich in fiber (AKA very filling) potassium and vitamin A.

One way to lean into a vegetable forward diet is to buy more vegetables and learn new ways to cook them. From there, you can augment them with small amounts of fish and meats or maybe just incorporate a meat broth to build flavor. A good rule of thumb when cooking with vegetables is to buy the freshest of what is in season and let that inspire your dish. A great dinner is only as good as the ingredients used, afterall. Local farmer’s markets can be a great place to snag the best produce and, by all means, if you have the real estate to plant a small home garden, do so! Vegetables are rich in fiber (AKA very filling) potassium and vitamin A. They are also low in calories, which can help people lose or maintain a healthy weight. 

Grilling vegetables is a great way to bring excitement to vegetables and incorporating creative ingredients like toasted nuts, pomegranate seeds and tahini goes a long way to maximize their potential. It’s the little details in vegetarian cooking that really make all the difference. Roasting your favorite vegetables in a bit of harissa and olive oil or pesto is another great preparation method and, if you’re opting for vegetarian fare but feeling uninspired, simply make one of your favorite dishes, minus the meat. For example, veggie lasagna, fajitas or chili.  

A good rule of thumb when cooking with vegetables is to buy the freshest of what is in season and let that inspire your dish.

One of the vegetables featured in this week’s menu is broccoli, which is an incredibly versatile vegetable that can be used in soups, stir frys, casseroles and more. The flowering head is the most used part of broccoli but the stalks can be used as well and they offer the same vitamins A and C found in the florets. 

Kale is another ingredient featured in your menu and happens to be one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. There are several different varieties of kale, including curly-leaf, bumpy-leaf (also known as Tuscan cabbage) and plain-leaf. Some varieties of kale are simply grown for their ornamental leaves that range in color from red to blue. Technically, they are also edible but they aren’t very palatable, instead commonly used as garnish and even included in trendy wedding bouquets. 

There are several different varieties of kale, including curly-leaf, bumpy-leaf (also known as Tuscan cabbage) and plain-leaf.

It might surprise you to know that it is harder to find a healthier vegetable than kale, which is loaded with potassium, fibre, antioxidants and calcium. It is also a great source of Vitamin C and iron. Benefits of its nutrients include better bone health, digestion, and protection against diabetes and heart disease. 

Instead of a green leaf medley as a salad base, kale makes a nice change. The key with kale salad is to find the right consistency (not too firm but not too soggy). One tip for a great salad is to massage the leaves in a simple vinaigrette. You'll also want to ensure that you've chopped the kale thinly in order to break down its fibrous texture and make it easier to chew. Then, simply top your kale leaves with your favourite salad toppings. Gala apples, toasted pecans and goat cheese are all fabulous options. Other wonderful ways to prepare this mighty leaf are in smoothies, as baked chips and in curries and stews.