An easier, speedier way to eat more vegetables

12/30/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:20 AM

It’s the same thing every year. We overindulge during the holidays, then make solemn (and quickly abandoned) promises to eat healthier and shed pounds in the new year.

So here’s a sane and simple resolution that will help you achieve both goals in a single stroke: Eat more vegetables.

It’s no secret that almost all vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. Most also are good sources of dietary fiber, potassium, folate and vitamins A and C. If you did nothing more than pile your plate with vegetables, add a small portion of lean protein, and ramp up your daily exercise a bit, you’d probably find all that extra holiday baggage dropping away without having to count calories.

The only problem with eating more vegetables is that it can take a significant amount of time to prep them, and even more time to cook them. Messing with root vegetables is often a marathon. Beets require 45 minutes to steam or an hour to bake. Carrots or parsnips also can be pretty time-consuming. You can cut the cooking time if you first slice them into smaller pieces, but not all of us are aces with a knife.

This is why I love my food processor. If you use it with the grating disk attachment – as I do for this trio of recipes – you’re home free. Those marathon beets? You can grate and saute them in minutes. Same for the carrots and parsnips. Best of all, having cooked up your grated veggies in a bit of oil, you have maximized their flavor, as opposed to steaming or boiling them, which dilutes it.

As an added psychological benefit – at least for me – there’s something crudely satisfying about the raw power of the grater. After a bad day at the office or a rough afternoon with the kids, it’s a pure pleasure to noisily grind down those vegetables chunk by chunk.

Enhance the finished product however you want, with nuts, your favorite spices or herbs, or a squeeze of citrus or other acid. Just be sure to put a mix of colors on the plate; for the most part, the brighter the color, the better the nutrition.

And on a night when you are truly squeezed for time, you don’t even have to cook your shredded veggies. They’re equally delicious raw. Just toss them with lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Have fun with your vegetables. You’ll be delighted with what happens when you move them to the center of your plate.

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