A few weekends ago at the Kalamazoo Farmer’s Market, the PFC table had a grocery set up demonstrating how much food one could get for just $40. In the picture below (find the video here!), we see the veggies and fruits that we are super familiar with; bell peppers, cucumbers, apples, tomatoes, and carrots. But what about our less familiar friends, the purple potato, eggplant and cauliflower? What’s up with those veggies, and why should we eat them? The answers are a.) because they are super delicious and in season and b.) because they are extremely nutrient dense foods! Read on to learn about our “misfit” veggies.
This vibrant purple colored potato is nutritionally not too different than the average russet potato- both have the same amount of calories, carbs, protein, starch and fiber. The one difference between them is the purple color, which is due to the flavonoid called anthocynanin. Anthocynanin works double duty- not only does it provide pigment, but it is also a strong antioxidant that is linked to reducing cardiovascular disease, coronary artery disease, and blood pressure. Anthocynanin also has anti-carcinogenic effects and is known to enhance memory and cognitive functions.
How to eat: Since they are in season right now, head on over to the Kalamazoo Farmer’s Market and pick some of these babies up. Since they have the same starchy texture as a normal potato, you can sub them for any traditional potato recipe, such as mashed potatoes, potato soup, potato salad, and baked potatoes! Or you can try a healthier spin on French fries below that have all the flavor and crunch as your normal French fry, but not near as much unhealthy fats.
2 servings, 50 minutes total time
2 large purple potatoes (or 4 small ones) - 1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. onion powder
Directions: 5 minute prep time, 45 minute cook time
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Cut potatoes into wedges. Mix olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, chili powder and onion powder in a bowl.
3. Toss the potato wedges in with the olive oil mixture until evenly coated.
4. Lay potato wedges flat onto a baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Tip: Try to leave the skin on, as the skin contains much of vitamins, fiber and minerals.
Cauliflower is that vegetable we all are reluctantly familiar in-you know what I’m talking about- as in it’s usually the last, abandoned raw veggie in the party tray brought to events because everyone avoids it like the plague. Despite its’ harsh stigma for being tasteless, cauliflower cooked in creative ways is actually super tasty and has huge nutritional benefits. It’s super low in calories and has an exceptionally high amount of vitamin C (one serving is 73% of your daily value!). Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that boosts immunity against illness and disease, helps lower risk of cancer, has a significant role in healing wounds, and fights against free-radicals. Other noteworthy vitamins and minerals cauliflower provides are vitamin K, folate, fiber, and phytochemicals.
How to eat: Snack on it raw with hummus instead of ranch, mash it up as a lower calorie alternative to mashed potatoes, roast it in the oven with a touch of olive oil, crumble the florets and sauté it as “rice,” or my personal favorite: make a grain-free pizza crust, which is perfect for people who are on low-calorie diets or are allergic to wheat.
1 crust, 40 minutes total time
1 head of cauliflower, stalk removed
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
any desired additional pizza toppings
Directions: 5 minute prep time, 10 minute inactive time, 25 minute cook time
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Break the cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until fine.
3. Steam in a steamer basket and drain well to get as much moisture as possible out. Let cool for ten minutes.
4. In a bowl, combine the cauliflower with the mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, salt, garlic powder and eggs. Transfer to the center of the baking sheet and spread into a circle, resembling a pizza crust. Bake for 20 minutes.
5. Add desired toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Tip: There are many other varieties of cauliflower, so don’t just get white, have fun with it and try the orange and purple varieties as well!
The glossy purple-black eggplant is actually considered a fruit, not a veggie (strange, I know!) and belongs to the night-shade family. It is native to India and has many varieties ranging from purple, white, and striped colors. Known for its’ “meaty” texture, it is a great vegetarian substitute for meat if you’re getting bored of tofu and other soy products. Our lovely eggplant is a nutritional star in providing high values of fiber (14% of daily value per serving!), potassium, folate, vitamin C and K, vitamin B6, and exceptionally large amounts in manganese. Manganese plays a huge role in antioxidant functions (i.e. prevents free radical damage), metabolism, wound healing, and bone development.
How to eat: Move over, eggplant Parmesan! Try some new spins on eggplant by sautéing it in an omelet, baking on a pizza, pureeing it into a creamy dip, topping a salad with it, or try a hearty favorite: simmering with other delicious veggies in a recipe known as ratatouille. The great thing about this recipe is that most of the ingredients are available at the Kalamazoo Farmer’s Market, too!
4 servings, 2 hours and 15 minutes total
1/3 cup olive oil
3 medium eggplants cut into ½ inch thick rounds
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch thick rounds
2 large onions, sliced
1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped
2 red bell peppers cored and sliced
1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped
6 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into 8 pieces
6-8 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tsp. of salt and pepper, or to taste
Directions: 15 minute prep time, 2 hour cooking time
1. Add the olive oil and garlic to a large wok or pan and sauté over medium heat until the garlic starts to brown and is fragrant.
2. Turn down the heat to low and then add the onions and bell peppers. Cover the pan with a lid and let the onions wilt, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and sauté the vegetables until all the water released has evaporated and the onions start to brown.
3. Add the tomatoes, cover the pan with the lid, and simmer until the tomatoes are soft and have released a lot of liquid.
4. Add the eggplants, zucchini, parsley, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and then cover with a lid and allow the vegetables to cook until tender (30-40 minutes), stirring occasionally.
5. When the vegetables are soft, remove the lid and let the ratatouille continue to simmer until the excess liquid has evaporated and the stew is nice and thick. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
Tip: When eggplant is fully cooked, it is no longer crunchy and generally has a silky texture
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