Variety of Veggies

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sardia
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Variety of Veggies

Postby sardia » Wed Sep 01, 2010 10:02 am UTC

I've grown up with Chinese food all my life, but I'm becoming more independent now. As a result, a concern of mine is nutrition. My diet for vegetables today consists of broccoli, potatoes, onions, and garlic? I get a sprinkling of peas, carrots, carrots, tomato, and corn, but other vegetables for me are pretty rare. The rest of my veggies are pretty much sandwiches and other fast food fare.
Is this list diverse enough to get all my needed nutrients? If not, what's a good vegetable to start cooking with and how?
I've messed around with leeks in my soup or asparagus in my pot pies, but I've rarely been satisfied with them. I have a typical diet heavy in grains and starches followed by the meat groups.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby dubsola » Wed Sep 01, 2010 11:00 am UTC

My advice is to experiment. Most vegetables have some positive nutritional benefits, and you will be a better person for trying new things.

Go to a fresh fruit and vegetable market and shop around. Pick out vegetables, find out what they are, take them home and look up what to do with them on the on the internet. Long term, see if there's a home delivery service for fruit and vegetables, such as Abel and Cole. You'll never run out of vegetables to try and you'll be eating with the seasons.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Sep 01, 2010 1:33 pm UTC

You could also go to the library and check out a few cookbooks about vegetables. Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven is one of my favorites. Salads are a good way to get different vegetables into your diet.
Mostly you have to be willing to try foods you haven't eaten much, or to cook ones you think you don't like differently. It's often the case that people don't like vegetables cooked the way they were at home.
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby sardia » Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:34 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:You could also go to the library and check out a few cookbooks about vegetables. Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven is one of my favorites. Salads are a good way to get different vegetables into your diet.
Mostly you have to be willing to try foods you haven't eaten much, or to cook ones you think you don't like differently. It's often the case that people don't like vegetables cooked the way they were at home.

Can you post one of the recipes you like? My only requirement is that I have no working oven. I ask because anybody can say go look through this cookbook, but if you made the dish it means more.
Making a salad seems like such a cop-out though. I mean, sure I can cucumbers, celery, and just about anything else with ranch or italian dressing raw but it doesn't work with all vegetables and I'm not that big of a salad guy. Well, I wouldn't take the time to make it, but if someone else gets it, I do like to have some.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby Nath » Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:49 am UTC

What's your cooking style? If you're the kind of person who makes an entree and side dishes, it's pretty easy to start making vegetable sides. Start with simply seasoned steamed or sauteed vegetables. I mostly use frozen vegetables for this: microwave with a little water, drain, add salt, pepper, something acidic, and a little olive oil; mix, drain again and serve. Indian cuisine also has a bunch of simple vegetable dishes; eggplant, okra, peas, various gourds etc. Most east and southeast Asian cuisines have a variety of simple vegetable stir-fries.

I'm usually more of a one-pot meal person, though. If you can make curries or stews with a tomato-onion base, you can make filling chickpea or black bean meals. Or you can make a meat or egg-based dish off the same base, and throw in some frozen spinach or peas. Or start with a mirepoix and milder seasonings instead of onions, garlic and Indian spices.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby Moo » Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:28 am UTC

It's of course a huge simplification but a good rule of thumb is that the more different colours fruit/veg you eat, the more diverse the nutritional value.
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby Coffee » Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:19 pm UTC

Mashed sweet potatoes:

1 lb sweet potato, peeled & cubed
2 chipotle chilies, minced
2 tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste

Steam the sweet potato cubes for approx 20 minutes, or until they're mashable; now transfer them into a mixing bowl. Add the chilies, butter, salt & pepper. Mash. Eat. Yum.
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby sardia » Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:56 pm UTC

Coffee wrote:Mashed sweet potatoes:

1 lb sweet potato, peeled & cubed
2 chipotle chilies, minced
2 tbsp butter
salt & pepper to taste

Steam the sweet potato cubes for approx 20 minutes, or until they're mashable; now transfer them into a mixing bowl. Add the chilies, butter, salt & pepper. Mash. Eat. Yum.

I'll go make this in a couple days, but it brings me to another point. Is it ok to have your vegetables consists of starchy instead of leafy things? I mean I love potatoes, corn, and beans but I rarely cook leafy vegetables. I always wondered if I was missing anything nutritionally.

I'll can cook main dish/side dish or 1 pot meals, but regardless of what I cook, I'll have steamed rice with it.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby PictureSarah » Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:06 pm UTC

You, uh, pretty much NEED leafy greens. Too many starches aren't good for you, and leafy greens are full of things like vitamin K and folic acid. You also need a bit of fat to make most efficient use of all these nutrients, so drizzle a bit of olive oil on your salad for best results.
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby PAstrychef » Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:43 am UTC

One of my favorite new recipes for vegetables is this one from the NY Times. His recipe for cabbage, chestnuts and shrimp is also great.
As you're a rice fan, the Spinach and rice pie from Vegetable Heaven should be right up your alley.
I like to get one zucchini and one yellow squash-they're usually next to each other in the produce bins-slice them about 1/4" thick and saute them in a thin coat of olive oil. I often add a sliced onion and/or mushrooms to the pan. Use a pan with plenty of room for the squashes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and you can add a nice herb mix like Herbs Parisienne from Penzeys. Serve when the squashes are golden brown.
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby Okita » Fri Sep 03, 2010 10:03 pm UTC

sardia wrote:I've grown up with Chinese food all my life, but I'm becoming more independent now.


Normally this is a signifier that you eat enough veggies.

What about all those delicious chinese vegetable dishes?
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby sardia » Sun Sep 05, 2010 6:16 am UTC

Okita wrote:
sardia wrote:I've grown up with Chinese food all my life, but I'm becoming more independent now.


Normally this is a signifier that you eat enough veggies.

What about all those delicious chinese vegetable dishes?

It's hard to get those in a college campus away from home; I don't have easy access to traditional chinese vegetables. I used to get a lot of vegetables, now I don't, hence the thread. also, It's easier and faster to learn how to cook w/e is available from the grocery store. I only know how to make salads, which bore me. Stir frying or tossing vegetables into a pot seems to be the easiest choice. Just not sure which leafy green plant to start off with.
Well, broccoli has gone pretty far, but I want to test some other stuff before going back to old standbys.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby PAstrychef » Mon Sep 06, 2010 2:19 am UTC

Some leafy greens are cooked quickly, like spinach and baby bok choy, and some need a lot of time with some salt pork product, like collard and mustard greens. Kale can be braised or steamed and then sauteed, or sprayed with oil and baked to a delicate crisp, when you have an oven.
Cabbage can be sauteed or braised, same for napa cabbage. Most anything can be steamed in a microwave until soft.
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby Moo » Mon Sep 06, 2010 1:36 pm UTC

I am extremely fond of oven roasted veggies and it's a tasty way to get in a variety of vegetables. I'm really bad at posting recipes though because I do everything by feel. Veg that works well includes butternut, baby potatoes, sweet potato, patty pan squash, baby marrow/courgette/zucchini, sweet (bell/capsicum) peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion, carrot and button mushrooms.

Chop into nice chunks, drizzle over some olive oil, add optional seasoning and bake until scrummy and very roasted-looking (if you're using tomatoes they get added very late though). Maybe someone can offer some actual advice on oven temperature and time? My mom puts foil over at first, I don't. If I'm in a hurry, I just microwave the veg, drizzle and place under the grill/broiler, giving it a shake regularly.
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby Amarantha » Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:24 am UTC

Moo wrote:I am extremely fond of oven roasted veggies... Veg that works well includes butternut, baby potatoes, sweet potato, patty pan squash, baby marrow/courgette/zucchini, sweet (bell/capsicum) peppers, cherry tomatoes, onion, carrot and button mushrooms.
^Very much this. Also cauliflower, eggplant and corn. Can't advise on temp/time because I work by feel/look/smell. But it really is hard to get wrong. Different conditions will give different results, but they're usually good in their own way.
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby dubsola » Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:25 am UTC

I'm also a fan, but I think this person doesn't have access to an oven.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby Moo » Tue Sep 07, 2010 10:39 am UTC

Checked the OP at time of posting, and it didn't mention what they can access but it did mention pot pies, so I made an assumption. I see now a subsequent post mentions no oven.

@Sardia: do you have a grill/broiler?
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby dubsola » Tue Sep 07, 2010 1:26 pm UTC

It's a shame, because an oven is great for providing options for vegetables. I think roast root vegetables (like pumpkin) are much tastier than boiled.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby Sandry » Wed Sep 08, 2010 12:25 am UTC

Pretty much any leafy green can be done in a frying pan with just a bit of oil and some salt, and if you like garlic, definitely that. Or some ginger, if you prefer.

I realise I'm somewhat disagreeing with PAstrychef, but I will never, ever long term cook my greens with pork product, and I still enjoy stuff like collards that traditionally gets that treatment without needing to resort to it to make them tasty. For the least tender greens, you may be best served by a brief blanching (dropping it in boiling water for just a moment or so).

With spinach, escarole or arugula (called rocket if not in the US, I believe), for example, rinse and then proceed with the above. Other stuff, like kale, collards, chards, you may want to de-stalkify the most aggressively tough stalky bits, then slice up a bit and blanch before proceeding with the above.

I'd advise trying several leafy greens and finding what you like - some are more bitter than others, some just have different tastes to them. There are a lot of options in the "greens" arena, including all the mentioned above plus fun things like pea greens (or pea tendrils), and there are even many things traditionally thought of as salad greens that can be either done raw or sauteed to good effect.
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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby dubsola » Thu Sep 16, 2010 2:12 pm UTC

I've just thought of a great recipe that you can make on a stove, it's a sort of Spanish stew. Absolutely delicious served with crusty bread. Takes about 40 minutes, but most of that is just letting the thing cook. Also, you can improvise and nothing will go wrong. Feel free to not add certain ingredients, or replace them with other ones. It's fine. This is actually a really easy recipe, you can make it as complicated as you like, but leaving ingredients out won't hurt you at all.


Main ingredients
-A root vegetable: butternut squash is my favourite, but you could use sweet potato or regular potato
-A can of chick peas (also known as garbanzo beans) / butter beans
-A can or two of peeled plum tomatoes (some people prefer chopped, I don't. Well worth buying the more expensive option, if you have more than one in front of you)
-Baby spinach
-Garlic and onion (two crucial ingredients for stews)
-Choice: Chorizo if you want to add some saltyness and eat meat, otherwise halumi is a good substitute. Either of these two things will help kick this stew into the 'gosh darn amazing' category.
-Optional: Celery

Flavourings
-Salt and pepper
-Herbs: Fresh thyme if you have it, but you can substitute with rosemary if you want, or dried thyme / rosemary / oregano. Also, a bay leaf if you have that. Personally I always have dried herbs on the shelf.
-Coriander seeds
-Paprika
-Fresh flat parsley, or basil if you don't like parsley
-Optional: a little bit of powdered vegetable stock
-Optional: chilli powder or cayenne pepper - something hot. I only add a little bit, enough to give the stew some pep but not enough to make it noticeably hot.

Chopping and other preparation
Chop up your root vegetable into bite-sized chunks. You can leave the skin on if you don't hate it.
Chop up the onion and garlic.
Bash the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle if you have one, otherwise don't worry. You could improvise and put them in a tea towel and bash them with something heavy. Or you could just leave them as is. You could even not add coriander seeds.
If you have chorizo, chop it up all rough-like
Wash the baby spinach. Grit is no good.

First cooking bits
If you're using chorizo, throw it in the pan - not too hot, and it only needs a half a minute or so. Take the chorizo out and you will now cook in the oil of the chorizo. If not, no worries, carry on.
Put the coriander seeds in the frying pan - you don't need oil but it's ok if you do. Get the aromas going by cooking them for half a minute, they should pop a little.
Add some oil if you need to, and fry the onion for a little bit in some oil, then throw in the garlic. Get used to frying onion and garlic properly, you don't want to burn anything and it's the starting point for many, many recipes. Garlic needs less time to cook than onion.

Main cooking
Add the canned tomatoes, stir it all up and get the heat through the whole thing.
Add all the seasonings except the paprika - some salt and pepper, the chilli, the vegetable stock powder, and the thyme / rosemary / dried herbs and the bayleaf, stir it all up.
Add the root vegetable. If you're using celery, chop that up and add it too.
Wait a bit, let the root vegetable cook. Once the root veg is starting to go soft (poke a big bit with your fork, it should slide in easily), you're just about ready for the last steps.

Last steps
Add the chick peas / butter beans, the paprika, and the chorizo if you're doing that, if not, chop up your halumi and fry in a separate pan, then add that. Mix it all up, and let it cook for another couple of minutes.
Taste it, if it doesn't taste amazing add a bit of salt and pepper. It'll taste amazing anyway, but salt really helps food.
Turn off the heat, add the baby spinach and mix it in so it wilts a little bit. You can add quite a bit of baby spinach, it shrinks a lot.

More options: use regular spinach and let it cook for a bit longer, or use chopped up kale and let it cook for even longer. You can skip the cheese and then this recipe is vegan.

--

You're done! Serve that bad boy in a bowl and have some crusty bread on the side to dip in and soak up the juice.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby sardia » Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:40 am UTC

This sounds intriguing except you said you just thought it up. Have you actually tried this?
As for american vegetables, I gave up and grabbed some old fashion chinese cooking. By that, I meant I cooked some Congee rice and it ate it with pickled lettuce, tofu in soy sauce, and Zha cai.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby shanghaitexan » Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:53 am UTC

i'm from america and currently living in china and face a similar problem since the vegetables and other ingredients are a bit different here. i cook a lot of shanghai qing (baby bok choy? not sure of the english name, actually), cabbage, and pumpkin. i'm typically lazy and just boil the shanghai qing. the cababge i stir fry with just a tiny bit of olive oil and then soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hot sauce and then add a cornstarch/water mixture and cook til it thickens up. make what i'm eating seem a little more substantial than just cabbage. for the pumpkin i lightly fry it for a while in my sauces of choice, and then i lower the heat to a simmer, add about a cup of water, cover, and let it sit until the water is all absorbed. sometimes i use cinnamon and sugar instead of soy sauce and hot sauce for some variety (but make sure the wok is clean so it doesn't absorb previous flavors, then it just tastes weird haha). sorry none of this is more detailed, i'm just not a very detail oriented person when cooking.

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Re: Variety of Veggies

Postby dubsola » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:50 pm UTC

sardia wrote:This sounds intriguing except you said you just thought it up. Have you actually tried this?

I meant "I just remembered". I've made it many times.


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