This Nov. 18, 2013 photo shows, from left, shredded beets with balsamic, shredded parsnips with walnuts, and shredded spicy carrots, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
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 often is 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.