Lifelong is the battle to heed our daunting mother’s advice to finish your vegetables. There are so many great benefits to eating vegetables, it seems criminal to deny my body of so many invaluable nutrients. One good thing about growing up in sunny California is having all the fruits and vegetables you could imagine at your fingertips. Sure, we have seasonal appearances from winter squashes and summer berries, but for the most part, California is one big veggie party year round.
Since I graduated college [and realized my diet consisted of four food groups: pizza, burritos, wine and vodka], I have been trying to come up with creative ways to reinvent veggies so that I can get at least 3 servings into my everyday diet. But after working in the food biz for a few years now, I have come to learn that many of the ways I have sought to innovate boring veggie sides are guilty of cooking off many of their nutrients. So I try to keep it simple by steaming or roasting my vegetables of choice. Typically when I am at the market, I go for bell peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and avocados. But I also know how important variety in our diet is, so I have been venturing out of my grocery basket in search of new flavors to introduce to my palette.
Last night, some girlfriends and I decided to go out for a dinner outing at one of our favorite spots in La Jolla, Herringbone. Although I work with all of the fabric-themed restaurants owned by Brian Malarkey & James Brennan, I have come to really appreciate the lighter fare at Herringbone. Chef Amanda Baumgarten came by our table to say hello after we had ordered our drinks, and shared with us her newest [and favorite] item on the menu: Vegetable Crutides from Suzie’s Farms. I have always been a fan of Amanda’s signature arancini [fried risotto balls], but it seemed she had turned a new leaf with this recent favorite dish. But in the chef I trust, so I dove right into this colorful plate of root vegetables I had never been a fan of. But after a few samples, I really started to enjoy what I was experiencing.
Yellow carrots – Carrots in any color but orange have always freaked me out. I don’t know why, considering the color has very little effect on the taste. But this was the second time I had given them a try and they were so tasty I ended up hoarding them all [sorry girls!]. They had a firm and crunchy texture with an earthy sweet flavor. Yellow carrots, like their orange sistas, are full of Vitamin A which is good for your vision.
Turnips – Surprisingly, this was my first time eating raw turnip. The texture was almost like a hybrid of an apple and a carrot, and the flavor was mildly bitter. Turnips have high amounts of vitamin C, which is good for your immune system.
Radishes – Like the turnip, radishes have high values of vitamin C. They are extremely similar in texture and size, but the color and flavor vary slightly. Little known fact about these root veggies: Radishes are related to wasabi, a type of horseradish, which in paste form is a staple condiment of Japanese cuisine.
Romaine – This heart healthy green is an almost-prefect vegetable. The baby variety we enjoyed with our other veggies was so light and yummy, it was a perfect palette cleanser between plates. Romaine has high values of vitamins A, C (more than an orange!), K and folate, and is also a complete protein.