I would say that with almost every client that walks through the JCN Clinic doors we aim to get them on the roast vegetables bandwagon. As Nutritionists, we are obviously all about helping you create a well balanced and nourishing diet that suits you and your personal needs. However, at the JCN Clinic we are also mad foodies, and the thought of brown rice, steamed vegetables or a greek salad with a can of tuna every day seriously sends us to a very dark and sad foodie place.
When it comes to weekly food prep for a busy workweek ahead, I think its essential for on-going commitment to a healthy lifestyle to mix things up. You just have to keep the flavours rolling and the excitement about eating there, otherwise it’s just too easy for people to fall off the bandwagon. Some people are content with the same lunch day in and day out, and that’s fine. However I’d say most of you reading this and using the recipes here on the JCN website are more on my side of the fence. You want variety.
Of course variety can come in all shapes and sizes and it can also demand more time. With everyone screaming time poor these days its essential that our meal prep is simplistic while also being tasty and nourishing. That’s where roast vegetables come in and save the day.
For me roast vegetables are a blank canvas. They can be done simplistically with just some seasoning and olive oil and still be wonderful. However we can push them in all different directions by using an array of fresh herbs and spices, or pesto’s and marinades. Here I have used ample amounts of fresh sage, cumin powder, lemon and even some sneaky anchovies. However, some other flavour combinations you may like to try are:
- Sumac, dried chill and oregano
- Seeded mustard, honey and garlic
- Fresh rosemary and thyme with garlic
- Chilli, ginger, honey and orange
- Nutritional yeast and smoked paprika
- Tahini, cumin and coriander
Really the list goes on and on. Its just picking a few pantry and fridge staples and using them to infuse an extra kick of flavour (not to mention nutrition) into your roast vegetables.
When it comes to the selection your vegetables for roasting I suggest choosing an assortment of root vegetables that provide more sustaining complex carbohydrates and starch along with some less starchy vegetables. This will ensure that when you use your roast vegetables as a base for a lunch you do not have to worry about adding extra complex carbs like rice or quinoa for instance. Conversely, you don’t want your roast vegetables to be all starchy root vegetables unless you are mixing your root vegetables with loads of leafy greens and fresh salad ingredients, where they are now no longer the main ingredients. Aim to get a good mix up of the below groups.
Starchy root vegetables
Potato, sweet potato, parsnip, swede
In – betweener’s
Carrot, beetroot, pumpkin
Cauliflower, eggplant, capsicum, fennel, broccoli, zucchini, kale, onion, garlic
If some of these vegetables are new to you for roasting, well then its perfect time to give them a go! We have been so conditioned with our ‘meat and three veg’ upbringing to believe that roast vegetables only equates to potato and pumpkin. There is a plethora of options out there that are simply wonderful roasted. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of vegetables and allows them to caramelise, a natural cooking experience that reins supreme in my biased eyes.
Lastly it comes down to how to put this together. Now you have you magnificent tray of roast vegetables, what are you to do to make this work for your busy week ahead? Firstly, once the vegetables are cooled store them in a sealable container in the fridge. Then, each morning or evening before work pop about one and half cups of them into a container. Then;
add something fresh and green
This could be some baby spinach or rocket, or it might be some chopped up basil or parsley. Its up to you. Just ensure it’s a generous handful of ‘live food’ as Carissa would say.
You may choose to use some of last nights left over meat or it might be a can of tuna or some smoked salmon. It could be some pre-boiled eggs or some tofu. Again its up to you but ensure you add something from the protein family.
Your roast vegetables have been cooked in oil, but I always suggest adding a little more for satiety. It might be some chopped up avocado or it might simply be some more olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.
You don’t need to add extra dressing, especially if your roast vegetables are already coated with lots of flavour already. However, some extra dressing ideas could be balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, a dollop of pesto or a good quality mayonnaise. I also love adding some capers personally.
What do you think? Pretty yum right? Doesn’t it beat the same salad or wrap everyday? I’d love to hear from you below in regards to what vegetables you love to roast and your favourite add on’s to make those vegetables sing. x
easy meal prep with roast vegetables
- 4 – 6 servings
- preparation time
- 10 minutes
- cooking time
- 60 minutes
- 1/4 large pumpkin, cut into medium chunks with skin on and pips and pith attached
- 1 large fennel bulb, stalks and hard core removed cut into large medium chunks
- 2 capsicums, cored and cut into medium sized pieces
- 4 medium parsnips, sliced in half lengthways
- 1/2 head of broccoli, cut into medium sized florets stems and all
- 1 bunch sage
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 bulb garlic, cloves broken up with skin still on
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 5 – 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (don’t be shy)
- 2 -3 anchovies (optional)
- salt and pepper
- // to serve //
- 2 handfuls of fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
- extra olive oil
Preheat your oven to 200c fan forced.
On a large baking tray combine all of the vegetables, garlic and sage. Toss with cumin powder, olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut the lemon in half and place one at each end of the tray flesh side up.
Place in the oven to bake. After 30 minutes remove the tray and give everything a good toss. If it looks a little dry add more olive oil. Add anchovies at this point if you are using them. Additionally, if you feel your broccoli and capsicum are cooked enough then you can take these off the tray and set them aside. You can just add them back in 5 minutes before all the vegetables are done to preheat them if needed.
Your roast vegetables should be done after 60 – 70 minutes, though ideally they should be golden brown and even a little blackened in areas.
To serve the roast vegetables, carefully squeeze the roasted lemons so the juice and pulp goes over all of the warm veg. Toss well with another lug of olive oil, fresh parsley and encourage everyone eating to squeeze their soft garlic from the cloves onto the vegetables also.
Serve with your protein of choice, or store them once cooled for meals during the week ahead.
- When creating a meal from roast vegetables please read up on the blog notes above to ensure you get a good mix of complex carbs, non starchy vegetables, protein and fats, along with a mix of cooked and fresh produce. You can make this as simplistic or as extravagant as you like, the end results is entirely up to you. For instance, a favourite of mine with this particular mix of roast vegetables is to mix them with loads of parsley and then to add some chicken drumsticks like my spicy sticky drumsticks also on the JCN website.
- When choosing your vegetables for roasting, I suggest selecting seasonal vegetables where possible, as these will have the most flavour. I would also suggest selecting an array of colours, which will provide you with a wide mix of nutrients and antioxidants. For instance, the red capsicums used here are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A and B6 and phytochemicals such as beta-carotene, capsantin, quercetin and luteolin (Sun T et cal, 2007, J Food Science) Whereas, broccoli is rich in Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate and manganese, along with phytochemicals called glucosinolates, well known for their oestrogen detoxifying and liver supportive actions. Obviously the more colour we have on our plate the more diversity of nutritional activity we have.
Jessica Cox is a qualified practicing Nutritionist with a Bachelor Health Science (Nutrition) and over 15 years of clinical experience. She is the founder and director JCN Clinic, published author and established recipe developer. Jessica is well respected within health and wellness space for her no fad approach and use of evidence-based nutrition.