Eggplant? Beets me!

I am glad I am being encouraged/pushed to try new produce options. I am bad about eating vegetables in general and when I do, they are usually the usual suspects. Carrots make for easy, fresh eating and broccoli – with it’s lush greenness and weight – always makes me feel like I am really taking care of myself when I eat it. Aside from these two, I would mostly get vegetables in my diet from meals prepared by others or at restaurants. I like vegetables – I do – but I am intimidated by them and don’t know how to prepare them quickly without adding fats or oils. Activities like our assignment this week help get me out of my comfort zone, which is excellent.They also encourage me to buy more produce than I normally do, which is pretty limited each week. I think it would be a good idea for me to purchase some bulk produce each week so I can add things easily to meals, especially easy side dishes (like the beets turned out to be).

I chose eggplant and golden beets for my produce this week.  Now, you may be thinking that these are not particularly unusual items, but for me, they are a stretch. I made 3 different recipes – an entree, a breakfast item, and a side – and my experience was a bit mixed. I think I learned from this exercise that I am not crazy about eggplant, but my like of beets was ramped up to a “love”!

Recipe #1 Eggplant and Tofu Stirfry

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/browse-all-recipes/eggplant-tofu-stir-fry


I get bonus points for this one – eggplant AND tofu, two things I very seldomly cook with. I learned from this experience that I am not too big of a fan cooking eggplant in oil. It seems like the eggplant becomes almost a sponge for the oil, sucking in the flavor and texture so much that it makes it a bit slimy and unpleasant. I think the Hoisin sauce I had might have also been too sweet, as the whole dish seemed not quite savory enough for an entree. My husband loved it, however, and I felt especially proud of myself when I used my own “kitchen intuition” to add cashews to the dish for some crunch. I did find that I liked using tofu and that I would be open to substituting this for meat somewhat regularly in the future.

Recipe #2 Roasted Lemon Golden Beets

http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252469/lemon-herb-roasted-beets/


This recipe was the “winner” of the 3. It’s a pretty simple idea – roasting beets in a bit of oil and spices, but the addition of lemon zest really makes the flavor pop in such a lovely way. I could see substituting beets now as a side for any occasion I want an option to roasted potatoes. The preparation was so easy and the result so flavorful. I think I am going to keep more lemons on hand in the future because lemon zest seems like a miracle ingredient to me now.

Recipe #3 Mixed Berry and Beet Smoothie

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/12355-mixed-berry-and-beet-smoothie

I’m not great about eating breakfast. I will often just eat a Kind bar or a cup of yogurt with some fruit. It works for me, but I could be more adventurous and certainly more intentional about adding produce to my morning routine. I thought an easy way to do this might be to try a beet smoothie (we got a new blender as a wedding present and it’s awesome). While I liked the added flavor of the beets, I would not recommend using raw beets (the recipe says you can use either raw or cooked) as they do not blend as well and it effects the texture.

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