Keeping Your Meals “Merry and Bright”
by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence
Fresh summer fruits and fall harvest veggies are now a distant friend to our weekly meals. But the importance of their colorful attributes are not just in the nutrition, but also in the enjoyment and presentation of our holiday meals!
The pigments of produce and other plant-based foods are typically an indicator of how much “bang-for-your-buck” micronutrients and phytonutrients the food contains. These nutrients are key to keeping you feeling your best as you race, chase, and battle off wintertime germs. Each color provides different types of these nutrients, which is why a variety of plant-based foods should be a high priority for your plate.
Adding rich hues to our menus also brings a positive sensory experience. While taste buds are king in food acceptance, we all know that we first eat with our eyes! Research has shown that a variety of colors, in addition to textures, can increase selection and perceived enjoyment of the meals.
So what’s a girl or guy to do in the seasonal low of fresh produce? Here’s some tips to keep your holiday meals “Merry and Bright”:
- Don’t fear frozen! Having freezer ready produce is not only more cost effective during the winter months (have you priced out fresh blueberries right now?), but also the freezing helps lock in nutrients. They are ready to roll in any recipe you need to whip up for groups big or small. My go to: frozen berries, tri-color carrots, kale, spinach, and broccoli
- Embrace the fermentation wave! Fermented veggies aren’t a new culinary trend! Humans have been fermenting foods since the Neolithic times. While I’m always happy to get my fermented fruit through wine, the new innovative fermented produce products are awesome to add to salad, dips, stir fry, and sandwich recipes. My go to: Farmhouse Culture Smoked Jalapeno Kruat, Ginger Beets, and Ginger Carrots
- Roast your Roots! While there is not a lot of “seasonal” produce in much of the US in winter, root veggies such as sliced: beets (golden, red, black), carrots, parsnips, potatoes (golden, purple, sweet), rutabagas, and turnips will roast up beautifully when you add a bit of olive oil and salt and cook for ~2-30 minutes at 350 degrees. They take on amazing new flavors, keep for up to a week in the refrigerator, and can be added to any dish or side.
Here is my go to colorful “Roast Your Roots” hash recipe
2 sweet potatoes
4-6 small purple potatoes
1 large carrot
1 large parsnip
3 tsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried basil
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or oregano (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Chop the potatoes, parsnips, carrots and peel and chop the beet. Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and spices and roast for 25-30 minutes, under crisp-tender.
- Serving options to place on top of the warm veggie hash: add fried egg, avocado, hummus, or burrata cheese
So let’s give a big holiday cheer for keeping colorful produce on the menu!
- You can also just roast them in bigger chunks like Cindi Sutter did in the photo above.