I am SO all about simple, easy foods that are nutritious and tasty. Healthful foods need to neither be time-consuming, nor bland. Far from it! This dish will take about an hour or so of baking time in the oven, so plan ahead for that. I will often throw something like this in the oven when I first wake up, and it will then be ready to throw in a container to take with me for lunch. The more you make of this, the more meals you will have prepped (this one is easy to warm up in the oven or stove-top to re-heat later) - DING DING - so it's a time-saver! In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), food IS medicine. As a matter of fact, I will typically counsel patients in dietary changes before prescribing herbal medicine, which is basically a step-up from food therapy. I encourage folks to eat with the seasons, so winter veggies are comprised of hearty plants capable of surviving the harsh climate. This brings to mind root veggies! Let me breakdown why this particular recipe is a powerhouse this time of year:
*Sweet potatoes - chock full of vitamins (B6, D, C) that can keep us healthy, free from illness and help fight off the winter "blahs". In TCM, sweet potatoes nourish the digestive system and can be especially helpful to those with gas and bloating.
*Beets + Leaves - don't forget to eat the leaves too! With beets, you usually love 'em or hate 'em. This is a veggie though that I would encourage you to give a second or even third chance if you haven't liked them in the past. I used to assume I hated them, but I assure you it was the preparation method. Beets are the super food poster child - full of potassium, magnesium, folic acid, iron, and so much more. In TCM, beets are deep red - mimicking the ideal color of blood - which is the yin - or nourishing aspects of the body. The function of blood in TCM and Western physiology somewhat overlap: it carries nutrients and takes away waste, but in TCM it is also responsible for clear-thinking, proper healing, and good sleep. Adding the leaves gives you a mega-dose of potassium - even more so than bananas. Perhaps you've heard of eating a banana for muscle cramps? That's due to their potassium concentration, which plays a roll in decreasing muscle spasm. These would be great for anyone who especially experiences calf or foot spasms at night.
*Cauliflower - this highly versatile cruciferous vegetable is high in vitamin C, which will help ward off viruses during the winter months. Because of its rather mild flavor, it can adapt to any seasonings you may add. In TCM theory, because of its white, brain-like appearance, it benefits the brain and thinking. I don't know about you, but I can use all the help I can get in that department! Also, because of its white color, cauliflower supports lung and respiratory function, which can often be challenged during the winter. How common is the common cold this type of year? More cauliflower please!!!
*Coconut oil & himalayan salt - these are the only two condiments I use in this dish. Coconut oil is a heart-healthy cooking oil that can reduce system inflammation - and it adds TONS of flavor to this recipe! Himalayan salt is generally pink in color and is very minimally processed. Due to minimal processing, it has not been chlorinated, and it is still rich in iron and other trace minerals and does not contain anti-caking additives.
How to prep this dish:
1.) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees (bake).
2.) Wash and scrub sweet potatoes, beets and cauliflower. You will want to remove the stems from the beets, but save the leafy, green, tops! I leave the peel on sweet potatoes and beets, but you can choose to peel them if you prefer.
3.) Slice the sweet potatoes and beets into thin wafers. Cauliflower can be chopped into bite-sized pieces. Note that your chopping skills don't need to be perfect - just get 'em chopped up!
4.) Place sweet potatoes, beets and cauliflower in a baking pan (I use a cast-iron skillet - what a workhorse!). Give the mixture a good fluff or two to encourage intermingling of flavors. Top with a few tablespoons of coconut oil.
5.) Bake in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half - this will really vary on your oven and preference for "done-ness" of your veggies. Stir the mixture every 20 minutes or so to spread the coconut oil and encourage thorough cooking. About 10-15 minutes before finished, remove from the oven and mix in the beet leaves (chop them into bite-size pieces first). Return to the oven for 10-15 mins. If you prefer crispy veggies, you can broil the mixture for the last 10 minutes or so. If you are not familiar with broiling, watch VERY CLOSELY as broiling intensity varies and you can burn your food easily.
6.) Remove from oven, allow to cool and top with himalayan salt. If you are not familiar with himalayan salt, a little goes a long way - it gives a POP to your food and you don't need much.
Buen Provecho! Enjoy! - Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist at Bluegrass Acupuncture & Herbal Medicine in Lexington, Kentucky.
About the Author:
Holly Christiansen, Licensed Acupuncturist, currently practicing in the gorgeous, horse capital of the world: Lexington, Kentucky.