Hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgivings! Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays, but it’s not so kind to our waistlines. In fact, according the Calorie Control Council, the average turkey dinner (plus appetizers) clocks in around 4,500 calories — yowza!
Well, the good news is that you can have your fall-themed foods and eat them too. With greens like kale and Swiss chard in season, along with other Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, to name a few) and potatoes galore, fall vegetables can pack a major nutrition punch and can help you get back on track. Who says the holidays have to be entirely gluttonous? Enter, purple vegetables.
I’ve been reading Jo Robinson’s book, Eating on the Wild Side: the Missing Link to Optimum Health, wherein she discusses the history of our favorite fruits and vegetables along with the most nutritious varieties found in stores/farmers markets and the best nutrient-sparing ways to prepare them. Through her book, I’ve learned that many of our favorite vegetables started out purple — corn, potatoes, carrots and many others. Most purple vegetables get their color from anthocyanins, a type of polyphenol (antioxidant), that may aid in cancer prevention and improve heart health, among other benefits. Thus, the original [purple] varieties of vegetables were often more nutritious.
It’s safe to say that since reading the book, I’ve been searching for purple or other “odd”- colored vegetables — orange cauliflower, purple kale and of course, purple potatoes. So you can imagine my excitement when I came across purple sweet potatoes at Whole Foods (seriously, it was embarrassing — people were staring). But check these things out (!):
Purple potatoes are the most gorgeous, jewel-tone shade of purple. While the USDA does not provide nutrition information for this variety, according to Stokes Foods, purple sweet potatoes contain 4 grams fiber per 4 oz (medium-size potato), along with 2 g protein and 20 percent daily value of vitamin C (making them an excellent source of the vitamin). They are so delicious, with a creamy, dense texture, that all you really need to do with them is bake them, add a little grass-fed butter or coconut oil and sprinkle with cinnamon. They would also be wonderful roasted with other vegetables such as cauliflower and carrots, with fresh rosemary.
Another, more common purple vegetable to which I’ve taken a fancy is purple (technically red, but it looks purple to me) cabbage. Purple cabbage is — you guessed it — a source of anthocyanins. It also provides vitamins A, C and K, fiber and potassium, all for minimal calories (less than 25 calories for a cup of shredded red cabbage). Nutritionally, it’s a star. However, many people are turned off by it’s bitterness. So, when preparing cabbage, you may need to give it a little extra lovin.
While raw purple cabbage is delicious when shredded and used in an Asian-style slaw recipe, I prefer cooked cabbage during the colder months. I have a Portuguese friend, Joana, who makes the most delicious purple cabbage by sauteeing it in olive oil with salt, pepper and onions (until it’s soft). While I love this method and use it all the time, I wanted to try something new. Since my answer for how to make vegetables crave-worthy is generally, “roast them,” this seemed like the perfect fit for cabbage.
I washed the purple cabbage and cut it into wedges, drizzled with olive oil and roasted it at 375 for about one hour. Then I cracked fresh pepper over the top, along with Himalayan sea salt. It was ridiculously good. Nicely charred on top and bottom, but warm and soft on the inside. The best part was the bottom leaves, which had essentially been oven-fried in the olive oil that had coated the bottom of the pan. Naturally, I ate them all immediately. Look at that crunchy goodness!
Have you discovered any purple vegetables? Let me know your favorite varieties and preparations in the comment section.