Tag Archives: onions

Roasting Vegetables

The Victor crew wanted to see what vegetables are best for roasting and how best to roast them. Here is what we found out.

The best vegetables to roast:
Just about anything!
Asparagus
Beets
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Butternut squash
Carrots
Cauliflower
Eggplant
Fennel
Green beans
Onions
Potatoes
Sweet peppers
Sweet potatoes
Turnips
Zucchini

How to roast:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut vegetables into equal pieces. Toss with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange in a single layer on parchment-lined or foil-lined baking sheet. Roast until a knife tip or fork easily pierces the vegetables with no resistance. The larger the cuts, the longer it will take to roast.

If you mix different vegetables on the same baking sheet, be aware some vegetables may cook quicker than others.

Steve Victor

The Lowly Onion

Something most likely all have in either our pantry or refrigerator is onions. Onions can come fresh, dried into flakes, dried and ground into powder on its own or with salt. So what about nutrition? Onions are about 44 calories for a medium 2-1/2″ bulb. There really isn’t much nutrition to them. That 44-calorie bulb has no fat, about 4mg sodium, 161mg potassium, 10g carbohytrates, 4.7g sugar and 1.2g protein. It contains 13% of your daily vitamin C. Onions were mentioned in the Old Testament in Numbers 11:5, so they’ve been around for quite a while.

There are different types of onions used a little differently. These are the most common you will see at your grocers:

Yellow – You might see yellow or brown onions most commonly. They are considered for everyday use and are the most familiar. They caramelize very well.
Red – Red onions are used when you want to add color to your dish. They can also be grilled.
White – These are traditionally used in Mexican dishes.

They should be stored at room temperature in a cool, dark, dry area. They last up to three or four weeks. Sweet onions can be stored in the refrigerator but they may draw some moisture from other produce. Use cut onions within a few days.

Onions, even though they have little nutrition, can add a lot of flavor to your diet without adding many calories.

Healthy Thanksgiving Cooking: The Sides

The main side for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner is mashed potatoes. There are ways to reduce the calories in this side dish. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor: Instead of using butter and milk or cream to mash your potatoes, reserve some of the cooking water. The starchy water will actually make your mashed potatoes creamier than if you use plain water as a substitute for milk or cream. If you prefer to use milk, try evaporated skim milk, fat-free milk, or fat-free sour cream. To boost the flavor of your mashed potatoes, you can add turkey or chicken broth or stir in some garlic and herbs.

Sweet potatoes are another Thanksgiving side dish staple. Rather than using maple syrup or brown sugar to liven them up, try spices such as ginger and cinnamon when making mashed sweet potatoes. Try roasting or baking raw sweet potatoes instead of using canned sweet potatoes, which are packed in sugar or corn syrup.

Vegetable casseroles are also traditional side dishes at Thanksgiving. Look for low calorie substitutes for your casserole recipes. Substitute ricotta cheese for cream cheese. Light butter or margarine for butter. Plain yogurt or fat-free sour cream for sour cream. Evaporated skim milk or low-fat milk for whole milk. Broth based soups for cream based soups. Use fresh vegetables (or frozen) as much as possible instead of canned vegetables, which are high in sodium and low in nutrients.

ROASTED SWEET POTATOES
4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
(You can precook sweet potatoes in microwave to decrease roasting time.)
2 medium onions cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking pan with olive oil cooking spray. Put potatoes and onions in baking dish and spray them lightly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and stir mixture every 15 minutes or so. Spray them a little every time you stir. Bake 35/45 minutes (if precooked) to 60/80 minutes (if raw) until tender. For variations, you can add cayenne pepper for heat or cinnamon for sweet or chopped rosemary for savory tastes.

FRESH GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
4 cups fresh green beans cut into 1 inch pieces
2 shallots or 8 green onions, sliced
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms (or any fresh mushroom), sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups + 2 tablespoons rice milk (or low-fat milk), divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
10 wonton wrappers
Bring water to a boil in a 2-quart saucepan. Place green beans in boiling water and cook until just soft (about 10 minutes). Drain and set aside. Heat large saucepan on medium heat. Spritz with cooking spray. Sauté shallots/green onions until translucent and starting to brown. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are soft and slightly browned. Use more cooking spray if necessary. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add 2 cups of the milk to the pan and bring to a boil. While milk is heating up, combine cornstarch and the 2 tablespoons of milk in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to boiling milk mixture. Whisk constantly until mixture is thickened. Reduce heat to simmer then remove from heat after 5 minutes. Cut wontons into thin strips. Spread strips evenly on a baking sheet. Season to taste, if desired. Bake for five minutes. Stir and bake until golden brown (another 2 to 3 minutes). Set aside to cool. Add green beans to milk mixture. Stir to coat evenly. Pour coated beans mixture into a greased casserole dish. Cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until beans are hot and bubbly. Remove from oven. Top with toasted wontons.

Thanks Jody

All the Best
Steve Victor

Healthy Thanksgiving Cooking: The Turkey

Its time to start planning your Thanksgiving Holiday Feast. There are some simple things you can do to make your traditional Thanksgiving dinner lower in fat and calories, starting with the turkey. I asked Jody Victor to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor: If you are cooking for a small gathering, buy a turkey breast (or two) instead of a whole bird. Breast meat is lower in calories than dark meat. If you buy a whole turkey, stay away from self-basting ones as they contain added fat. Roast or smoke your turkey instead of deep frying it. When eating the turkey, remove the skin (where most of the fat is contained).

Gravy has the highest calorie count of the Thanksgiving dishes. You can make low fat broth-based or vegetarian gravy instead of gravy from turkey drippings. If you do make your gravy from turkey drippings, use a gravy separator to skim off most of the fat before you thicken it.

Another way to cut calories is to make dressing, not stuffing. Stuffing absorbs fat from the turkey as it roasts. Bake your dressing instead in a casserole dish. Avoid dressing recipes that use sausage or bacon. If your recipe calls for eggs, substitute each whole egg with two egg whites to cut calories. Dressing made with wild rice and grains will give you more nutrition than plain bread dressing.

TURKEY ROASTED WITH FRESH HERBS
1 10-12 pound turkey
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs (EX: thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, marjoram)
20 whole sprigs of herbs
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups onion, apple, and lemon or orange, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 cups water (plus more if needed)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Remove giblets and wash turkey inside and out. Drain. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Mix minced herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place onion, apple, and orange/lemon pieces and half the sprigs in turkey cavity. Tuck wing tips under the turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Add 3 cups of water to the pan and add remaining sprigs to water. Roast the turkey until it is golden brown (about 45 minutes). Remove turkey from oven and make a two-ply cover for the breasts. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours more. Check roasting pan occasionally. If it dries out, tilt pan to let turkey juices out of cavity and add 1 cup of water. Turkey is done when thermometer registers 165 degrees. Transfer turkey to a platter and cover completely with foil. Let turkey rest and re-absorb juices for 20 minutes before carving.

Thanks Jody

All the Best!

Steve Victor

Summer Squash

Summer squash is a type of squash that is harvested when immature and the rind is still tender and edible. I asked Jody Victor®  to tell us more about it.

Jody Victor®: The name “summer squash” refers to its short storage life as opposed to the longer storage life of winter squash. Summer squashes include: cousa squash, patty pan/scallop squash, yellow crookneck squash, yellow summer squash, and zucchini. Summer squash can be harvested later in the season when the rind is tougher. You just have to prepare them more like a winter squash with longer cooking times.

To prepare summer squash, run it under water until the skin feels clean. Cut off and discard the ends. If the skin is tough or if the skin feels gritty after washing, peel it. Summer squash can be grated, sliced, or cut into desired pieces.

To steam summer squash, arrange the pieces in a strainer or rack over 1/2 inch of boiling water. Cover and steam just until barely tender. Drain well and toss with olive oil or your favorite sauce.

 To sauté summer squash, cook in butter or olive oil over medium-high heat until barely tender. Season with herbs of your choice, salt, and pepper. The healthiest way to sauté any vegetable is in 3 tablespoons of vegetable or chicken broth or even water. Heat liquid in a stainless steel skillet. Once bubbles begin to form add sliced squash, cover, and “healthy sauté” for 3 minutes (1 1/2 minutes on each side). Transfer to a bowl and toss with a Mediterranean dressing or any dressing of your choice.

STUFFED SUMMER SQUASH

3 medium summer squash

1 large onion, chopped

 3 tablespoons olive oil

 1/2 pound sausage

 3 cups fresh bread crumbs, divided in half

 1 cup Parmesan cheese, divided in half

 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

 4 tablespoons melted butter 

 Cook squash with 4 tablespoons water in microwave on high for 7 minutes. Cool. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil. Remove from pan. Saute sausage until brown. Put onion/garlic back in pan and mix with 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and parsley. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out leaving 1/2 inch shell. Drain scooped-out squash for a few minutes then add to sausage mixture. Put squash mixture in squash shells. Make a topping with melted butter, 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake in greased pan, covered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Uncover and bake for another 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serves 6.

SUMMER SQUASH VEGETABLE MEDLEY

2 pounds yellow summer squash and/or zucchini, sliced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

 2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges

1/2 onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped]

 Olive oil

5-6 slices jack or cheddar cheese

Basil, dry or chopped fresh

Salt and pepper

Saute squash, onion, garlic, and bell pepper in a large saucepan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the vegetables slightly. Sprinkle with basil and stir it in. Remove from heat and add slices of cheese. Cover. In a separate frying pan, sauté tomatoes on medium high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Juices from tomatoes should evaporate some. Add the tomatoes to the rest of the vegetables. Stir gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

SUMMER SQUASH WITH ROASTED GARLIC

 2 summer squash

1/4 cup olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of herbs of choice

 Salt and pepper to taste

 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut each squash lengthwise into quarters. Cut spears in half crosswise and in half again until you have 16 short spears. Toss squash in olive oil and garlic in a bowl. Place in shallow baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast squash until the spears and garlic begin to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Check squash after 5 minutes and add time in 2 to 3 minute intervals to avoid burning. Serves 4.

Thanks, Jody!

All the Best!

Steve Victor