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Cooking in Color

by Leslie Bayers, Thu, Oct 5th, 2017

Our local farmers market is filled with things that tickle every sense. Strolling under a canopy of mature trees where live musicians are playing lively songs, you breathe in the aroma of fresh baked bread and brewed coffee, and visually take in every color imaginable of vegetables and cut flowers. I’ve come a long way from the kid who didn’t want to eat meat but the only “vegetables” that would pass my lips were French fries and corn on the cob. Now I like to purchase produce that I’ve never heard of before and learn how best to cook it. The newest experiment was with Asian eggplant-- long, elegant and a gorgeous vibrant light purple. I asked the farmer herself how she would prepare it and apparently the secret to this vegetable is soaking it in salt water before cooking in order to remove any bitterness. When people say they do not like vegetables I contend that perhaps they just need to get to know them better. How to peel and cut them, how long to cook them and what seasonings go best are what you need to know in order to transform the mushy tasteless nemesis from your childhood into your new favorite treat. (I personally have converted several former Brussel sprout haters.)

The first bite of any meal is with your eyes. Admittedly, occasionally throughout the years I’ve created meals that only could’ve been called “Ode to Beige,” but they were normally a result of my young children’s palates. Typically speaking you want your plate to be colorful and full of texture. Meals that are as beautiful to look at as they are delicious it turns out are also more nutritious. Do a web search using “color of vegetables and nutrients” and you will have enough reading material to last a while. Watch a few episodes of “Chopped” and before long you will be self-critiquing your entrees...should I garnish this with roasted peanuts for a little crunch? A little balsamic drizzle or squeeze of lemon for that pop of acid? Fresh herbs--always!  

Cooking nutritious delicious meals can be intimidating but it just takes getting familiar with ingredients and the willingness to experiment. When many people think of eating healthfully, they think of what they must cut out and start to feel deprived. Focusing on all the wonderful new things you can add to your current diet and enjoy the abundance of foods available to you will leave you feeling the opposite of deprived. While half the fun is mixing and matching your own farmer’s market finds, I’m sharing with you one of my favorite recipes.

Sweet Potato Stew with Swiss Chard

Source:  Delicious TV

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 red thai or jalapeno pepper, minced with seeds (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk, full fat
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, about 4 cups loose
  • ¼ cup cilantro for garnish
  • 1 squeeze lime for garnish

Directions

In a large saucepan warm the oil over medium heat, add the onion and a bit of salt to sweat the onions. Cook while stirring for about 4 minutes.

Add the sweet potato, garlic, pepper, ginger, spices and sauté for a minutes or two. Add 2 cups of water, the coconut milk and a bit of salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes, covered.

Add the chard, and continue cooking for about 8-10 minutes until the chard is tender. Thin with water if necessary. Put into dishes and serve over rice, quinoa or your favorite grain. Top with cilantro and lime.

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