by Chef Deborah Lieder
There is an air of silence that fills this time of year. The hustle and bustle of the holidays are over and we are tucked warmly away in our homes. It’s a time of contemplation, going within. And generally, because it’s the New Year, we have the opportunity to release what no longer serves us, and bring in the new. When we do this, we set the energy in motion to rediscover our power, our potential. The way we fuel our body to have that energy is through food.
Since Michigan winters are often cold and harsh, we crave those hearty, warming foods. They ground us, stabilizes us and we receive that extra layer of warmth our body needs. Root vegetables and winter squashes deliver that sustenance in a healthful way. Not only are they nutrient rich — containing vitamins A and C, magnesium, potassium, and dietary fiber — they are generally lower in calories, gentler on our digestive system, and help maintain healthy eyes and skin. They are great at replacing grains and wheat while still giving us that full feeling that comes from a complex carbohydrate.
Root vegetables and winter squashes contain antioxidants which help fight cancer, protect brain function and reduce inflammation within the body. The fiber contained within these vegetables is efficient enough to help lower our cholesterol and therefore contribute to heart health. It is always best to choose a colorful variety, from carrots and yams to beets, parsnips, butternut and acorn squash. And don’t knock the “lowly” potato. It contains about 20 percent of our daily potassium and magnesium, which is important for bone and nerve health.
When we release certain habits, the things that bind us, we move into this sense of freedom. And from there, lies the potential to create, create something that is more in alignment with ourselves. We don’t have to conquer the world in one day, especially when it comes to food, but we can give ourselves the gift of clean, healthy eating.
Root Vegetable Hash
4 ea. strips grass fed bacon (omit for vegetarian/vegan version)
2-4 T Olive Oil
1 ea. Onion, chopped
1/2 pound Carrots, diced
2 c. Mushrooms, sliced
2 ea. Parsnips, diced
2 ea. medium Sweet Potato, diced
2 c. Butternut Squash, diced
1/2 head of Cauliflower
2 ea. Apples, chopped
1 T. Rosemary, chopped
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°. On a sheet pan, place cauliflower and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, in large sauté pan or Dutch oven, render bacon. Remove, drain the fat into a container and set bacon aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of bacon fat (or olive oil if omitting bacon) in the sauté pan. Add mushrooms and sear for 2-3 minutes, or until the moisture is released. Add onion, carrot, parsnips, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and apples one at a time, sautéing a few minutes in between each addition. Allow to cook on the stove or put into the oven until the vegetables are cooked through. Toss in cauliflower and season with rosemary, salt, and pepper to taste. We don’t have to conquer the world in one day, especially when it comes to food, but we can give ourselves the gift of clean, healthy eating one meal at a time.