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Hi, health-conscious Chowhounds -- best seasonal vegetable recipes, please!

Ah, to be a Chowhound on a diet. Far from being miserable about the food I'm actually eating, just dismayed at the small quantities I have to consume to keep myself in weight loss mode.

Vegetable-based dishes are a great respite from the tiny portions of everything else, and I would love some low calorie suggestions to add to my Fall/Winter repertoire.

I'm not vegetarian, just vegetable-loving.

An example of the sort of thing I'm looking for -- last night, I made Celery Victor (recipe on epicurious). Also been experimenting with cabbage slaws, and I made a killer shredded brussels sprout saute the other day with garlic, olive oil, and pepper flakes.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, it's awfully basic, but I've been on a low-fat kick lately as well and find myself really missing the butter and cream that makes mashed potatoes so so good. I've started mashing in a few carrots and the sweetness from those makes the mashed VERY tasty. It's something I'm going to start playing around with...other root vegetables and such.
    The SuperSlaw on epicurious has recieved good review here, but I wouldn't call it health conscious.

    12 Replies
    1. re: CeeBee

      Yeah, I'd say the 6 T. vegetable oil and 5 T. peanut butter put that recipe in higher calorie territory than I'm looking for.

      1. re: CeeBee

        As far as making mashed tasty, boiling in veggie broth, chicken broth, or skim milk also ups the tasty quotient...

        1. re: galleygirl

          "skim milk also ups the tasty quotient..."
          as does low-fat buttermilk or evaporated fat free milk. my favorite substitute for traditional mashed is roasted, mashed cauliflower with roasted garlic, salt & pepper. oh, and speaking of cauliflower, i adore it with curry spices.

          spaghetti squash with tomato sauce & a little fresh parm-reg or pecorino. it's a great low-cal substitute for pasta.

          if you want to do something new with your greens, try Catalonian spinach [works great with chard as well]. there are tons of variations on the web - i like to use currants or dried cranberries instead of raisins because i'm not a huge raisin fan..and i find that a splash of sherry vinegar really brightens the dish.

          broccoli rabe with red chile flakes is another favorite.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I'd like to second this recommendation of Catalan-style greens--I've made it with both spinach and chard, using currants and adding some toasted pine nuts (enough for good flavor, but not so much as to become a calorie bomb).

            I also like steamed cauliflower with a balsamic vinaigrette, tossed together while the cauliflower is still warm.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              I looked up Catalan Spinach on epicurious, and that sounds great! I'd never have thought to combine raisins, garlic, and pinenuts, and we have all of those on hand. As soon as some spinach or chard crosses my path I'll try it out, perhaps halving the amount of pine nuts, and subbing most the olive oil with chicken broth.

              1. re: operagirl

                let us know how it turns out...and i highly recommend a splash of sherry vinegar if you have it on hand. something about the flavor of that particular acid works so well in these dishes.

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  I made two versions of Catalan-style greens this week (once on Sunday with my parents, and again last night for my boyfriend and I), and both were great! In one I used mustard greens and purple cabbage, the other erbette chard. I just mellowed the chopped garlic in chicken broth and a small amount of olive oil, then added the rest of the ingredients and let it all steam down. Yum.

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                In that vein, we love this Spanish spinach-chick pea dish from Food and Wine. The saffron and paprika add good, subtle Mediterranean taste.

                Dried cranberries in place of the raisins would add great flavor.


                1. re: bear

                  i love that recipe! i sub smoked paprika for 1/2 the sweet, chopped dried apricots for the raisins...and of course i spike it with some sherry vinegar at the end.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Just saw this post, ghg. Thanks for the suggestions. I just bought some Penzey's smoked paprika, and usually have some dried Trader Joe's California apricots around. That would add another nutritional boost. I also add a splash of acid at the end, maybe red wine vinegar or lemon, but sherry vinegar would be perfect with the Spanish flavors. I'll have to pick some up.

            2. re: CeeBee

              Parsnips! parsnips add such nice sweetness to a mash.

              1. re: versificatrix

                A mix of half sweet potatoes, half regular potatoes also is really tasty!

            3. In fall/winter we do roasted veggies almost every night. I've found that you only need a bit of olive oil (1-2 tsp) to get the roasting going. I do squashes, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions, even green beans. Just toss the veggies in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and a dash of sugar, and put on a heavy, pre-heated baking sheet. Roast at 425 until veggies are tender and carmelized.

              I also love to combine the fall vegetables with apples and pears. I made homemade, sugar-free applesauce and use it to fill pie pumpkins or squash, then bake them. Another favorite around my house is a savory stuffed squash. I saute chopped onions, apples, celery, and red cabbage (or anything else that sounds good to you) with a little sage and deglaze the pan with a bit of apple cider. Let reduce a bit, and fill the hollows of butternut or acorn squash and bake. Delicious.

              2 Replies
              1. re: RosemaryHoney

                Ditto on the roasted vegies - my latest was sugar snap peas - yum!!! Also take the leftovers (I love to make toooo much) and make a nice quesadilla with lite cheese and low cal wrap/flat bread. It's pretty filling.

                1. re: RosemaryHoney

                  I am also a big fan of roasted veggies, particularly carrots, squash, and cauliflower. I love tossing carrots with fresh sage leaves too. The sage gets crispy in the oven, kind of like fried sage (plugging my blog here: http://www.seasonal-eats.com/2008/10/... :


                  I also like to put shredded, sauteed greens (such as kale) in everything, from pasta to fried rice.

                  Soups and stews/chili are also great, because you can load them up with veggies and round them out with some beans and/or meat.

                2. Roasted vegetables always make me feel fall - even though eggplant isn't necessarily in season, I love Imam Bialydi

                  The veggie pot pie is a classic - I bet you could substitute out the heavy cream in this one:

                  and soups are always a great low-cal option

                  1. 16 bean soup is very filling and I add mega vegies to allow us to eat more. We're doing WW so I'm always playing with recipes to provide my creative outlet but the challenge of keeping it low. Another great & filling recently was eggplant parm towers (found a very low cal spaghetti sauce from Harry and Davids) and I shredd a couple Lite Baby Bells. Polenta rounds are good too to accompany roasted vegies.

                    I'm also a salad freak, coleslaws too. I've posted several and many others have chimed in with great cabbage recipes:

                    A nice jambalaya with mostly vegies would work too.

                    I love to saute up vegies (broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflour, etc) in Braggs Liq Amino and put over a nice brown rice, with little cheese on top.

                    There are also some great threads on WW recipes. Just do a search.

                    A great vegitarian chili is next on my list to make.

                    1. spaghetti squash with sausage filling...my new favorite. I use chicken sausage:

                      1. A couple of ideas, happy to provide recipes or links on further request:

                        roasted eggplant soup
                        baked spinach and eggs
                        any sort of pureed soup, sweet potato or carrot are my favorites - the base of olive oil and butter can be changed depending on your requirements
                        I second the idea of roasted vegetables
                        curries can be chocked full of vegetables - just substitute strained plain yogurt in for the coconut milk and go crazy with spices
                        lentil stews

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gini

                          Pan seared cauliflower, topped with homemade curried honey mustard, chopped cashews, and parsley

                          1. re: starbucksbrew

                            I'm on board with the roasted vegetables except broccoli which I like to steam and then saute with some minced garlic and pepper flakes. Acorn squash is good roasted (cut side down) and then baked (cut side up) with a dab of butter and some maple syrup, salt and pepper. Adding a little Garam Masala is nice, too.

                        2. Roasted beets are delicious. I peel them, cut into sticks or chunks, and roast with some olive oil, salt, and pepper until they are soft.

                          I also like raw shredded beets with a strong dressing of lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Sometimes I add shredded carrots and chopped scallions.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: cheesecake17

                            Raw beets with dressing sounds good! I've gotten beets in my csa box for a few weeks in a row now, and I'm getting really sick of them roasted and spiced in various ways.

                            They must make a heck of a mess when you grate them though -- are you using a box grater or a food processor or something else?

                            1. re: operagirl

                              I use a food processor, but I grate a couple of pounds of beets at a time. I leave them in the fridge in a large ziplock and use them throughout the week.

                              There's a recipe on nytimes.com for a beet rosti that I want to try. It looks like a beet pancake type thing. Mark Bittman wrote the recipe, and he has something similar with potatoes in his cookbook.

                              I added them to soba noodles with a peanut sauce last week and they tasted great. They also turned the whole dish an awesome shade of pink. Be careful though, and don't get a light colored manicure the week you do anything with beets!

                              Have you been getting the striped beets or the fancy yellow ones?

                          2. There's a cabbage, cabbage, cabbage thread out there with some great ideas. I like any kind of cabbage or mixed vegetable dish with lots of garlic, fish sauce and lime juice or rice vinegar and sriracha. But in the cooler weather you might prefer to go with sauteed cabbage dressed up a bit like pad thai.

                            Also one of the most edible "lite" products is light coconut milk. Use it to make laksa with chicken broth, your favorite vegetables, and curry paste.

                            Cauliflower makes a good curry of any stripe. It feels substantial and takes on all the flavours nicely.

                            I also make stir fries and double the broth and skip the rice if the weekend has been especially "big."

                            Green beans steamed till they stop squeaking and then dumped into a vinagrette while they're still hot. Use lots of mustard and garlic in the vinagrette and skip most of the oil.

                            Now I'd better take all this advice to recover from the Halloween candy overload or those 30 lbs are going to come running back on...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: waver

                              You've lost 30 pounds? Congratulations! 9 down, 11 to go over here . . . and eating low fat veggies is helping a ton!

                            2. I"m a big fan of steamed veggies myself, as well as roasted (did a lovely blend today of eggplant, brussel sprouts, green beans, and shallots).

                              Cauliflower Mashed is great sub for potatoes, but that's kind of an obvious one...

                              My friend passed along this soup recipe

                              Cauliflower soup
                              Serves 4
                              · 2 tbsp olive oil
                              · 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
                              · 2 onions, peeled and chopped
                              · 3 leeks, washed trimmed and sliced
                              · half a celeriac, scrubbed trimmed and chopped
                              · 1 cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets
                              · 1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
                              · 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
                              Heat the oil in a large saucepan or flameproof casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of water over a low heat. Add the garlic, onions, leeks and celeriac and cook very gently for 20 minutes until softened, stirring occasionally.
                              Add the cauliflower florets, 1 litre of cold water and the cumin. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a knife.
                              Leave to cool for 5 minutes then blend in a food processor or with a hand-held blender until smooth. Return to the pan and reheat gently. If necessary add more water (or vegetable stock).
                              Serve in warmed bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

                              I also like to do a soup from miso broth with wild mushrooms (shiitake, portabellos, creminis, oysters) and greens (mustard, kale, bok choy, collars), and some asparagus and garlic... let simmer and enjoy.

                              "Souffle" made from either cooked broccoli or cooked spinach, blended with some Lipton's onion soup mix, egg whites, a dollop or two of fat free ricotta, fat free sour cream, then baked off in a Pam-sprayed casserole dish.

                              Grilled veggies tossed with shiritaki noodles - sliced eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, etc sprinkled with garlic salt or other seasoning, then grilled and chopped; toss in a skillet with some rinsed shirataki noodles and add in whatever strikes your fancy (amino acids, lemon juice, herbs, etc)

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Emme

                                Ah, shiritaki noodles. I really need to learn how to cook those in a palatable way, or just keep on using spaghetti squash -- after a first failed shiritaki attempt a couple years ago, I've gone gunshy.

                                1. re: operagirl

                                  what was it about the shirataki that turned you off? was it the taste, texture, or both?

                                  i only use the ones that are straight yam/konjac flour because i can't eat soy, so i don't know if this will hold true for all types, but i've discovered that you shouldn't really "cook" them because they get too rubbery [even more than they already are]...so be sure not to keep them on the heat [or in the microwave] too long.

                                  as far as the taste, rinse them VERY well before using, because that calcium hydroxide they're packed in really does stink, and as we all know, aroma is a huge part of flavor. and be sure to drain them well too, because they hold a lot of moisture. after i rinse & drain them in a mesh sieve, i always transfer them to a paper towel or lint-free kitchen towel and wring them out before tossing with other ingredients - you wouldn't believe how much extra water comes out! if you don't get it out first, it will just turn your dish into a water-logged mess.

                                  hope that helps...

                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                    Those are great hints. Rinse well, drain, squeeze dry, toss with sauce without cooking. Today, I bought the kind that're part soy, and I'll try to use them for dinner. What's your most fail-safe shiritaki recipe?

                                    1. re: operagirl

                                      i don't necessarily have just one go-to recipe...i use them whenever i want pasta, which i can't have. but these are some of my quick & easy favorites:

                                      - spicy chili-garlic shrimp stir-fry with asian veggies
                                      - sweet & spicy tomato-based curry with tamarind, shrimp & veggies
                                      - cubed chicken breast or sardines, tomato sauce, veggies, balsamic vinegar, capers & fresh herbs, topped with freshly grated cheese
                                      - cubed chicken, veggies, & a low fat creamy cheese sauce [pseudo Alfredo]

                                      i even do a sweet variation, sort of a faux skillet noodle kugel with cottage cheese, cinnamon, vanilla, and a little agave nectar or stevia...topped with toasted almonds.

                                      regardless of the recipe, i cook everything else to the desired degree of doneness, and just toss the noodles into the skillet or dish for the last 30-60 seconds to heat through & coat with sauce/seasonings. yo may need to cook your noodles a few seconds longer than i do, because i think the tofu ones are a little denser/heartier.

                              2. I love this Butternut Squash & Red Pepper Casserole from Epicurious (http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...). It's easily adaptable to the quantity of squash that I happen to have on hand and I just use enough olive oil to coat everything. I always try to use a pan that's not too deep and usually roast it longer than the recipe suggests to make sure that the squash and peppers are nicely carmelized. It's a yummy, healthy fall/winter side dish. I also really like Jane Brody's Black Beans with Turkey and Rice (from Good Food Gourmet) - I use any kind of cooked beans that I happen to have already in the freezer and add more chile powder.

                                1. This is my latest discovery and it's fabulous and so easy. I reduced the brown sugar to less than 1/4 cup and the butter to 1 tablespoon and it was still sweet, syrupy and caramelized. Next time I intend to eliminate the butter all together. Honestly, it tastes like a dessert!


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: tweetie

                                    That looks great! In the spirit of using what I've already got, I could sub delicata squash for the butternut, and raisins for the cranberries. Mm.

                                  2. One tip for any kind of roasted veggie dish is to toast whole spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, etc. until fragrant and darkened a shade, then grind with a mortar and pestle. It makes a HUGE difference in flavor when you're cutting back on the oil. Toss the cut veggies with the spices and a teaspoon or two of oil plus a little salt and pepper before roasting. These are even better leftover. A little grated parmesan or pecorino also goes a long way with veggies. Remember that you will want some fat with your veggies in order to metabolize the fat soluble vitamins in them. So, don't feel any guilt about adding fat, just be judicious. The right fats won't add to girth, but rather help with weight loss long term.

                                    12 Replies
                                    1. re: amyzan

                                      Amyzan: re. "Remember that you will want some fat with your veggies in order to metabolize the fat soluble vitamins in them. So, don't feel any guilt about adding fat, just be judicious. The right fats won't add to girth, but rather help with weight loss long term"

                                      sorry just had to correct this, you don't need to eat fat to digest fat soluble vitamins, you just need to eat them with food (if it is a supplement), otherwise just don't over cook them. We lose a lot of our vitamins by over cooking vegetables, Vitamin C especially is not stable at high temps.

                                      1. re: cleopatra999

                                        actually, amyzan was correct, fat IS required for proper intestinal absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins [Vitamins A, D, E & K], and it's also necessary for the absorption of carotenoids [including beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein & zeaxanthin]. however, that doesn't mean that you need to douse your greens in an oil bath to derive the greatest benefit...a little healthy fat goes a long way. a teaspoon of good-quality oil, a couple of slices of avocado, or a tablespoon of sunflower seeds or nuts is really all you need.

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          hmmmm...that is not what I have learned in my nutrition courses that I am taking. I know you need good fats in your diet, however it does not need to be at the same time. I will have to go back to my instructor with this one.

                                          does that mean that if I eat raw carrots on their own I don't get the vit A out of them?? that seems odd to me. I will look into this further.

                                          1. re: cleopatra999

                                            it can be a confusing topic, i'll try to explain it as clearly as i can.

                                            there's a reason they're called FAT-soluble vitamins...the body requires fat to metabolize and absorb them. however, it doesn't mean you MUST eat fat at the same time to absorb the nutrients, you just need sufficient lipids in your system to facilitate the process when your body is ready to break them down and absorb them. unless you're on an incredibly strict diet that's practically devoid of any fat, or suffer from fat malabsorption due to a specific health condition, chances are good that your cumulative dietary intake of fat is sufficient for absorbing at least some of the fat-soluble nutrients in your veggies. but consuming them with some healthy fat will assist in immediate absorption for optimal nutritional benefit. if the fats aren't readily available, your body will store the vitamins in your liver and adipose tissue and mobilize them for use later.

                                            so to summarize:
                                            - your body DOES require fat to break down fat-soluble vitamins.
                                            - it's not essential that you consume fat at the exact same time as foods or supplements that contain fat-soluble vitamins in order to [eventually] absorb the nutrients from them.
                                            - eating fat along with foods or supplements that contain fat-soluble vitamins will enhance absorption.

                                            i hope it makes more sense now.

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              that is pretty much what my instructor said when I asked her.

                                              1. re: cleopatra999

                                                we nutrition professionals may not agree on everything, but when it comes to basic biochemical and metabolic principles, we're pretty consistent :)

                                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Thank you, that was a very clear and informative answer!

                                                1. re: yamalam

                                                  my pleasure! and thanks for posting the link to the acorn squash recipe below...sounds fantastic, i need to try it.

                                                2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Thanks for clarifying for me, GHG. It's been twenty years since I took that nutrition course in college, so clearly I've lost a little er, detail, in that time. I appreciate it!

                                                  1. re: amyzan

                                                    always happy to help. not that you really needed it, your comment was accurate.

                                                    see, eating fat with your veggies has benefited you over the years...all those EFA's and antioxidants are clearly staving off mental decline ;)

                                                3. re: cleopatra999

                                                  cleo: I believe raw carrots' nutrients are best made available when slighly cooked as in steamed, to break down the heavy cellulose in the cell walls, unless juiced. from Adele Davis IIR. --ghg?

                                                  1. re: toodie jane

                                                    yep, the carotenoids in lightly cooked carrots are more bioavailable - hence, more readily absorbed - than in raw carrots. the same thing holds true for the lycopene in tomatoes.

                                          2. I agree with the roasted veggie suggestions. Almost everything is good roasted, esp. brussel sprouts and cauliflower.

                                            Another good one is chayote if that's still in season where you are. I like this simple recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                            You can cut back on the butter, of course. Use an olive oil misto to sautee and some broth while cooking to let the veggies soften, but add a little bit of butter over top after cooking for flavor. Chayote is very much enhanced by butter.

                                            I make a puree / mash of just parnips boiled in broth, with no potatoes. The slight bitterness / sweetness is vibrant and bracing.

                                            this recipe for sauteed leeks and carrots is a nice combo of flavors: http://www.recipezaar.com/Sauteed-Lee.... plain sauteed leeks with onion, leeks with apple, and leeks with fennel or mushroom are good, too. all of these go well over a lean piece of chicken or pork medallion.

                                            and finally, how about leek and potato soup?(can you tell i really like leeks?)

                                              1. re: fallingup

                                                with your goal being weight loss your instincts leading you to cabbage slaws is great! add a raw veggie dish to every meal (salads & slaws galore!) I know they are not all really seasonal, however they take longer to chew which stimulates both the enzymes in the mouth needed to break the carbs down, and also allows the brain to catch up with the eating. that is it will register you being full faster which of course feels better and won't lead to over eating.

                                                Look for dark greens to add to your slaws, like shredded kale & chard.

                                                1. re: fallingup

                                                  Yes, those all look delicious. I just bought some garam masala, cumin, and ground chipotle pepper, and I do enjoy Indian spicing. Thanks very much!

                                                2. Ditto on the roasted vegetables love, I've been dressing my squash with a lime juice-garlic-jalepeno-cilantro-rice vinegar-sesame oil vinaigrette to switch up the usual thyme-sage flavor profiles. Started with this epicurious recipe and kept evolving from there. The sweetness contrasts well with the tart spiciness, and the freshness of the cilantro(use a lot!) contrasts with the roastedness well too.


                                                  1. They say that spices and veggies with capsicum in them will raise your metabolic rate by up to 50% for up to 3 hours. So, you can use cayenne in this recipe if you want.

                                                    Creamed Spinach (Lite recipe)

                                                    Fresh spinach (3 cups loose? )
                                                    chicken broth (?? enough - you'll know - 1/2 cup or more)
                                                    low-fat cream cheese (2 Tbsp)
                                                    Wondra gravy flour (to thicken - 1 tsp???))
                                                    Bell'Aroma salt seasoning (Spice Hunter) (can add cayenne if you like that flavor)
                                                    Fresh ground black pepper.

                                                    A comfort in cool weather. Excellent nutrients.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: kc girl

                                                      I just want to say ... I wish we could start a separate healthy cooking board on here :)

                                                      1. re: sourcherry

                                                        That would be great -- "healthy" is so subjective though! I imagine it could get pretty complicated.

                                                    2. Celery Victor appeals to the weight conscious Anchovy lover too.

                                                      Thank You Chef Hirtzler