I think I have discovered the secret to life, and it is this: roasted vegetables.
Ever since the temperatures started dropping, I have been eating roasted vegetables all the time. Every day. Generally I eat them in salad, but it started out in a way that initially did not involve roasted vegetables at all.
I got the idea from this restaurant in Fort Collins called Garbanzo where we've occasionally picked up lunch or dinner. It’s the kind of place where you can “build” your own meal, in the form of a bowl, wrap, or pita. Well, I’ve become less and less fond of “wraps” over the years (generally too much wrap, not enough veggie), and their pitas contain milk, so I’ve always opted for the bowl. It kind of opened my eyes to what you can consider a “salad.” They scoop in different stuff according to what you choose. So I end up with hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli, shredded cabbage, falafel, turmeric rice, etc. It is not a lettuce based salad, which was kind of a new concept for me.
One day I found pre-made falafel at the grocery store, and I decided to recreate a Garbanzo bowl at home that was even more to my specifications: mixed greens, onion, pepper, avocado, sautéed mushrooms, falafel, Dayia cheese, and my signature spicy sriracha dressing. OMG, it was fantastic.
The idea continued to evolve on Tuesday nights, which have become designated as “Taco Tuesday” by William. The rest of the family likes to eat their tacos in shells, but I’m just not a huge fan of shells or tortillas these days. One Tuesday I decided to mix all my ingredients together in a bowl: salad greens, Boca crumbles, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, avocados, crushed tortilla chips leftover in the bottom of the bag (Rob calls these “Melissa Chips”), and, wait for it, spicy sriracha dressing. Divine.
It’s even better if you add Horsetooth Hotsauce and pair the dish with some kind of Fort Collins beer, served in a beer glass you won as an age group award in 30-mile trail run.
Experimenting with Taco Tuesday salads broke the ice, so to say, for adding roasted vegetables to salads. Now I add all kinds of roasted vegetables to my salad. Basically, if it is a vegetable, you can roast it, and you can eat it in a salad. My favorite by far is Brussels sprouts, but I’ve also become quite fond of roasted cauliflower and red cabbage. The red cabbage in particular looks kind of gross, but I promise, it tastes very good.
I’ve even occasionally used store-bought salad dressing.
My protocol for roasting vegetables is pretty simple. I chop or slice the vegetables into bite size pieces (for brussels sprouts, I cut off the ends, then cut them in half). Then I dump everything into a big mixing bowl and drizzle it with: olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder (this is a must), and turmeric (this is also a must). Supposedly turmeric has all these health benefits; I don’t know if the amount I’m eating in roasted vegetables is actually beneficial, but it tastes good, so it’s got that going for it.
After preparing the vegetables, I put them on a cookie sheet and then roast them for some amount of time—usually 15 to 20 minutes. If I think about it, I may stir them around about halfway through. I’ve found that roasting works at pretty much any temperature from 375 to 425, and cooking time varies accordingly.
On days when it is colder, or when you’ve run up and down Horsetooth Mountain and really need something to stick to your ribs, you can add a variety of other stuff to it too. This hearty salad has: mixed greens, lentils, edamame, roasted Brussel’s sprouts, roasted potatoes, and some variety of Annie’s dressing.
I feel like, unintentionally, eating roasted vegetables has drastically improved my diet. Not like I really thought my diet needed much improving in the first place, but adding these daily salads means that now I eat a ton more greens. The other thing about roasted vegetables is that they are just so satisfying, filling, and nutrient dense. I no longer get that intense hunger and need to snack in the afternoons that I’d become accustomed to as part of long distance running. Of course, that could be because this is sort of the “off season” right now, and I’m running less (heal tibia, heal) than I normally do. So we’ll see. But for now, I definitely feel fantastic about these roasted vegetable salads, and I’m pretty sure that I’ve stumbled upon the secret to life.
Thanks for reading.