A few weeks ago Origin was happy to take part in Victoria's 3rd annual Health Wellness & Sustainability Festival, and the feature speaker was the fascinating Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side. She has spent many years extensively researching food studies, and her book will tell you why food isn't what it used to be, and how to get maximum nutrition from your produce. I found her list of nutritious produce on this site.
And, here's one tip that may surprise you:
Carrots are more nutritious cooked than raw.
When cooked whole, they have 25 percent more falcarinol, a cancer-fighting
compound, than carrots that have been sectioned before cooking.
Easter is coming up, and my favourite part of holiday dinners has always been the side dishes. After hearing what Jo Robinson has to say, I'm interested in using her tips to hopefully get more nutrition out of these veggies too!
Aube Giroux, from Kitchen Vignettes, was also inspired by Jo's research and offers this recipe for Lentils with Roasted Beets and Carrots.
2 1/2 cups French lentils (also called Puy lentils)
About 1 dozen (1 large bunch) medium-small carrots, with their tops on
About 1 dozen (2 large bunches) medium-small beets
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (whatever you have on hand: basil, chives, or parsley)
1/2 cup chopped carrot tops
Grated zest of one organic lemon
1/2 cup feta cheese
For Eggless Aioli:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Fresh-squeezed juice of one large lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp. salt
Remove the leafy tops from the carrots and beets. Reserve the carrot tops. (Beet greens can also be kept as they are extremely nutritious and delicious). Wash and scrub the carrots and beets, removing any soil, leaving their skins on. Place the whole carrots and beets in a large French oven or enamelled iron pot and mix in the 2 tbsp. olive oil, fully coating the vegetables in oil.
In a 375 F oven, roast the vegetables for about 30 to 45 minutes, until tender when pierced with a fork. If you wish, once the beet are cool enough to handle, you can remove the skins from the beets by gently rubbing them off with your fingers.
Meanwhile, rinse the lentils and check them for small pebbles, then place them in a medium saucepan. Cover them with water and bring to a boil.
Simmer on medium heat, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes, until tender but not falling apart or turning mushy. (Add water if necessary through the cooking). Drain the lentils and place them in a large shallow serving bowl.
In a blender or food processor, puree the garlic, lemon juice, and salt to make the aioli. Add the olive oil and puree until thick and opaque and no chunks of garlic remain. Pour this mixture over the lentils. Add the chopped carrot tops, chopped herbs, and grated lemon zest and toss it all together. Season with a bit of salt and pepper if you wish.
Place the roasted carrots and beets on top, then crumble the feta all around. Serve warm or cold.
Yield: 6-8 servings