Go beyond peas and carrots: Experiment with cauliflower and greens, Eagle County | SummitDaily.com

Go beyond peas and carrots: Experiment with cauliflower and greens, Eagle County

Rosanna Turner
Daily Correspondent
Break out of your "peas and carrots" habit and experiement with vegetables you might not cook with regularly, like cauliflower, shown here, or kohlrabi.
Special to the Weekly | iStockphoto

Sauteed cauliflower with yellow curry butter

David Walford, executive chef and owner of Splendido at the Chateau, said his yellow curry butter, in his cookbook “Woodfire and Champagne Powder,” is typically used for his cauliflower soup recipe but can also be used with sautéed cauliflower as a vegetable side dish.

Ingredients for yellow curry butter:

1 pound unsalted butter, softened

5 cloves garlic, chopped

5 tablespoons grated ginger

1 tablespoon chili paste

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons turmeric

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend well. Set aside.

Sautéed cauliflower:

Saute cauliflower florets in plain butter over low heat, then roast in oven at 400-degrees Fahrenheit. Toss in some curry butter and serve.


Massaged kale salad

West Vail resident Pamela Saden loves this salad and even grows kale on her deck. “Massaging the kale will break down the fibers, making the nutrients much more available,” Saden said.

Ingredients (all as needed):

Olive oil

lemon juice

salt (Himalayan or Celtic)


kale (twice as much as you want, because it will reduce considerably)

Destalk the kale and tear the larger pieces into smaller sizes.  In a large bowl, drizzle olive oil and salt on the kale leaves and massage with your hands until they are tenderized (for about 10 minutes). After massaging, add lemon juice and mix. Add more olive oil if needed. The leaves will turn a dark glossy green. Let it sit for a few hours to break down and become soft. When ready to eat, squish the avocado with your hands into the kale. You can also add onions, nuts, seeds, diced red bell pepper or raisins. Adjust the salt, lemon juice and olive oil to your preference.


Greens and apple smoothie

Recipe courtesy of nutritionist and health coach Michele Keane-Duncan

Makes two 12-ounce servings

2 medium Collard or Kale leaves

1 medium apple, cored and cut into big chunks

1/2 banana

1 cup vanilla non-dairy milk

1 to 2 Tablespoons chia seeds

2 teaspoons agave (optional)

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth,

We’ve all been told to eat our vegetables. But not all vegetables are alike, and some are better for you than others. Many leafy green vegetables rank high in nutrient density, which basically means eating them gets you the most bang for your buck health-wise. While most people understand the difference between fat, carbohydrates and protein, the concept of nutrient density is relatively new.

“You eat food because it tastes good but also for the nutrient value,” said Michele Keane-Duncan, a nutritional chef and health coach living in Gypsum. “Nutrient density is basically asking, ‘What is the most nutrients I can get for my calories?’”

For example, a 100-calorie serving of bok choy contains about 775 milligrams of calcium. A 100-calorie serving of milk (1 percent fat) contains roughly 300 milligrams of calcium. In order to get your recommended daily amount (for most adults) of 1,000 milligrams calcium, you’d have to consume more than twice the number of calories by drinking milk than eating bok choy.

“We all think milk is our best source of calcium,” Keane-Duncan said. “When you actually look at the nutritional science, why would (we) think that? That’s why I try to concentrate more on greens because I can get a lot more benefits for the calories.”

“Vegetables are just sitting there waiting to be eaten, wondering why we don’t eat them more often.”
David Walford
executive chef and owner of Splendido at the Chateau

Anytime the word “low calorie” is muttered, one can be sure there’s a new food craze to follow. Lately, leafy greens have taken the stage, with many going krazy for kale, bananas for bok choy, ecstatic for spinach and cuckoo for collards. Keane-Duncan said what’s great about leafy greens is it’s nearly impossible to overdo it.

“You can never eat too many greens,” Keane-Duncan said. “They’re so easily digestible, (that you) should eat as much as you can. Eat them at every meal and add them to everything.”

Getting your greens in

If you want to increase your greens intake, there are a variety of ways to eat them beyond snarfing down a salad at every meal. Keane-Duncan said a simple trick to get more greens is to add spinach, kale or even collards to a smoothie. In the morning she likes to make what she calls a “mojito,” with almond milk, a little vanilla, a lot of spinach and some mint and lime juice, which hides the spinach flavor so you don’t taste it. Another option is to add some leafy greens to your scrambled eggs or omelet.

Keane-Duncan said when you heat up greens, either through sauteing, baking or boiling them in a broth for soup, this does slightly decrease their nutritional value.

“Raw is where you get the most vitamins,” Keane-Duncan said. “(With soup) a lot of the nutrients come out, but they stay in the soup, (so) you do lose some nutrients, but not a lot.”

If you want to keep those nutrient numbers high, massaging greens like kale can help soften the texture and make them more palatable. First, cut the ribs (or inside stem) from the kale. Then, using either avocado or oil, roll the kale with your fingers for about 10 minutes. One can also massage other types of greens this way.

For collard greens, Keane-Duncan suggests making collard rolls, which you can stuff with whatever you’d like, such as brown rice, quinoa, tofu or turkey. Steaming the collards will wilt them a bit, making them ready for wrapping.

One can also use greens when grilling. Keane-Duncan said if you place spinach on top of a burger (beef or veggie) when it’s almost cooked, the leaves will wilt and meld into the meat. Because most greens are light on flavor, using them won’t change the taste of any recipe very much.

“If you have a dish you normally like, throw some greens in it,” Keane-Duncan said.

Breaking the ‘peas and carrots habit’

Although not a leafy green, cauliflower is quickly climbing the ranks in the contest for healthiest veggie. In the May 24 issue of Newsweek, an article titled “Move Over Broccoli, Cauliflower is the Newest Superfood” claims recent studies have shown cauliflower to be richer in vitamins than other vegetables in the brassica family, which includes broccoli, cabbage and kale.

The cauliflower craze has now moved beyond the home kitchen and into local restaurants. David Walford, executive chef and owner of Splendido at the Chateau in Beaver Creek, doesn’t believe that any vegetable is a “superfood,” but said certain vegetables do tend to go in and out of style.

“I’ve cooked kale and cauliflower my whole life,” Walford said. “I don’t see vegetables as trendy. Vegetables have been around way before us, and we keep rediscovering vegetables (because) we get bored with what we’re eating.”

Walford suggests branching out beyond white cauliflower and trying the orange, green or purple variety. In addition to sauteing and boiling, Walford said not many people know that you can bake a whole head of cauliflower in the oven. Just brush it with olive oil or butter, sprinkle it with spices of your choice and the result is a nice, golden brown color that still retains some of its crunch.

Walford said when it comes to any vegetable, trendy or not, few people experiment with them as much as they could.

“You have to be like a chef and say, ‘Today I’m going to saute this, tomorrow I’m going to roast it (and) the next day I’m going to make a salad out of it,” Walford said.

Walford said people are finally “breaking out of their peas and carrots habit” and exploring the other, and healthier, options in the produce aisle.

“People are trendy,” Walford said. “Vegetables are just sitting there waiting to be eaten, wondering why we don’t eat them more often.”

With so many ways to roast, bake, massage, blend, chop, boil and saute both leafy greens and other vegetables, it’s getting harder for people to say they don’t like to eat them at all. Now if only we could get the kids to like them more than dessert.

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