One of the biggest issues that I hear is thinking that “diet food” is boring. Veggies in particular get fingers pointed at them for being unbearable. I used to choke down baked (!) chicken breasts and steamed broccoli, and made faces the entire time too. Word to the wise: Never eat baked chicken breasts. They are tough, dry, and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. Grill is the answer to your chicken prayers.
You have chicken prayers, right? LOL. One thing that I tell clients to do when eating something that they aren’t excited about is to think “How can I make this taste better?” Add a little butter, sprinkle on a touch of cheese, amp up the flavor with herbs or spices. Healthy doesn’t mean boring or plain unless you choose it to be. Please don’t choose it.
Roasting is a great way to bring out the flavor in your veggies and make them less veggie. By roasting broccoli and letting it char and crisp on the edges, it adds another level of texture and flavor. Instead of very veggie-flavored steamed broccoli, or mushy boiled broccoli, you have smoky, crispy fun little trees. I roasted a batch last night and tossed them into a salad with sweet and savory flavors. As I was eating it, all I kept thinking was “Damn, this is a good salad!”
Roasted Broccoli Salad with Tahini Dressing
- 1 cup (172g) black lentils
- 4 cups (200g) broccoli florets
- 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp (8g) nutritional yeast
- 6 cups (200g) fresh spinach, chopped
- 2 stalks (120g) celery, diced
- 2 green onions, white and green parts diced
- 2 oz (56g) craisins
- 2 Tbsp (32g) tahini
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- Pinch of garlic powder
Cook the lentils according to package directions and set aside to cool. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with foil. Chop your broccoli florets into small pieces. Mine were about the size of the end of my thumb from the last knuckle to the tip. Toss the broccoli in a bowl with the soy sauce and nutritional yeast to coat.
Spread the florets onto the cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until they brown on the edge and get crisp. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Chop the spinach, celery, and onions and add to a bowl with the craisins. Toss to combine. Whisk the tahini, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and pinch of garlic in a small bowl to make the dressing.
Add the cooled lentils and broccoli to the bowl of veggies, drizzle in the dressing to taste, and toss to mix. Divide evenly into bowls and salt and pepper if desired.
Makes 4 servings at approximately 373 calories each – 21g protein, 52g carbs, and 9g fat.
I got crazy and I made a bunch of fakin’ bits to sprinkle on my salad. Get it? Fakin’ bits? LOL, I named them myself and pretended they were bacon bits. If you don’t like the idea of tahini dressing for the salad, try ranch or another dressing that you enjoy. Don’t like the combo of veggies I used? Give ones you do like a whirl and make it fun.
Always think to yourself “How could I make this taste better?” The roasting trick works with more than just broccoli and you can use different spices and herbs as you roast. Try green beans with olive oil, garlic salt and parmesan for example, or asparagus with lemon juice and pepper. Don’t settle for boring and it won’t be boring.
If you need more ideas on how to eat your veggies, let me know. I love to talk food and I have tons of fun ideas to make you forget that you’re actually dieting.