Moroccan Spiced Carrots

I’ve been experimenting with different ways to incorporate more vegetables into my diet lately.  After all, we are supposed to have 4-5 servings a day and I’m not sure I’m getting that.  After searching on the internet for some recipe ideas I stumbled across a recipe for Moroccan-style carrots that intruiged me.

Firstly, let it be known that I love carrots.  Back when I was a picky eater, and vegetables were a four-letter word to me, I was introduced to carrots.  They were one of the first vegetables I instantly liked.  They can be cool and crisp; a refreshing treat with a creamy dip.  Or they can be roasted, tender and complex.  Plus, carrots are one of the vegetables that can actually be better for you after they are cooked.

Now, I know some of you currently picky eaters are out there thinking, “Gross, cooked veggies.  I don’t like mushy, stinky cooked carrots.”  And this is where I say you are WRONG!  There are a couple of main reasons I have found some people claim they don’t like cooked vegetables.  1) They have only had badly cooked vegetables (ie: overcooked, dry, or mushy) or 2) They have not tried seasoning their vegetables.  Well, here’s my tips to ensure you will have delicious, healthy, nutritious carrots for dinner.

Step 1:  Cutting the vegetables.  It is very important that all of your vegetable pieces are approximately the same size.  Do not skip this step or you will have some mushy, overdone carrots, and some hard, underdone carrots.  If you cut them up so they are all approximately the same size, everything will cook evenly and they will all be done at approximately the same time.

Step 2:  Do not cook vegetables for long!  Veggies (unless very starchy) rarely take longer than 20 minutes to cook.  You should be watching vegetables carefully anytime you cook them because they will go from almost done to overdone fast.  Make sure to keep an eye on them and test them with a fork for tenderness.  Take your vegetables off the heat the second BEFORE you think they are done.  This is because all food cooks for a short while after you remove it from the heat.

Adapted from Pikelet & Pie

Approximately 2 cups of carrots, trimmed, washed and peeled.

1 1/2 Tbl olive oil

1 Tbl butter

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp corriander

1/4 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and butter in a pan over medium heat.  While the oil and butter are heating through, combine all of the spices together in a bowl.  Once the butter is completely melted, add carrots.  Cook until almost fork tender, approximately 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your carrots.   Add the spice mixture to the carrots and cook for a couple of minutes are coated and the spices are slightly toasted.  Turn heat off and splash lemon juice over carrots.  Cover with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Mix well and serve warm.

Sweet Potato Zucchini Gratin

Delicious, creamy, crunchy, savory vegetables.  I love vegetables.  But I only recently discovered this love.   Growing up, I HATED anything with veggies.  Then I grew up and found out the beauty that is vegetables.  I call this a gratin, but there is no cream.  It really is a healthier version of gratin that is just as creamy and satisfying.  gratin

1 medium zucchini

1 medium sweet potato

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

Olive oil

Parmesan cheese

Panko bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Simple, I know.  But delicious. There are 2 simple tricks to making this dish so delicious. Its all in how you cut the veggies and how you cook them in the oven.

Slice the sweet potato and zucchini into thin slices.  The first trick is to keep the slices the same approximate size so they cook at the same time.  Coat the bottom of a 9×5 bread pan with olive oil.  Start layering the zucchini in a single layer on the bottom of pan.  Brush some oil over the vegetables. Then sprinkle a little cheese, garlic, salt and pepper over the vegetables. Then place a layer of sweet potato over the zuchinni. Brush oil over the sweet potato and sprinkle with cheese, garlic, salt and pepper.  Continue this until you have used all the vegetables.  Then top with bread crumbs.

Make sure your oven is heated to 375.  Here comes the second trick.  Make sure you start cooking the veggies covered.  I usually cover mine with foil.  Cook like this for approximately 2o min.  Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking.  The vegetables should be soft to the touch.

With these simple steps, you’ll fall in love with vegetables all over again!