Monday, May 31, 2010

Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli and Cauliflower

One of the main reasons that I started a food blog is that my sons have asked me to  compile the recipes for the food I have been cooking for them all their lives. They are just about to go off on their own so this has become a living cookbook for this last phase of having my sons at home. And if they are home, they usually want something to eat! So, many of these recipes are things they request and they are often very simple foods - except that I raised my sons on a wide variety of ethnic foods from around the world so they wouldn't be too ethnocentric when they started traveling. But sometimes, the best homemade food is uncomplicated comfort food. And in the ongoing effort to get my sons to eat vegetables, I've tried every way imaginable to prepare them. What I found is that they really love them stir fried or roasted - actually they love roasted food of all kinds.

So, last night, I roasted a chicken. I tried a new way - roasting it for less time (one hour) and at a higher temperature than usual (450 degrees) and it turned out wonderfully. I also roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. I like to make my oven work hard when it's on so I put the vegetables in when the chicken was halfway done and the vegetables carmelized beautifully. My oldest son loves the way sweet potatoes almost taste like candy when they brown. My younger son loves the garlicky broccoli and cauliflower and asks me to make sure they are very browned. I use garlic powder or dehydrated garlic as it is less likely to burn than fresh garlic. Here's the simple recipes:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Heat oven to 450 degrees

2 Orange Sweet Potatoes (often incorrectly called Yams), peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 Yellow Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
5 - 6 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Cajun Seasoning (I like Lousianne)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Sea Salt to taste

Toss Sweet Potatoes chunks in olive oil and place on large baking pan. Sprinkle with Cajun Seasoning, Garlic Powder and Sea Salt. Place in oven and roast for 15 minutes. Take out of oven and turn with a spatula. Return to oven and cook for an additional 10 - 15 minutes or until Sweet Potatoes are browned and a little crusty.

Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower

Heat oven to 450 degrees

1 small head Broccoli, florets broken off, stalk peeled and cut into 1/2 wide chunks
1 small head Cauliflower, broken into florets
4 - 5 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Sea Salt

On a large baking pan, toss Broccoli and Cauliflower with Olive Oil, Garlic Powder and Sea Salt. Place in oven and roast for 10 minutes, turn and roast for 10 - 15 minutes more or until broccoli and cauliflower just begin to brown.

Five Element Analysis

Sweet Potatoes are wonderfully earthy. They are so sweet - what else could they be? And carmelizing makes them even earthier. The olive oil adds some of the Wood Element, the Cajun seasoning adds Fire (from the heat) and Metal from the spices and the salt adds just a hint of the Water Element. It clearly needs to accompany some other foods to be balanced, but it is a very healthy earthy food. The ancient Chinese believed that sweet potatoes balanced blood sugar and could help prevent diabetes.

The broccoli belongs to the Wood Element and the cauliflower to the Metal Element. The garlic adds even more Metal and the olive oil adds some Wood. Because they carmelize, there is a little bit of Earth Element added, but the Fire are missing. So a Fire beverage or desert would round this meal out and perhaps a better protein might be pork or fish so that the Water Element is better represented.

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