There’s all this talk about “clean eating,” and with it, at least in my mind, the assumption that the most challenging part about eating clean is saying no to the “bad” stuff, investing the time (and money) into fresh ingredients, and not overindulging while dining out. But what about the part where sometimes that “clean” food simply just doesn’t taste that good? Not even when compared to something else…but it just tastes bland? This has been one of my biggest issues every time I try to eat healthier, as a bowl of plain veggies–even as a side dish–rarely appeals to me (and you can’t drown everything in ranch dressing and get the same effect).
The good news is, though, that I might have found an easy solution (that’s not just good spices): sauces! One of the main reasons restaurant foods sound so appetizing and fast-casual places that offer up healthier options actually sound good, is in part because of the indulgent-sounding sauces that top the more nutritious stuff. So simple but so overlooked, right?
Luckily, I’ve found at least one go-to, almost entirely healthy meal that’s cheap and relatively easy to make, as well as packs well for weekday lunches: a roasted veggie bowl + a good sauce. There’s some prep work involved, but the ingredients are relatively inexpensive (#avocadosareinseason) and time flies when you have a second hand in the kitchen or Netflix on in the background. Quinoa is a great base and you can easily swap these veggies out for other ones (like peppers, carrots, or my roommate suggested celery root…look it up! Tastes way better than it looks).
Roasted Vegetable Bowl with Avocado Dressing
Makes 4-6 servings
1.5lb baby red potatoes
16oz brussels sprouts, quartered
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
2 tablespoons balsamic glaze (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 ripe avocado
1/3 cup Greek yogurt (I used non-fat)
1/2 cup cilantro, stems included
1 clove garlic
Lime juice to taste (optional)
To roast the potatoes: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut each potato into quarters or eighths and toss into a bowl. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the potatoes, gently mixing to make sure all pieces are covered. Add a little pepper and stir. You can add some more spices here–maybe rosemary or parsley?
Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil, lightly grease with cooking spray, and dump potatoes onto the pan. Make sure they’re spread out and not one on top of another and bake for 50 minutes, taking them out halfway through to rotate the potatoes.
To roast the brussels sprouts: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Cut each brussels sprout into quarters or eighths, making sure you cut off the stem/bottom part. Spread evenly onto a baking sheet lined with tinfoil and roast for 30 minutes, taking them out halfway to toss.
When brussels sprouts are done, take them out of the oven and transfer into a large bowl. Toss with balsamic glaze (I used tongs for this) until well-combined. Set aside.
Avocado dressing: In a blender, combine cilantro, Greek yogurt, lime juice, and garlic clove. Blend until smooth. Refrigerate after opening (if it starts to brown, just give it good stir!). Note: I put wayyy too much cilantro into this batch, which is why its too green. The last time I made this I used the proportions listed above and it worked out much better. I’d recommend tasting and adding more cilantro or Greek yogurt depending on your preferences!
Assembling the bowl: Stir together veggies and quinoa. Personal preference on whether you warm up the dressing or add cold it after heating up the bowl…both taste delicious!
Photos by Monica Dutia for Cake & Lilies