So it’s 2014….Duh, I know you know. This year I wanted to add a few NEW features to the blog to kick off 2014 with a bang. I first added a new “30 Day Fitness Challenge” where at the beginning of every month I will introduce one exercise and a daily plan where you will work your way up in time or repetitions until the last day of the month. The challenge is intended to not require any equipment and will hopefully take you no more than 5 minutes to complete. Every month I will change it up, changing different parts of the body and targeting common trouble areas we all like to complain about. It’s been really fun so far and if you missed this month’s plank challenge don’t worry. There is always February. Check it out here for more details and join the crew. Since I am getting such great positive results with the fitness challenge, it got me thinking. I wanted to do something similar that was food related and that is where “My Year of the Ugly Vegetable” theme was created. The rest is history.
Last year, Paleo was the most googled diet of the year. That is pretty bad a$$; people are starting to realize that THIS lifestyle (not diet) is NOT A FAD. Let’s be honest and admit it, we all know processed and artificially made foods are bad for us and are the reason why more than 1/3 of adults are obese. So if the majority of the people know those super convenient foods in bright packaging are bad, why don’t they STOP eating it?!?!? Exactly…but that is where I come in.
I hate using labels and more and more I find myself refraining from using the term “Paleo” when asked how I eat because it is too restrictive and quite frankly sometimes people already have a negative preconceived notion about the Paleo Diet. The last thing I want is people to think we are those weird picky eaters. So I would like to share with you why I eat the way I eat in hopes it will not only help you eat healthy, but also give you the will power to stay away from those factory, made food items that are literally making you sick. So, I am “Paleo” because I know what grains and other processed foods do to my body; they turn into sugar and too much sugar is bad for you. They also reek havoc on our intestines and internal organs, cause leaking guts, instigate autoimmune disease, create acne (hello that was the reason behind those ugly high school years), etc…very bad! I also eat “Paleo” because I like how much more energy I have and above all I eat “Paleo” because I eat 100% more vegetables that I ever did! And that is not a lie, I can promise you that, just ask my Dad! Those are the reasons why I associate with the “Paleo” lifestyle, but not because it is a cool, fad diet or because caveman ate that way thousands of years ago or because most cool CrossFitters eat that way. I eat “Paleo” because it is good for you and the foods I eat are digestible for our body and are packed with nutrients.
A common myth with the Paleo diet is many people think it is similar to the Adkin’s Diet, but they are wrong. Paleo diets consists mostly of vegetables followed by protein, fruits, then good healthy fats that come from nuts, oils and avocados. When I first started transitioning to Paleo, I learned to enjoy and cook mainstream vegetables in place of grains like zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, etc. Over the last two years, I have learned to try NEW vegetables that are not as popular. The best part about these hidden gems are the fact that they are so delicious and even more so good for you. This is where my 12 month food challenge comes in, I know you were wondering when I would talk about it again. I have collected 12 of my favorite “weird” vegetables that I will refer to as “ugly,” but really are just not as popular and have a bad rap. So for my food challenge in 2014, my goal is to share recipes monthly with you all on how to cook my favorite “ugly” vegetables. So this post will be the first of a series of posts that I will title “My Year of the Ugly Vegetable.” I want to prove to you that these veggies are not only tasty and just need a new marketing campaign, but are so good for you it will be silly to ignore them any longer.
I am going to start slow and start with Brussel Sprouts. Brussel Sprouts always had a bad wrap until recently. I know more and more people are starting to eat them because they discovered roasting them (or pan searing) was the secret to yummy, crispy brussel sprouts. But that was not how I first ate them. When I was growing up, my parents would steam, boil or serve them straight from a can and I remember thinking how mushy and gross they were. It was a shame too because they really are super foods. Brussel sprouts are loaded with Vitamin A, folacin, potassium, calcium and high in fiber which all lowers our cholesterol, effectively regulates our body’s inflammatory responses, prevents cancer, aides digestion and lowers blood sugar just to name a few benefits. My favorite version of brussel sprouts is baking them with bacon because who does not love bacon?!?!?!
What I love about this recipe is it is super easy and my husband and I eat an entire pound by ourselves in one sitting. Sometimes I add a few cranberries and chopped walnuts or pecans the the last 10 minutes of the baking process to spruce it up. Another plus is IF you are lucky enough to have leftovers you can certainly reheat the brussel sprouts with the bacon and add an egg over easy the next morning for a yummy breakfast hash. Who would have thought years ago, I would be eating brussel sprouts for breakfast AND dinner! Delicious. Since I had the bright idea to serve them for breakfast, I almost always roast 2lbs at a time just to guarantee leftovers.
So here’s the recipe. It is not rocket science for sure and it doesn’t have to be to taste good.
- 1 lb of brussel sprouts
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3-4 slices of bacon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Rinse and cut your brussel sprouts into ¼s or ⅓s for your little ones. Make sure you keep the stem on them to hold them together.
- Place your washed and cut brussel sprouts on a lined cookie sheet (parchment paper or aluminum foil will do). Coat them with olive oil, salt and pepper and mix throughout.
- Finally add 3-4 pieces of bacon to the top of your brussel spouts. In my opinion, the more bacon the better. When you bake it, the bacon grease will drip on the brussel sprouts giving them more crunch and flavor. I gauge when the brussel sprouts are done on the bacon. I usually keep them roasting until the bacon is crispy.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want to jazz up the recipe add ¼ cup of cranberries and chopped walnuts or pecans to the last 10 minutes of the baking process.
- Chop the bacon and stir. Get ready to devour them. Don't be fooled about how easy this recipe is; it's super delicious.
So make sure to check back in monthly to see what ugly vegetable I will be featuring next. Feel free to comment on any other ways you enjoy brussel sprouts too.
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