Commentary: Try roasting vegetables and get out of the veggie rut

Commentary: Try roasting vegetables and get out of the veggie rut
August 31
00:00 2017

By Lynne Mitchell, Guest Columnist

Eating a variety of vegetables is part of a nutritious diet.  Dietitians recommend eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables every day.  If you are in a veggie rut, try changing up the way you cook vegetables by roasting.   Roasting brings out the natural sweetness in vegetables and can convert a non-vegetable eater into a vegetable lover! 

Veggies can be roasted individually or with a mixture of vegetables cooked at one time.  It is important keep some space between veggies for the roasting process.  As a general rule, you can roast vegetables in a 400 to 425 degree oven.  With tomatoes, I like to roast tomatoes at a lower temperature (250 to 300 degrees) for a longer period of time.

Before roasting, wash and chop vegetables – then add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to the vegetables.  To assure the olive oil coats the vegetables, put the oil in a bowl or baggie with the vegetables and gently toss.  Other options include using an olive oil spray bottle to spray oil on the vegetables or drizzling oil over the vegetables once they are in the pan.  Transfer the vegetables onto a foil-lined pan or cookie sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and put the veggies in a pre-heated oven.  Don’t overdo the oil or you will end up with soggy vegetables.

Roasting a single kind of vegetable together is the easiest roasting method as it will cook uniformly – that is, if you slice or chop them in similar size pieces.  Pairing similar veggies (for example, parsnips and carrots) together in a roasting pan is another method you may want to use.  Vegetables that are similar in texture and size will have similar cooking times.  For maximum variety and flavor, mix a variety of vegetables together.  One of my favorite roasting combinations is parsnips, carrots, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes and onion.

When roasting a variety of different vegetables, you may want to cook them in stages in one pan.  Start with root veggies first as they will take anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes to roast – again, depending on the size they are cut.  You can add onions and other cruciferous veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower) about 20 minutes in the cooking process and then add softer veggies for the last 20 minutes of cooking.  Many of the veggies will shrink in size as you roast them.  Be careful not to overcrowd the pan with veggies to avoid interfering with the roasting process. 

How do you know when the veggies are done?  Start checking your vegetables after about 15 minutes of roasting and move them around the pan with a spatula, as necessary.  When the veggies start getting a char on the outside you know they are almost ready!  At this point, cook to your desired level of doneness.  You can check the doneness of potatoes and other root veggies by sticking them with a fork.    

If you choose to season vegetables, do so prior to roasting.  Try onion, garlic, rosemary, basil, thyme, salt and pepper for added flavor.  Remember, vegetables should fill half of your plate during your main meal.  For optimal freshness and flavor, buy locally grown produce at farmers’ market or grocery store.   

Lynne M. Mitchell MS, RD, LDN is Community Nutritionist with the Forsyth County Department of Public Health ( You can reach her at 336-703-3216 (direct line) or

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