We can all agree snowy and gloomy days don’t make you think of bright, fresh fruits and vegetables. But, it is possible to eat healthy during the winter. As Executive Chef of the Live Blue Kitchen + Café, it’s my responsibility to create and serve nutritious meals to my colleagues and educate the Kansas City community on how to feed their bodies healthy food year-round. Today I’ll introduce you to a casserole recipe that’s a healthy and filling meal to eat during the cold days of Kansas City winters.
Why It’s Healthy
- Root vegetables, like parsnips, are fantastic winter vegetables – they’re flavorful and good for you.
- The parsnip gravy in this recipe helps add more color and nutrients to the meal as well.
- The healthy vegetable mix in the dish includes mushrooms, cauliflower and corn – plus red and yellow bell peppers. These peppers serve as a good body detox while also providing essential nutrients it craves during winter months. The quinoa lends an excellent source of vegetable protein and fiber, which are key to helping the digestive tract run smoothly.
- If you incorporate almonds and avocados, you’ll get the magnesium and healthy fats your body needs as well.
Healthy Winter Casserole
Yields – 1 large casserole dish
Quinoa, cooked – 2-4 cups
- Mushrooms, sliced – 1 cup
- Corn, off the cob – 1 cup
- Red bell peppers, sliced – 1 cup
- Yellow bell peppers, sliced – 1 cup
- Jalapeno, de-seeded, diced – 1 each
- Cauliflower, florets, small cut
Healthy Parsnip Gravy
- Parsnip, peeled, cubed – 1-1.5 quarts
- Vegetable broth or water – Enough to cover parsnip over by 3”
- Thyme, fresh – 1-3 sprigs
- Onion, diced – ¼ cup
- Bay Leaf – 1 each
- Sage Leaves – 2 Tbsp.
- Salt & Pepper – To taste
- Olive Oil – 3 Tbsp. and ¼ cup
- 1-3 sprigs, Chopped Leaves – thyme, fresh
- 1 sprig, Chopped Leaves – rosemary, fresh
- Avocado, cubed
- Fresh parsley chopped
- Toasted almonds
Method of Preparation:
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Season vegetables with as needed of: olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Roast vegetables for 15-20 minutes, and drain excess liquid.
- Put parsnips in large pot with stock or water, thyme, bay leaf, sage leafs and onion. Cover and bring to a simmer.
- Once parsnips are completely tender, remove from heat, strain and save all parsnip cooking liquid. Discard thyme sprig and bay leaf.
- In kitchen blender, add parsnips and 1-2 cups of parsnip cooking liquid. Do not add to much water as you want puree thick and not watery or runny.
- Turn blender on high and remove top while blender is still running.
- Slowly drizzle in cooking liquid until puree starts a vortex.
- Once vortex has started, slowly drizzle in oil. Add more fresh sage if needed.
- Season with salt and pepper. Adjust with more cooking liquid and or oil. Might not need all cooking liquid and/or oil. A thick puree is desired.
- In baking dish, add cooked quinoa and cooked vegetables and pour, as needed, parsnip puree inside and mix all together.
- Baked at 350 until golden brown and 165 degrees internal temperature.
- Garnish with avocado, toasted almonds, and chopped parsley.
Tips From The Chef
Consider these tips to help make the healthy winter casserole even more nutritious and tasty:
- Cook the parsnips in water until they’re soft and puree them, as it’s good for your digestive tract.
- For a protein kick, consider adding diced chicken or turkey to help build muscle support and make the casserole even more filling.
- Feel free to meal prep and always make more than enough for yourself – there’s nothing wrong with leftovers because you can take it to work or have it for dinner the next day.
Always remember to “eat the rainbow.” Your plate should be full of colors, and a recipe like the Healthy Winter Casserole does just that. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram for more recipes and updates about life at Blue KC.