Thursday, October 16, 2008

Adventures in Roasting

The Best Husband Ever and I purchase as much of our groceries in bulk from Costco as possible. It's cheaper, of course, so if you can get your mitts on a lot of non-perishables or you are able to freeze what you can't eat in a reasonable time period, it can save you quite a bit of money. Before shopping at Costco regularly, I thought that surely their products must be low-grade if they were low-priced. This, however, is not the case. Costco products are just as good, if not better, than standard grocery store fare. They also offer a variety of healthy choices and don't just stock up on super-processed foods that carry long shelf lives. For example, you can find organic granola side-by-side with unhealthier cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, healthy dog food without any miscellaneous animal by-products, and part-skim cheese mozzarella.

Bulk items that make a frequent appearance in our pantry include: black beans; refried beans; canned olives; mango-peach salsa (my favorite salsa, incidentally!); cereals like Cheerios, Chex, Kashi Go Lean Crunch!, and pumpkin granola; balsamic vinegar; just about all of our fruit and vegetable haul, including bananas, romaine lettuce, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, grapes, apples, pears, peaches, sweet potatoes, or cucumbers, depending on what's in season and what we feel like; bagels; eggs; 2% cottage cheese; pumpkin puree; frozen berries; applesauce; tortilla chips; calcium supplements and multi-vitamins; toilet paper and paper towels; dog food; and beef jerky. Whew!

A few weeks ago, I saw that Costco is beginning to phase in its fall/winter seasonal items, including bulk packages of canned pumpkin puree (another favorite!) as well as pre-cut fresh butternut squash and brussels sprouts. I had never tried the sprouts before, and I wanted to try my hand at the squash as well, so I bought a package of each. The package of brussels sprouts came with a quick roasting recipe, which I immediately put to the test. I used the last of my farmer's market purple potatoes as well as some mushrooms. My verdict? Simple, fast, healthy, and, above all, tasty! Besides, it's super colorful, which just tickles me more than I can say. I tossed the roasted vegetables into salads as well as enjoyed them by themselves in a few bento lunches (pictured here with salad, Wasa crackers, a wedge of Laughing Cow garlic & herb swiss, Fiber One cereal, and egg replacers with pumpkin that I later microwaved at work). The last batch of this I tried adding a little garlic powder, but in the future will leave that off. Don't mess with simple success, right?

Autumn Roast Medley

Chopped butternut squash
Brussels sprouts, halved
Chopped mushrooms of your choice
Potatoes, scrubbed and chopped

cooking spray

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a baking tray or pan with cooking oil. Arrange the vegetables on the pan so they don't touch each other. Cover the vegetables in a coat of cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring the vegetables once. Remove from the oven and enjoy the vegetables piping hot, or store them for later.

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