By Sarah Isenberg | PHARMATIVE.com
The vegetable purists don’t like the pre-cut stuff, but I say, hey!? If it helps you to eat more vegetables, party on with your pre-cut veg. Sure, they might lose some of their nutritional value as they go through the process of being cut and stored, but they’re still a heckofalot better for you than take-out pad-Thai, right?
One of my favorite mixed vegetable medleys is Trader Joe’s Healthy 8 chopped mix. You’ll find it in the produce section at your local TJ’s, in a lidded bowl. Inside, there’s a diced up mixture of broccoli, carrot, green cabbage, red cabbage, jicama, green bell pepper, radish and celery. What can you do with this? The possibilities are ENDLESS!
I’ll start off with my favorite: The first thing I ever made with this was a salad topped with this amazing miso dressing. This remains a staple item in my weekday lunchtime rotation! The dressing recipe mixes up in about 5 minutes, and will keep in your fridge for about a week. One batch is good for about 4 salads. This is what I do – measure out however much Healthy 8 you want to nom – I usually do 4 salad servings from one container. Add to that a handful of roasted, salted pepitas and handful of raisins – I like TJ’s golden raisins because they tend to be softer. Now, dice a quarter- to a half-avocado and throw that in the mix. Add a tablespoon or two of your miso dressing, a sprinkle of kosher salt, a grind of black pepper and mix it all up. OMG. Sweet, salty, crunchy, umami . . . so satisfying with all that good fat and fiber.
Here are some other ideas that look great to me:
- Pasta salad! This recipe could not be easier. Feel free to fool around with dressings, add some cubed cheese, thinly sliced salami, olives, etc. The recipe calls for gluten-free pasta but you don’t need to use that if you don’t want to . . . what’d be really gorgeous is to use one of the vegetable-based alternative pastas that’s red or green (or a mix)!
- How about a plant-based meal that involves opening a few packages and throwing things together? Perfect for those days when things just go sideways, right? This lentil and veggie salad uses all TJ’s ingredients and will fill you up with tasty, fiber-filled goodness. I’d top it with some sunflower seeds or pepitas or something similar for a nutrient-packed crunch. Make it into a grain bowl by adding brown rice or quinoa – both of which you can get pre-cooked in the freezer section at TJ’s!
- How ‘bout soup? Start with a 32-oz. container of chicken or vegetable broth. Throw in the whole bowl of Healthy 8, a couple chopped cloves of garlic, a chopped onion, a 26-oz. can of diced tomatoes (with their juice), a cup of frozen corn and a 15-oz. can of your favorite beans (rinse and drain them first). Lastly, add 1 ½ Tbsp. of honey and 3 tsp. of turmeric. Let it simmer for 30 minutes ‘til all the vegetables get nice and soft. Taste again for seasonings, add salt & pepper to taste, and keep this on hand all week for appetizers, light meals and/or snacks!