These vegetables are made out of dessert.
…And roasted butternut squash. And roasted beets. But mostly, they’re made out of dessert.
Fall, you’uns. Welcome to it!
Fall is officially here and I’m embracing all the fall-like things. Long-sleeved shirts (see picture below. Just kidding…that’s a bad example), Chai tea lattes, slow-cooked comfort food, and anything that can be roasted and/or drizzled in maple syrup. I want it all to slam dunk me in the face. At the same time. In abundance.
Are you ready for fall to set up camp in your mouth?
I know what you’re thinking.
Is Julia wearing pants?
The answer is at the bottom of this blog post written upside-down, backwards, and in Icelandic.
But first: vegetables.
I have determined that there’s such a thing as dessert vegetables, and these are they. There’s only one tablespoon of pure maple syrup in the recipe, but the natural sugars in the butternut squash and beets seep out during the roasting process and coat the veggies in caramelized sweet emotion. The cinnamon also adds to the warmth of the veggies, which is what makes you feel as though autumn has kick started your locomotion.
Don’t skimp on the salt (unless you need to for medical reasons), as salt makes things taste sweeter, sho’ nuff!
Don’t skimp on the oil. Fat makes things taste reaaaal good, ah shhh-t son!
Time for some root-speak!
Beets, you’uns. I can’t say enough about them. They cleanse, they heal, they energize, they replenish. I’ve given you nutritional facts and figures in the past, so instead of going there again, let’s talk big picture:
Cleansing: Beets are cleansing because they are full of betalains, which are antioxidants. I like to look at antioxidants as the cleaning crew that sweeps through a house after a massive party and removes trash, rearranges furniture, fixes broken items, and puts everything back in working order. Beets are also full of fiber and speed up your metabolism, which helps your body process all the food that’s already there, leaving you with a clean(er) slate.
Healing: The cleansing and healing properties of beets go hand-in hand. It’s one thing to clean up a system, and another thing to fix damage. The antioxidants in beets detoxify your system, helping to remove dammaged cells caused by every day pollutants (including crappy food), and help prevent your healthy cells from oxidizing. In the same regard, they prevent your cells from oxidization (damage), boosting your immune system, and keeping your cells working efficiently.
Energizing: Beets are full of natural sugar. Because the sugar is coupled with fiber, your body recognizes it as an incredible source of fuel. The fiber helps your body process the sugars efficiently and slowly, which provides sustained energy to your system as opposed to a sugar spike and crash. If I were a sports nutritionist, I would recommend athletes include beets (and sweet potatoes) in their diet as one of their sources for healthy carbohydrates.
Related to energy: Beets are an aphrodisiac. They are full of boron, which helps produce human sex hormones, and also contain nitrates, which increase your blood flow and circulation. Need proof? Eat a pile of roasted beets at dinner and see what happens at 3am. Just.say.ing.
Nature’s Viagra, go get it!
Replenishing: Beets are ridiculously full of Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. They contain [in order of abundance] folate, manganese, potassium, copper, magnesium, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6. This nutrient profile elevates your vitamins and replenishes your nutrient tank. They are also a natural anti-inflammatory, which helps calm your cells and brings them back to a state of balance (homeostasis). This anti-inflammatory characteristic is why beets are touted as a natural cancer fighter.
Bonus features: beets elevate your brain function because the nitrates help increase blood flow (see Viagra comment above), and bring more oxygen to your brain. Boom! Beets make you smart. They also help lower your blood pressure and increase your stamina for high-intensity exercise. Boom! Beets make you strong.
If you aren’t quite ready to be sucker-punched by fall, save this recipe for your Thanksgiving gathering. It’s a fabulous side dish and you can easily double the vegetables to feed a huge crowd. Or if you’re like me, make this recipe a weekly occurrence. I use leftover roasted veggies on green salads for lunch. These leftovers would be perfect for my Fall Roasted Vegetables Salad.
You’re such a good listener. It’s time for dessert.
Tools I Used to Prepare This Recipe:
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash and Beets
- 1 medium butternut squash peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 large red beet peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
- 1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup*
- Zest of 1 orange optional
- Dried oregano
- Toasted walnuts
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel and chop the butternut squash and the beet into ½” cubes.
Place them in a mixing bowl and add oil, salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Toss well using your hands and make sure the veggies are all evenly coated.
Lay the vegetables out on a large (or two smaller) baking sheet in a single layer.
Roast vegetables for 40 to 50 minutes, stirring once half-way through roasting.
Place oven on the broil setting for 3 to 5 minutes in order to crisp up the veggies.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with dried oregano, orange zest, and additional salt if desired.
Serve with toasted walnuts and pistachios.
Recipe Notes*You can add an additional tablespoon if you would like to sweeten the veggies even more.