My Childhood Memories of Vegetables + Roasted Broccoli Recipe

Ronnie's Awesome List presents a guest article by Maria Quintana-Pilling, Founder of urbanspice nutrition.

I was a picky eater as a child.  Last week, I was visiting my parents in Chicago and I was reminded of how it was to be a child. Since my dad retired, cooking has become his hobby. We usually exchange cooking techniques and tips when I am here. By and large, his focus is on cooking meats with vegetables an afterthought.  

On the first night, we had zucchini with dinner to use up the vegetables they had in the fridge.  My dad cut them in large chunks and when I asked what he was going to do with them.  He said, “Steam them,”  as if that was the only way to make zucchini.  That instantly brought back the not-so-fond memories of the steamed vegetables when we had almost every night during my childhood.  Ick. 

I convinced him to sautéed them instead.  

Steaming is great, nutritionally, but I think it lacks character.  For me, eating a steamed vegetable feels more like a chore and like you are eating the vegetable because you ‘should’ - it’s good for you.   Maybe I am a biased and I am just rebelling against what I had as a child but I hardly ever steam my vegetables.    

Last night, we had broccoli with dinner. I’m sure if I let my dad prepare it, we would have had steamed broccoli.  But I didn’t.  I made my Roasted Cheezy Broccoli recipe.  It’s my stand-by on those rushed nights when time and creativity are in short supply. Here’s the recipe…

  • 2 bunches broccoli florets, halved (or one 10-oz bag of frozen broccoli)  
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper 
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast/brewer’s yeast
  • 1 clove garlic (optional), minced or pressed
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil 

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place broccoli in a large bowl.  Sprinkle sea salt, black pepper, and nutritional yeast over broccoli.  Add garlic, if using.  Drizzle olive oil.  Toss to combine.  Transfer to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Roast in oven for 10 minutes.  The bottoms should begin to brown.  Turn broccoli over and roast for another 10 minutes, until nicely browned.  

Remarkably, this works just as well with a bag of frozen broccoli.  No defrosting necessary. You may want to wait about 15 minutes before turning the broccoli over and then roast for another 10-15 minutes. Roasting adds so much flavor and texture, it’s hard not to love it.  The sugars caramelize and crisp in the process and this creates a sweet and crunchy flavor that makes it irresistible.

As much as I love roasting broccoli and other vegetables, I try to change it up.  I sauté and stir-fry.  I mash and grate.  I serve them in soups and even hide them in stews and sauces.  Anything so that it never feels like we are eating the same thing or that eating vegetables is a chore. The added bonus of this broccoli recipe is the nutritional yeast.  It not only adds a sort of cheddar cheese flavor but it’s also high in proteins, B vitamins and zinc, which are important for growing children.

This morning, my dad asked what was in the broccoli that gave it such a good flavor.  That brought a smile to my face.

If you’d like to learn more recipes like this, I invite you to come to the Parent & Kid’s Cooking Class at Taste Kitchen & Table on Wednesday, February 25.  It will be a sweet class to share the experience of cooking and nutrition with your children

Maria Quintana-Pilling is Founder of urbanspice nutrition and a certified holistic nutrition consultant and natural chef, specializing in women’s health issues. On Wednesday, February 25 is she teaching a Parent & Kid’s Cooking Class at Taste Kitchen & Table, 71 Broadway Blvd. Fairfax. Connect with her on  Facebook, and LinkedIn.