Vegetables Make for Wonderful Vessels: Guest post by Andy Bellatti

This is a guest post by Andy Bellatti

Vegetables Make for Wonderful Vessels

Vegetables are often relegated to side dish material.  This phenomenon is not exclusive to omnivores, either.  Many vegetarians fall into the “one faux-meat and two veg” trap, making vegetables the supporting act to tofu, tempeh, seitan, or beans.Don’t get me wrong, there are a plethora of delicious and nutrient-rich vegetable side dish recipes out there.  While the side dish act is one that vegetables are happy to step in and perform, don’t forget that sometimes they want their turn in the spotlight.  What better way to give them precedence than by making them the delicious vessel for other ingredients?  Consider these three examples:

1) The Right Stuff: Whether you’re talking bell peppers, tomatoes, or eggplant, vegetables can be edible baskets for other healthful ingredients.  Try quinoa and raisins inside a roasted bell pepper, barley and feta cheese stuffed into a large tomato, or wild rice, tamari, and chopped cashews inside eggplant.  Nutrition bonus: eggplant skins offer a wide array of heart-healthy antioxidants and phytonutrients!


2) Think Green (Or Purple!): When it comes to creating a quick lunch on a sweltering summer day, most people think of cool fillings (hummus, cucumbers, salsa, sliced avocado, canned tuna, etc) that typically go in between slices of sandwich bread or inside a tortilla wrap.  Well, think outside the bun, bread slice, and wrap — and let a vegetable hold everything together.  Sturdy Thai lettuce leaves make for great wraps, as does purple cabbage.  Alternatively, you can also use these “wrappers” as cups (as seen in accompanying photograph). Since these vegetables offer dark-colored pigments, they also offer a plethora of healthful compounds to further give your meal a healthy boost.


3) Salad of the Sea: Salads are a summertime lunch staple.  For example, I love the combination of peppery arugula, sliced mango, diced avocado, grape tomatoes, and toasted pumpkin seeds with a tahini-garlic dressing.  To prevent falling into a salad rut, I’ll sometimes call for some help from a dear deep-sea friend: seaweed.  Wrap your salad inside two or three nori sheets and your meal is taken to a whole new level flavor, texture, and nutrition-wise.  Sea vegetables are high in vitamins A, C, and K, very rich in minerals, and a wonderful source of DHA and EPA, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish!


Go ahead, make a vegetable your leading culinary figure.  I guarantee it will be a hit with critics and audiences alike.

Andy Bellatti, MS, is a Seattle-based nutritionist, writer, and speaker, and is the creator of the Small Bites blog (  He also provides customized nutrition-based services (  He expects to take his Registered Dietitian exam next Summer. His work has been featured in Oxygen, Today’s Dietitian, AOL Health, and  You can follow him on Twitter @andybellatti.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 at 9:00 am and is filed under Guest Posts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Vegetables Make for Wonderful Vessels: Guest post by Andy Bellatti”

  1. Brooke Schantz, MS, RD, LDN Says:

    I really enjoyed your article Andy! Dietitians always try to get their clients to eat more vegetables and this is just such a great way to increase intake :)

  2. Andy Bellatti Says:

    I appreciate the kind words, Brooke!

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