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How to Roast Kid-Friendly Vegetables: Add Some “Sweet” Without Sugar!

Veggies ready for roasting (golden beets, turnips, onions, Brussels sprouts)

Sometimes I feel sorry for vegetables.

It seems like they’re always the “lowest on the totem pole” when it comes to food groups. People crave sugar, salty snacks, and even a good steak in the protein category…Ice cream and a glass of milk get the milk mustache seal of approval in the dairy category…and anyone who’s had a toddler knows fruits are basically candy at that age.

But poor, poor vegetables — even when someone gets excited about them, everyone laughs as if you’re taking pity on the nerd. (Extra nerdy fact: lowest on the totem pole is actually the most prestigious location so this is where veggies really SHOULD be!)

Last week, we were at a steakhouse and I asked my boys to agree on which side they wanted with the kids’ meal they were sharing: french fries, mashed potatoes or a vegetable. My five-year-old perked up, eyes wide open and said excitedly, “A vegetable! That’s what I want!”

Everyone laughed at him! The poor guy ended up with mashed potatoes, which he didn’t even like, but they had to make one choice and I didn’t feel like being the mean mom out at the restaurant forcing the vegetables.

See what I mean? Poor vegetables!

Can you imagine a world where vegetables are brought as the centerpiece of a holiday party for a school classroom? Where they are the requisite offering at youth group rather than pizza?

That’s probably a long way off, but if roasted vegetables have anything to say about it, they’ll get a fighting chance!

How to Roast Kid-Friendly Vegetables

Roasting vegetables is a fantastic technique for kitchen stewards to learn because it checks all the boxes:

  • Saves time. There’s hardly any stirring, checking, or tending when it comes to roasted vegetables and you don’t have to cut them very small, saving time on both ends.
  • Saves money. Roasting is perfect for inexpensive root vegetables, and you certainly don’t need to spend the extra money on steam-in-a-bag frozen veggies! (We can talk about microwaving and plastic another day, oy!)
  • Increases nutrition. When roasting, it’s very easy to put many different kinds of vegetables on the same tray. That generally means people will give themselves bigger servings, which means a greater variety and quantity of nutrients.
  • Kids like them. Because roasting caramelizes the vegetables, it brings out the natural sweetness, which is much more palatable to children than the bitterness that many veggies have.

How to Roast Vegetables

cauliflower

This is such a simple process, it’s hard to mess up!

Don’t worry, I’ll share an exact recipe for those of you who aren’t feeling creative or confident in the kitchen yet, but basically there are just a few steps:

  1. Cut vegetables to a similar size.
  2. Toss in a bit of oil or fat.
  3. Season. This can be as simple as salt and pepper, or grab one of those seasoning blends that you never know what to do with because they’re not in any recipes, and sprinkle it on.
  4. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet or glass baking dish.
  5. Roast at a high temperature, between 400°–450° F. Depending on the vegetable, this might take between 30-90 minutes.
Cauliflower

All you have to do is stir them around once or twice during roasting to make sure they’re evenly done. Pull them out to serve when the edges are brown but not black. See that lovely caramelization in the photo above? I probably could have roasted the cauliflower 10 minutes longer, because even with the edges starting to brown, they were a little al dente (which I like but my children don’t as much).

It’s as simple as that, and there’s a lot of room for error: at least 10-15 minutes where they’ll be delicious anywhere in that range.

Favorite Herbs and Spices for Roasted Vegetables

When I’m steaming vegetables, I tend to be so boring: olive oil or butter on top and salt and pepper.

But roasting is always getting started at the beginning of the meal, so I still have enough energy to be creative!

I do love grabbing those herb and spice blends that I often get for free from Penzeys Spices: things like Sandwich Sprinkle, or Herbs de Provence, which I know isn’t even very unique, but I’m never quite sure when to use it if a recipe doesn’t call for it. Here’s your answer – roasted vegetables!

Sweet potatoes before and after roasting

You can sprinkle just about anything on, but if you’re not feeling super creative, here are a couple options that I default to as well:

  • Turmeric, paprika, and black pepper (This has the added benefit of being anti-inflammatory.)
  • Dried dill, salt, and pepper (Simple and pretty.)
  • Taco seasoning or just plain cumin (If your family loves Mexican, tell them you’ve made Mexican vegetables. They might go over even better that way!)
  • Chili powder for those who like it spicy (You can also serve with extra hot sauce.)
  • Italian seasoning (This is my son Paul’s favorite. He pretty much grabs Italian seasoning or oregano for everything he makes up!) Yes, my teenage son makes up recipes because we taught him to cook as a kid! 😉 
  • Fresh herbs are great too, like the very first time I learned to roast winter vegetables.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. How do you season your roast vegetables?

Again, remember the great news is that just salt and pepper with all that caramelization is really all that’s needed. But it’s a fun way to be creative and use additional herbs and spices.

Look how the roasted golden beets, turnips, onions, and Brussels sprouts from the top photo turned out:

dill roasted mixed vegetables - golden beets, turnips, Brussels sprouts, onions in glass dish

Time-Saving Tip for Your Roasted Vegetables

I love and hate this tip because it wastes a plastic bag, but it definitely saves time. To evenly distribute your olive oil or oil of choice on your roasted vegetables, you can put them in a plastic Ziploc bag and shake them up and down.

This is obviously a great way to get them involved by teaching your kids how to cook. Feel free to reuse the bag for multiple kinds of vegetables on the same night, and I bet you could zip the bag up and store it in the fridge to reuse it many times before throwing it away. (I haven’t tried this yet though.)

My mom taught me this trick when she made Rainbow Roasted Veggies for our family once:

Rainbow veggies for roasting

Talk about pretty, don’t you think?? High five to my mom!!

In the pic you’ll see another quick-but-not-so-eco-friendly strategy: put parchment paper under your veggies for easy clean up. At least parchment is more sustainable than aluminum foil, which is a non-renewable resource that may disappear someday!!

My preferred method is to simply mix the vegetables and oil up in a glass or stainless steel bowl. I never measure the oil – I just eye it up.

I typically add the seasoning after I have spread the vegetables out onto the pan. I find distribution is more even that way.

Don’t Make This Mistake When Roasting Vegetables

Vegetables ready for roasting

Although roasting is a very forgiving way to prepare vegetables and extremely kid-friendly, I can think of one big mistake that people might make when roasting vegetables.

You definitely want to make sure that if you choose multiple kinds of veggies, they take about the same amount of time to roast. For example cauliflower, parsnips and broccoli only take about half an hour to roast. Sweet potatoes, turnips, and other root vegetables, if cut in the same size, will take at least a full hour.

So you have to get a little savvy: Either cut your longer roasting vegetables much smaller to mix in with the shorter roasting vegetables in larger chunks, or make separate pans that you put into the oven at different times.

It’s no fun to pull out your pan of roasted vegetables to proudly serve to your family and find that one entire type of vegetable has burned to a crisp!

CookSmarts has a vegetable roasting chart on this page which is a great reference.

Average Roasting Times for Vegetables at 425°F

  • Root vegetables (beets, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots): 30 to 45 minutes, depending on what size you chopped them
  • Winter squash (butternut squash, acorn squash): 20 to 60 minutes, also depends on size
  • Crucifers (broccoli, cauliflower, thin cabbage rounds, Brussels sprouts): 15 to 25 minutes
  • Softer vegetables (zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers): 10 to 20 minutes
  • Long, thin vegetables (asparagus, green beans, veggies cut like fries): 10 to 20 minutes
  • Onions: 30 to 45 minutes depending on your taste
  • Tomatoes: 15 to 20 minutes

There are several meals in this Whole30 side vegetables post that use various combinations of roasted vegetables. Here’s my recipe for parsnip cottage fries and grab some other ways to use parsnips, if you aren’t sure how to prepare them.

Dill Roasted Mixed Vegetables

You can always mix up a few different veggies and spices and experiment, but here’s one simple tried and true combination:

Print
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Roasted Veggies with Dill

  • Author: Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40-60 minutes
  • Total Time: 52 minute
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Roasting

Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 turnips peeled and diced in 1/4″ cubes
  • 1 golden beet peeled and diced
  • 10 Brussels sprouts halved
  • 78 baby onions halved, or 12 medium onions, wedged
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • dried dill
  • salt


ship kroger


Instructions

  1. Layer all the cut veggies except the Brussels sprouts in a 9×13 baking dish.
  2. Toss with olive oil (I like to do it right in the casserole dish to save dishes).
  3. Sprinkle a generous layer of dill on top and salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase) to taste.
  4. Bake at 400-450F for 40-60 minutes until vegetables are tender (lightly browned is best), adding the Brussels sprouts in after the first 15-20 minutes (they cook faster).

Notes

Use this idea with lot of different veggies and spices to create new side dishes every night.

Swap out rutabaga, sweet potatoes, cabbage, carrots, leeks, bell peppers, or cauliflower.

Try cumin, chili powder, crushed red peppers — and this is a great chance to use those seasoning blends that might be filling your spice rack that you are never quite sure how to use!


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 83
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 88mg
  • Fat: 5g
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 2g

Keywords: vegetable, root vegetable, dill

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Never heard of golden beets? You’re in luck – they don’t taste like dirt at all, not like regular purple beets!!

golden beets

They’re almost highlighter yellow once you cut them, they’re so bright. Beets support detox pathways, and you can use the whole vegetables by sauteeing the beet greens or including them in a green smoothie.

Double Dare – Try Roasting Vegetables!

Let’s get back to making vegetables fun! I double dirty-dog dare you to roast some vegetables for your family this week, especially if you’ve never done it before.

roasted sweet potatoes, chicken, cucumbers on metal plate

If you’re feeling science-minded, try a side by side taste test.

Roast cauliflower and serve next to steamed cauliflower.

Roast cabbage and serve next to sautéed cabbage, with raw cabbage for additional testing.

You can see where you might go with this, and I guarantee you will be shocked at how different the flavor is between roasted, steamed, sautéed and raw.

Here’s to our best shot at making vegetables fun again!

What vegetables are your favorite to roast?

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

9 thoughts on “How to Roast Kid-Friendly Vegetables: Add Some “Sweet” Without Sugar!”

  1. Put them in a plastic bag and shake the plastic bag? Why not put them in a glass container and shake the glass container (would definitely work if it was big enough). Or cover a large bowl with a clean towel and shake a few times…

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      I use a bowl with a lid, but hadn’t thought to cover with a towel if you have a lidless container, great idea!

  2. Roasted vegetables are a standard at our house. My husband takes a tin for lunch every day and has more for dinner at night. I make up a big container of “Paula Deen seasoning” (1 cup Himalayan salt, 1/4 cup garlic powder, 1/4 cup ground black pepper) and sprinkle liberally after drizzling with olive oil. He & I like the veggies a little darker and crispier than our children do, so I just pick the yummier one for us and serve the softer ones to our children.

  3. Kathryn Hutton

    I would have ordered a side of veggies for him! We roast veggies all the time. We love what we call burnt broccoli. Roast till the edges are just black. Wonderful!

    1. That’s wonderful, burnt broccoli! You’re so right, should have added a side for him. We had just eaten a fun “ice cream before dinner” meal though, so we were sticking to cheap b/c I knew no one was really hungry. 😉 Some days are like that! 🙂 Katie

    2. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      My 3 year old will only eat broccoli if it’s cooked until it’s crispy. I call it blackened broccoli, and we’re making it tonight!

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