What’s in the Cupboard?
Eat Your Veggies!
How many servings of vegetables are we supposed to eat each day? What constitutes a serving? Is an avocado a vegetable or a fruit? What about tomatoes? So many questions! The great (and healthy) news is that, with the myriad of vegetable choices available, there are sure to be choices that we not only will eat, but can actually enjoy. Let’s take a look at some ways to get extra vegetable power in our everyday meal choices.
The USDA has determined that 3-5 servings of vegetables per day is the optimum amount for good health (www.usda.gov, “Using the Food Guide Pyramid” publication). “I don’t like vegetables,” you say. Sure you do. You just don’t realize it yet.
One great choice is spaghetti squash as a stand-in for pasta. It has a very mild flavor and can be substituted for angel hair pasta in some of your favorite dishes. A one cup serving offers 3% of the RDA of vitamins A and C, in addition to calcium and iron, with zero fat*. You will feel a lot better about that plate of scampi if you’re cutting your net carbs down to a very respectable 8g per serving*. Or how about stuffing your vegetables? Hollowed out zucchini, chayote squash, and bell peppers make a great main or side dish with a fancy presentation. This is also a great way to encourage portion control since each serving comes in its own individual, edible bowl. You can stuff them with whatever you fancy, from savory meat and rice fillings to herb-laced vegetarian offerings like a tofu and tomato ragout. Try making your veggies part of the stuffing by adding chopped and sautéed asparagus, haricot vert (you know…green beans!), or Brussels sprouts to couscous or brown rice.
Don’t forget to mix those colors! Green, yellow, orange…the more colors in your veggie rainbow, the more balanced your diet. Dark green leafies (like spinach, collards and kale) pack serious vitamin A and K power*, while your yellows (squash, beans and corn for instance) offer opportunities for folate and minerals such as magnesium and potassium*.
Want to wake up your vegetables? Fruits and nuts are not just for trail mix. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice right before serving can be just the ticket, or try making an orange juice and balsamic vinegar reduction to drizzle over your everyday greens. Sliced almonds are well known for jazzing up a bowl of green beans, but walnuts, pecans and pine nuts are also great additions.
If cooked vegetables just don’t float your boat, put raw veggies in your salads and sandwiches. Fresh spinach goes well on a tuna sandwich in the place of the usual iceberg lettuce (and many restaurants can and will make this switch for you upon request). Add broccoli, celery, carrots, and red bell peppers to a chopped salad and toss with your favorite vinaigrette. The more ideas you try and the more creative you get, the more you will learn to not just like, but love your veggies. Better health can be achieved one fresh, green bite at a time.
*Nutrition data from www.nutritiondata.self.com.
Try a new way to eat your veggies and let me know how you liked it at [email protected]