Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Eat Your Veggies!

Eat Your Veggies!

Incorporating vegetables into your diet is easy with the right tricks. Joy Bauer offers simple ways to eat more vegetables and preparation tips for maximum nutritional value.

I love just about every vegetable (except green peppers), so it saddens me when people take a pass on my favorite food group. When I ask someone why they don’t like veggies, I often find that it’s less a matter of taste and more one of confusion; lots of folks just don’t know what to do with broccoli, spinach, cabbage, cukes, and the like. If that sounds like you, I hope the following tips inspire you to visit your supermarket’s produce aisle, or better yet, a local green market or farm stand.
Eat more vegetables
In the Raw
The easiest way to “prepare” vegetables is to do nothing but wash and eat them. This doesn’t work for all veggies, of course, but it’s great for many of them. Carrots and celery are the obvious choices, but others include sugar snap peas, snow peas, cherry tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, and sliced bell peppers (I do like the red, yellow, and orange ones). If you can find it, jicama is also worth a try — it’s super-crisp, slightly sweet, and incredibly high in fiber (nearly 3 grams per half cup).
I like my raw vegetables “nude,” but you might want to pair them with a low-cal yogurt dip or some salsa. Salads and coleslaw are two more raw options, but they do require some prep time. Food manufacturers have made salad preparation easier in recent years by offering prewashed greens, but you pay more for this little luxury. If you prefer to do your own washing, consider investing in a top-notch salad spinner from Oxo or Zyliss. As for coleslaw, food processors make short shrift of the shredding step, and then it’s just a matter of adding dressing.
Some Like It Hot
If raw is not your thing, consider stir fries and vegetable-based soups as a way to pump up your veggie consumption. Broccoli, onions, mushrooms, and zucchini are a few vegetables that taste great in a stir fry, and just about anything goes when it comes to soup. You can sneak vegetables into many of your recipes, such as lasagna (consider spinach) and meatloaf (chopped onions and carrots add crunch and color). Even breakfast time can be an opportunity to get in some vegetables if you opt for an omelet made with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, or broccoli.
If you’re concerned about losing nutrients when you cook your veggies, don’t sweat it. Some vegetables actually benefit from heat, and vitamin and mineral losses can be minimized in others if you cook them correctly. For instance, carotenoids — health-promoting nutrients in carrots, tomatoes, and other red and orange vegetables — are better absorbed when subjected to a little heat. Very high temperatures, on the other hand, as well as too much water or too long a cooking time, are the biggest nutrient robbers, so avoid boiling, and don’t overcook or overheat your vegetables.

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