No need to set foot in a specialty store to take a small step toward better health in 2013. Just spend more time in the produce aisle of your local grocer. The average American consumes potatoes, tomatoes and iceberg lettuce and considers that quite satisfactory for eating their veggies. Why stop there when the vegetable family has the most to offer in diversity, with the greatest range of health benefits? Not to mention that the vegetable family is your only source of fiber.
Dividing this food group into several categories, we stand a better chance of getting a variety of nutrients in our diets. Hit Reset and Eat Green with me this year, and select from all of the categories regularly to maximize nutrition.
These are known for their cancer preventing nutrients and anti-oxidants. They break down and dissolve fats and help eliminate toxins. Choose from collard greens, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbages, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, daikon radish, and red radish.*
Roots and Tubers
These vegetables provide vitamin A, beta-carotene, minerals, fiber, anti-oxidants, and an earthy sweetness to our diets. Look for: carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips, ginger, beets, burdock, Jerusalem artichokes, sweet potatoes, and yams.*
Bulbs are known for their ability to dissolve fats and for being heart healthy. Additionally, garlic’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties make it a powerful healer. Look for garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, and shallots.*
With both winter and summer varieties, you can benefit year round from the blood-alkalinizing properties of squash. My favorite is winter squash, which contain significant amounts of carbohydrates and sugars as well as vitamin A. Choose from; acorn, kabocha, butternut, buttercup, delicata, and hubbard for winter variety, and summer are zucchini, patty pan, and yellow crookneck.*
Herbs open another whole category of vegetables that warrants its own cookbook! Used medicinally and also to enhance the flavor of your food and delight your palate. Experiment freely with fresh herbs in the summer and dried in the winter. Keep a bouquet handy on your countertop to snip into your cooking.*
* Thank you to Terry Walters and her fabulous cookbook Clean Food for this information.
Here are some simple ways to eat green in 2013….
At the Grocery Store:
Have a variety of healthy greens to have on hand for stir fry’s, smoothies, salads and soups. Greens should have good consistent color, be crisp and not wilted. I like to wash mine right away and store them in cloth vegetable storage bags so they are ready to use.
Experiment with something new and different from the produce aisle, regularly. Make sure it’s fresh!
Cascadian Farm® has an assortment of high quality, organic frozen produce to choose from. Take some home with you when your fresh supply gets low or for the purpose of throwing a quick meal together.
If you’re short on time and thats what keeps you from eating more veggies, buy the pre-prepped package of stir-fry in the produce section. Trader Joe’s is great about having some options for you.
Speaking of Trader Joe’s, they have a variety of small bags of organic greens to have at the ready. Choose from Arugula, Kale, Romaine and Spinach. Small bags are preferred. They stay fresh and are consumed quickly.
Saute spinach, kale or swiss chard and add to scramble eggs, or place a fried egg or two on a bed of cooked greens.
Make a vegetable stir fry base with southwest flavors for taco’s and fajita’s
Add a pound of steamed broccoli to your favorite chinese take out dish
Munch on a fresh, cleaned bag of sugar snap peas
Add chopped diced bell pepper and halved grape tomatoes to tuna salad
During the last 3 minutes of cooking pasta, add some broccoli, carrots, and asparagus. Drain and rinse with cold water. Add a dressing or sauce of choice.
Stuff your blender with a mix of greens, frozen fruit and a burst of citrus. Blend with filtered water to make nourishing Green Smoothies. A tablespoon or 2 of flax seed oil ramps up the Omega 3’s without altering the flavor.
Be stocked with a variety of onions, carrots and celery for a base for great soups. Add a large handful of greens to right before serving.
Before cooking up a pot of your favorite whole grain, saute garlic, onions and carrots (cut small) in a small amount of olive oil. Proceed with cooking whole grains as per usual.
Last garden season I dried 15 bunches of mixed greens along with some onions. leeks, green peppers and parsley. After being pulverized in the food processor, the powder keeps well in a cool dry place. I add it to cooked pasta, potatoes, and scrambled eggs.
Toss a variety of root vegetables (cut in chunks) in your crock pot with chopped garlic, olive oil, sea salt and about 1/2 cup stock. Cook for 4 hours on high or 7 hours on low.
Serve raw veggies with hummus for dipping as an appetizer or for after school snacks.
Be creative; think of the many ways you can prepare vegetables and mix it up…you can serve them raw, roasted, sauteed short or long, baked covered, simmered in soup, pureed as a sauce, or with fruit in a smoothie. The possibilities are endless.
At The Restaurant:
Order a side salad with some grilled lean protein to top it off, rather than a sandwhich.
When dining at an Asian restaurant look for the main dishes that have the most fresh veggies in them.
Instead of potatoes, rice or pasta, ask for a double side of the seasonal vegetables or extra salad.
This marks my 100th post with At My Kitchen Table. I am so grateful for your readership as I have just turned over to 31,000 views! I am reminded often that being healthy allows us to serve others more effectively. Thank you for joining me in this journey and let us encourage one another to hit reset and eat green in 2013.
A healthy New Year to you, from our clan to yours,