Julie Whittington, RD

Healthy tips from a Registered Dietitian

New ways to get vegetables into your diet

Are you tired of the same old vegetable side dishes you serve your family?  Know you need vegetables but unsure how else to prepare them?  Do you pass over all the “other” veggies at the supermarket, out of habit?

Well, now is the perfect time to mix up your vegetable repertoire!  It certainly extends beyond raw carrots, steamed broccoli and garden salads.  And, since vegetables are one of the most healthful things we can feed our bodies, mixing up your routine can bring positive health benefits to you and your family.

Begin with a recipe.  Choose one that includes vegetables you are unaccustomed to purchasing on a weekly basis.  Make it seasonal to improve your chances of finding fresh produce (and hopefully even local produce!)  This may mean picking up a magazine with seasonal recipes, such as Cooking Light or Eating Well, or looking for ideas online.

To get started, consider the following recipes, made with nutritious and delicious vegetable ingredients: 

  • Use baby kale, instead of regular lettuce, in your pre-dinner salad.  The key to kale in salad is to remove the center ribs and stems and finely chopping the leaves (try slicing in thin strips).  Additionally, if you toss the kale with an acidic dressing (such as a lemon vinaigrette) and let sit for about 3 minutes, this will help wilt the tough leaves, leaving them perfectly delicious!  Top the salad with shaved Parmesan, a pinch of salt (optional) and pine nuts.
  • Try asparagus in one-dish meals such as risotto, pasta, quiche or shrimp stir-fry or on veggie platters. When planning to use in a quick-cook dish like stir-fry or placing out on a chilled vegetable platter, blanch the asparagus in boiling water for about 2 minutes(it will turn a bright green color,) then quickly remove to a bowl of ice water – this helps halt the cooking process.  This will help soften the stems.
  • Broccoli slaw makes the perfect accompaniment to whatever you throw on the grill.  Look for pre-made cut, raw broccoli slaw in the lettuce section.  Dole makes a version with broccoli, carrots and red cabbage.   Then combine with your favorite dressing.  Dole recommends mixing in poppy seed dressing, chopped granny smith apples, halved red seedless grapes, orange segments and toasted slivered almonds.  Garnish with fresh green onion.
  • Pack sugar snap peas in zip top baggies and pop into a lunch box – they make a great snack or side dish.
  • Try leeks for a twist on onions.  Martha Stewart has a great recipe for Sauteed Apples and Leeks.  She serves hers with pork tenderloin.  Go to www.marthastewart.com to find the recipe.

When you are at the store, investigate the vegetable section more closely – there are endless new ideas that await you!


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