If you’re like most Americans, you have a love-hate relationship with vegetables. Okay, fine. Hate-hate. Maybe you grew up eating nothing but withered veggies from a can. Maybe you were forced to eat everything on your plate, including the Brussels sprouts that tasted like dirty gym socks. But take heed because veggies don’t have to be gross to be good for you. Read on for the top three tips for meeting your daily veggie quota. And get ready to fall in love with vegetables for the very first time.
Taste the rainbow
Vegetables are one of the most nutrient-rich foods you can eat. They are an important source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. With countless nutritional benefits, they are vibrant and versatile and can be used to brighten up any cuisine.
Brightly colored vegetables contain beta-carotene and other phytonutrients, which prevent cell damage in the human body. Phytonutrients also fight against heart disease, stroke, cancer and other chronic diseases. If you’ve never warmed up to veggies, try some of the most colorful ones such as sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, pumpkins, tomatoes, red peppers, red onions and spinach. You might be surprised at the array of mouth-watering flavors.
Keep the crunch
The first rule for veggie preparation is the following: Don’t overcook them. Many veggies taste best raw or cooked just slightly where they still retain a healthy crunch. For example, if you are preparing some broccoli and carrots to eat with your pasta, don’t chop them up and toss them in to simmer with the sauce until they wither away into nothingness. Keep them apart and steam them for just a couple of minutes. To retain the most nutrients and flavor, veggies should still keep their original color and have a crisp texture.
Mix it up
To ease into your newfound relationship with vegetables, try adding them into dishes you already love. Toss some onto your favorite pasta dish, sprinkle them on pizza or add a few into your favorite chicken stir-fry. Layer pieces of zucchini and yellow squash in your signature lasagna. Add some extra veggies to your chicken noodle soup. Try at least one new vegetable each night in your dinner salad.
You can even sneak a few veggies into dishes without a noticeable change in the final product. Try adding puréed squash into your favorite mac and cheese recipe. Or grate some zucchini, onions and garlic into your taco meat. Blend up some green and red peppers in the food processor and add to your favorite spaghetti sauce. The possibilities are endless!
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