Start the New Year Right with Healthy, Colorful Foods!

 

 

In any discussion or news story about a maintaining a healthy diet or body weight there is always a reference to vegetable intake.  Because of their high nutrient content, vegetables are a key component of any diet. 

Unfortunately as a nation we struggle to consume the recommended amount.  According to the 2005 CDC report only 27% American adults consume at least three servings of vegetables per day.  That rate does not seem to be improving even though we are told over and over again that we need to eat our vegetables. 

Similar to physical activity we know it is good for us, but we come up with several excuses why we avoid veggies. 

Here are some ideas to help you increase your vegetable intake and decrease the excuses.

When selecting vegetables you should consider the color and amount.  Eat a variety of vegetables weekly that are rich in different colors, including green, orange/yellow, and purple/red.  A major challenge is that many people grocery shop once a week or less, purchasing fresh produce that ends up spoiling before it gets eaten. Two ideas to prevent this is to challenge yourself to use the fresh produce in meals before using the other groceries purchased, and to supplement the fresh produce with frozen or canned vegetables.  When supplementing fresh produce with frozen or canned you want select those products that are as close to fresh as possible.  Select frozen vegetables that do not contain any sauces, and look for low sodium canned vegetables.  

 Increasing your vegetable intake will provide your body with more nutrients!  All it takes is a little creativity and your options are endless!  To get you started try some of these ideas:

     1.       Pasta Sauce

                  Sauté a variety of vegetables, add pasta sauce, and simmer.  Try bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, or zucchini.  You can do all of this while waiting for the pasta water to boil, and cooking the pasta.  If you do not like chunky pasta sauce try shredding a carrot into the sauce.   

     2.      Roasted Vegetables

                 This is a simple technique that brings out a lot of flavor in all vegetables.  Simply toss raw vegetables with a small amount of olive oil, sea salt, and ground pepper, spread out on a baking sheet, and roast.  The roast time and temperature will vary depending on the vegetable.  Less starchy vegetables such as asparagus, kale, or broccoli can roast between 325-375 degrees for 15-20minutes, stirring every 5-10minutes.  Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets can roast between 375-425 degrees for 20-30minutes, stirring every 5-10minutes.  You can always add flavor with chopped onions, herbs, or spices.  Get creative and try different vegetables, there is not a bad roasted vegetable. 

                     Roasted Squash with Mint and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds -http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Squash-with-Mint-and-Toasted-Pumpkin-Seeds-368265

     3.      Spice It Up 

                   Those of you that think vegetables are bland try out some of the following ideas. 

                     Broccolini with Spicy Sesame Vinaigrette, http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Broccolini-with-Spicy-Sesame-Vinaigrette-378346

                   Cider-Cinnamon Brussel Sprouts - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Cider-Cinnamon-Brussels-Sprouts-368306

               Green Beans with Miso and Almonds - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Green-Beans-with-Miso-and-Almonds-368276

                    Carrot, Cilantro, and Chile Slaw - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Carrot-Cilantro-and-Chile-Slaw-366449

     4.      Top It

                   The nights you are in a rush and throw in a frozen pizza or another prepared frozen dinner, stop and take two minutes to top it with some vegetables.  Some pizza favorites are bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, and spinach. 

     5.      Think ahead

               The time it takes to wash and chop up vegetables can be a limiting factor for some.  If this is true for you, on the day or night of the week you have 15 minutes to spare prepare your vegetables for the week.  Wash, chop, and store.  This will make it easy to grab some to add to your lunch or decrease the prep time when preparing a meal. 

With these easy tips you can be on your way to a healthy new year!

All recipes courtesy of www.epicurious.com. 

 

 


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