Eat Your Veggies!
8 delicious ways to eat more vegetables
No matter how many times it’s heard, the phrase “eat your veggies” is rarely welcome around the dinner table. When a craving hits your stomach late each afternoon, it’s most likely suggesting ice cream rather than broccoli. But vegetables are simple and quick to cook, and can be prepared in a variety of ways. So get out of your veggie rut – there are a number of ways to boost your vegetable intake, and it starts with boosting the flavor. These simple tips will keep you eating vegetables in new ways and offer healthy options to get creative with your meals.
1. Get It All In There! Think of vegetables as a component of a dish, rather than a side. Add snap peas, carrots or shredded cabbage to a stir fry. Toss broccoli, peppers or leafy greens with your favorite pasta dish. Make a juicy salad with a variety of vegetables and even fruits – it will put the stuff in the bag to shame.
2. Spice It Up. There is no rule saying vegetables have to be bland or boring. Take it up a notch by adding something spicy to your favorite vegetable side dish. Cayenne pepper can really add a kick to potatoes. Jalapeños can be great with corn, beans, or peppers. Red pepper flakes take broccoli, zucchini, and spinach to the next level. Or try adding chili sauce to any of your favorite veggie dishes – your tastebuds will wake right up.
3. Go Beyond Potatoes. There are more ways to enjoy creamy side dishes other than the mashed potato. Cauliflower, beans and peas can all have a similar effect. To make it even easier, use frozen vegetables. Toss them in boiling water for a few minutes, then throw them in a blender or food processor to create a silky smooth mixture. Add olive oil, garlic or cheese for extra flavor. You might even forget all about that old carb-heavy standby.
4. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth. Pumpkin is not the only vegetable making an appearance on dessert menus. Zucchini, corn, carrots, beets and sweet potatoes are just a few of the veggies that make great sweet treats. Add them to muffins, scones, pies or other desserts – tomatoes even make wonderful jam. Think of it as having your cake, and eating your veggies too!
5. Vegetable Sandwiches. Nothing could be faster, easier or a better use of leftovers. Layer thin slices of veggies such as eggplant, carrots, mushroom, peppers, onions, tomatoes or any other favorite for a quick and light snack or meal. For an even tastier treat, pair it with creamy avocado or a simple spread like hummus. It’s healthy finger food on the go!
6. Garden Fresh Flavor. Fresh herbs make everything taste like it’s right from the garden. Try classic combinations like tomatoes and basil or potatoes and chives. Or get creative with pairings such as mint and peas or cilantro and peppers. When in doubt, fresh parsley will liven up almost any vegetable dish.
7. Be Bold! Try cooking your favorite veggies in new ways. Sauté greens to bring out their flavor. Steam veggies to soften them slightly. Roast peppers or tomatoes for a sweet effect. Grill corn or onions for a delicious charred flavor. Or Bake fennel or leeks for a tender result. You might discover new things from your old favorites.
8. Keep it interesting. Don’t be afraid to try new vegetables – they will liven up your meals. Grocery stores often list advice on how to pick ripe products from the produce section – use this as an aid in your search. Or buy fresh produce at farmer’s markets, where vendors can tell you all about their various options. Either way, you’ll be bringing something new to the table.
Here’s a simple recipe that will bring great flavor and a whole lot of vegetables to your dinner table:
Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps with Snow Pea and Sun-dried Tomato Salad
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bag spinach, about 10 ounces
red pepper flakes
1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
salt and pepper
4 Portobello mushroom caps
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups snap peas, cut in half
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1. In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Sauté the shallots until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and cook until wilted. Season with red pepper flakes to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Place the artichoke hearts, ricotta cheese, and egg in a bowl. Pour the warm spinach mixture over the artichoke mixture. Stir to combine completely. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Brush the portobello mushroom caps lightly with olive oil. Place the stuffing on top of the mushrooms. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese and bake in a 400 degree oven until the breadcrumbs begin to brown.
4. Meanwhile, make the salad. Toss the snap peas and sundried tomatoes with the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with the finished stuffed mushrooms.