Want to Eat Healthier? Add These Green Veggies to Your Diet
It’s easy being green. Especially when it comes to vegetables.
An article by Ashley Welch on CBSNews suggests we should include 10 servings of fruits and vegetables in our daily diet. Not an easy task in our grab-and-go, pop-and-serve, drive-through lifestyle.
And if you have a fussy eater in your house (my husband prefers the word “choosey”), preparing tasty versions of these health boosters can often be a bit of a challenge.
Fortunately, there are lots of choices in the natural food arena to satisfy the most discerning palate.
And by using a creative blend of spices and ingredients, you’ll discover new ways to bring nutritious veggies to the table — and watch them disappear.
Here are seven of my top picks, along with a few quick and easy preparation tips. Be sure to buy organic whenever possible for healthier options.
The great news about the health benefits of broccoli is spreading.
Maybe I’m optimistic, but I’ve been noticing more men in the produce aisle buying broccoli, without guilt or embarrassment. We smile at each other, nod our heads in shared acknowledgment, and confidently stock up on what is likely the most well-known of the green veggies.
Aside from its high nutrient and vitamin levels, at only 31 calories per cup, this winner contains more protein than most other vegetables. In our home, broccoli is a daily staple. In fact, I’m pretty sure my husband likes it more than I do — almost.
Toss raw broccoli into salads or include in a fresh veggie tray. Add to soups, stir fry, and rice dishes for a nutrient power punch. For a quick and delicious side, steam broccoli for a few minutes, then drizzles with lemon juice for a fresh, colorful dish.
Quick and easy bake: Combine broccoli, cauliflower, sliced carrots, and mushrooms in a bowl. Add organic chia seeds, organic dried cranberries, paprika, and pepper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive or avocado oil and toss. Spread on a baking sheet and cook at 350 degrees for 20–30 minutes.
When I first brought kale into our kitchen, lots of eyes began to roll.
I knew I’d have to be creative — even a little sneaky — in finding ways to incorporate this super-veggie into our diet. Have faith, it can be done.
Kale is a member of the cabbage family, and a close relative of broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. The most common type is called curly kale or Scots kale, with dark green curly leaves and a hard, fibrous stem. Like other leafy greens, kale is high in antioxidants including beta-carotene and vitamin C.
By the way, this is an easy one to freeze. Trim leaves from the stem and rinse well. Pack it raw in storage containers or bags for future use. When you’re ready to add a little green to soups, stir fry, rice dishes, or veggie medleys, just head to the freezer, grab a chunk of kale, break it up into small pieces, and toss it in!
I usually buy kale in large bunches to have plenty on hand. To include fresh kale in salads, chop into small pieces and toss with romaine, arugula, or spinach. Then build up your salad with cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, celery, onion, and dried fruit (raisins, dates, cranberries). Add a little lemon-vinaigrette dressing and enjoy!
Kale chips: Trim leaves from the stem and rinse well. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive or avocado oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and, for a kick, add a little chili powder. Mix together to coat, then arrange on a baking sheet. Don’t worry, the pile will shrink down as it cooks. Bake at 250 degrees until dry. Fair warning — you may want to make several trays. These don’t last long in my house!
This is a personal favorite, and I’m always looking for new ways to add zucchini to my recipes.
Sliced, diced, sticks, or shredded, there’s no limit to the imagination when it comes to this versatile veggie. Zucchini is a good source of potassium, manganese, and vitamins C and A. Serve it raw or baked/broiled/grilled as a perfect side to any meal.
Cut thick slices on the diagonal and spread on a baking sheet. Coat lightly with extra virgin olive or avocado oil and sprinkle with organic basil, chia seed, and dried red chili flakes. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes and serve as a side dish or appetizer.
Substitute wide zucchini ribbons or “spiralized” strips in place of regular spaghetti or lasagna noodles for a delicious veggie pasta.
Keep a container of zucchini in your fridge, cut into round chips, sticks, or half-moons. Add to a veggie tray and serve with your favorite dip, spread, or hummus.
4. Brussels Sprouts
I remember the first time my mom made Brussels sprouts — because I refused to eat them. They smelled funny and looked like small cabbage heads, which I didn’t like either.
Unfortunately, my father loved them, so occasionally they ended up on the dinner table — and my plate. Something told me I may as well learn to like them since they were destined to become a dinnertime staple.
Here’s the case for this often-dismissed veggie: Brussels sprouts are high in protein. With only 56 calories per cooked cup, they’re packed with vitamin K1 and C. This hearty option also contains folate, manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber, choline, copper, vitamin B1, potassium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Oven-roasting Brussels sprouts bring out their sweet, nutty flavor while diminishing the sulfurous odor and taste.
Rinse, remove loose leaves, and trim the ends. Cut the heads in half and place in a bowl with ¼ cup organic goji berries and ½ cup sliced mushrooms. Add a pinch of red chili pepper flakes, a teaspoon of organic basil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Coat lightly with extra virgin olive or avocado oil and stir. Spread on a sheet pan and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, mixing halfway through. Before serving, sprinkle with grated parmesan.
Early in our relationship, I discovered one of my husband’s favorite dishes was English Pea Salad. The problem? I didn’t have a recipe! The frown on his face still haunts me.
After a little experimentation, I hit on a winner and my husband’s occasional craving for EPS was satisfied.
Here are a few more reasons this veggie makes the list: Green peas are one of the most nutritious legume vegetables around. Rich in health-promoting phytonutrients, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, they’re not only an excellent source of folic acid and essential B-complex vitamins, but 100g of fresh peas also have just 81 calories — and no cholesterol.
Add in the benefit of soluble and insoluble fiber and you’ve got the perfect go-to adder for soups, stews, and salads.
Buy peas fresh and keep a storage container or bag in the freezer. Grab a handful to add a little color and flavor to your favorite dish or salad.
6. Green Beans
When I was young, one of our parent’s friends had a huge garden, and she always planted green beans along the fence line. The vines grew dense and high, and she often invited the neighborhood kids to “pick our vegetables for dinner.”
We’d stuff the pods in our pockets and fill our fists, then bring them home in the hopes our mothers would transform them into something magical, like chocolate pudding.
Check out the info: Green beans are low in calories and fat, and contain no cholesterol. Offering a good source of vitamins A, C, K, B6, and folic acid, they’re also high in fiber and minerals including calcium, silicon, iron, manganese, potassium, and copper.
Quick-steam green beans for about 5 minutes. This brings out their peak flavor and texture while retaining their beautiful bright green color.
Baked beans? You bet! Trim the ends and place beans in a bowl. Toss with a light coating of extra virgin olive or avocado oil. Add a little crushed garlic and lemon pepper, and spread on a metal pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20–25 minutes. Delicious!
I already know what you’re thinking.
The after-effects are, well, a little odoriferous.
According to an article from Aurora Health Care, the culprit is asparagusic acid, a compound high in sulfur and abundant in asparagus. When your body digests asparagus and breaks down asparagusic acid, it releases components that are responsible for the trademark scent. Rest assured, if you smell this veggie after eating, you are normal.
Why it’s worth it: Loaded with nutrients, asparagus is a rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens. Asparagus is one of the top-ranked vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals and is a good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, and chromium.
Asparagus is available in several sizes and colors. Personally, I like thin, green stalks for appetizers as they tend to be more tender.
Baked to perfection: Rinse and trim spears and toss with extra virgin olive or avocado oil and lemon pepper. Arrange on a piece of foil and sprinkle with organic sliced almonds. Close the foil tightly and bake or grill at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.
To include asparagus in other dishes, cut spears into 1/2” pieces and add to rice, stews, and salads. And yes, you can freeze the cut pieces in storage containers or bags, and easily grab a handful to toss into veggie medleys or soups.
It’s easy being green, especially when you brighten up your meals with these nutritious, delicious veggies!
© 2020 Jill Reid. All Rights Reserved.
5 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight
Tips for getting healthy, staying focused, and looking & feeling great — for the rest of your life.
Discover more tips and strategies for developing a positive mindset and achieving personal success in Real Life
Jill Reid is the author of Real Life, and founder of Pathway to Personal Growth and Kitchen Spirit. Her books and articles explore life, happiness, self-improvement, health, productivity, relationships, and personal success strategies for living longer and stronger through positive lifestyle choices.