Enjoy a variety of veggies

November 22, 2011|Lynn Little

Eating more vegetables is an easy way to improve health, for both kids and adults, especially with the abundance of fresh vegetables available year-round. Taking advantage of the seasonal availability of fruits and vegetables makes them more affordable. Through the fall and into early winter, vegetables that are at their peak and most plentiful include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, grapes, kale, pumpkins, winter squash and yams.  

Vegetables are considered a nutritional bargain because they are loaded with natural nutrients and fiber. To make it easier to choose veggies more often, take a shortcut and buy veggies that are ready to eat. Bags of spinach and other leafy greens are pre-washed. No-chop veggies like baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, broccoli and cauliflower florets and sugar snap peas can be ready for snacks as quickly as higher calorie, less-nutritious options.  

If your choice of vegetables is limited mostly to lettuce, carrots and potatoes, it's time to expand your horizons. In the grocery store, you have an ever-expanding variety of vegetables from which to choose. The next time you go grocery shopping, make a point of buying a vegetable you have never tried before. If you're not familiar with how it can be prepared or eaten, look for an information card located in the produce aisle or ask the produce manager.  

A few vegetables you might enjoy include:  

  •  Bok choy: A variety of Chinese cabbage that consists of several white, bunched stems with thick green leaves. Bok choy is often used in stir-fry dishes, but can also be eaten raw.  
  •  Fennel (anise): This resembles a short celery bunch with feathery leaves and has a mild licorice flavor. Leaves are often added to fish stews, soups and casseroles, but can also be eaten raw in salads or used as a garnish. The bulbs and stalks can be braised, steamed or sautéed as well as added to soups.  
  •  Jicama: This root vegetable is crisp, crunchy, and slightly sweet. Can be peeled, sliced and eaten raw by itself or mixed in salads. Jicama also makes a great addition to stews and stir-fried dishes.  
  •  Kale: One of the oldest forms of cabbage and often used as a garnish, this dark, green, leafy vegetable is delicious steamed or added to soups. It's rich in vitamins A and C and a fairly good source of calcium.  
  •  Kohlrabi: This member of the cabbage family resembles a turnip, both in looks and taste. It can be used in recipes in place of turnips or peeled and eaten raw by itself or in salads.  
  •  Parsnip: This veggie looks very similar to a carrot in size and shape, but is white in color. With its mild flavor, parsnips can be eaten raw or added to soups and stews. 

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