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Eat More … Veggies

photo courtesy of UF/IFAS ICS

photo courtesy of UF/IFAS ICS

Eat more vegetables for your health

Vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  When included as part of a well-balanced diet and a healthy active lifestyle, vegetables can help:  lower your cholesterol, reduce obesity and maintain a healthy weight, and lower your blood pressure.  Vegetables contain phytochemicals that help to lower risk of diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

What foods are in the vegetable group?

Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as being in the vegetable group.  Vegetables can be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed.

Based on their nutrient content, vegetables are organized into 5 subgroups:

  1. Dark green like broccoli or spinach
  2. Starchy like corn or potatoes
  3. Red & orange like carrots or red peppers
  4. Peas & dried beans (these can also be the protein group) like black beans or kidney beans
  5. Other like green beans and onions

*For a more inclusive list, go to:  http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/vegetables.html

Helpful tips to eat more veggies

  • Make it easy.  Pick up pre-washed bags of salad greens.  Buy bagged baby carrots or celery sticks.
  • Keep meals interesting – vary your veggie choices.
  • Buy fresh vegetables in season.  They cost less and are likely to taste their best.
  • Stock up on frozen veggies for quick and easy cooking in the microwave.
  • Try your vegetables crunchy, raw, or lightly steamed.
  • For lunch, have a main dish salad (go easy on the salad dressing).
  • Make a vegetable main dish like a soup or vegetable stir-fry.  Then add foods from the other four food groups to complement it.
  • Shred carrots or zucchini into meatloaf, casseroles, breads, muffins, and spaghetti sauce.
  • Include more green salads with your lunches and dinners.
  • For more flavor and nutrients, use pureed, cooked veggies like potatoes to thicken soups, stews, and gravies.
  • Load the veggies onto pizzas and into omelets.
  • Grilled vegetables like eggplant are terrific.  Use mushrooms, green peppers, and onions to make kabobs.

Make veggies more enticingVegetables

  • Color, color, color – orange carrots, purple shredded cabbage, red or green peppers, white cauliflower, yellow squash.  How many colors can you add?
  • Many vegetables taste great with a low-fat dip or dressing.
  • Don’t forget to add those dried beans into salads, chili, and soups.
  • Keep a see-through container of cut-up veggies up front in the refrigerator.  When you open the door, those yummy, colorful vegetables are the first thing the whole family sees.

Veggie tips for kids

  • Be the good example.  Eat vegetables with all your meals and snacks.
  • Let children choose vegetables while shopping and let them help prepare the veggies for the meal.

Vegetables on a budget

Plan meals around vegetables that go a long way.  Include veggies you can grab for quick snacks or turn into casseroles and soups that you can eat a couple of times during the week.  Buy extra vegetables when they are on sale.  Then freeze the veggies or prepare a dish to be frozen for a busy night’s dinner.  Prepare more vegetables than you need so you have leftovers.  Try substituting half the meat in a recipe with beans or vegetables.  This will reduce the fat, increase fiber, and save you money.

Super meals planned around vegetables

Stir-fried vegetables, Pasta primavera, vegetable lasagna, vegetable chili, bean soup, and baked potatoes topped with broccoli and sprinkled with grated cheese.


So, what are you waiting for?  Eat more – veggies.

Permanent link to this article: http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/fcs/2013/08/09/eat-more-veggies/

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