There’s no better time than summer to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.
Whether you’re planting your own garden, enjoying the range of seasonal local produce at a farmer’s market, joining a community-supported farm farm, or venturing out to pick berries at a local farm, the possibilities are endless.
But sometimes we like the idea of eating more vegetables and we don’t know where to start.
Spectrum Health Dietitian Angela Fobar is here with three delicious, nutrient-dense vegetables to try today, plus simple directions to get started.
It’s true: kale makes some people nervous.
Some find it bitter. Some have never tried it but assume they won’t like it. And some just don’t know what to do with it.
But if there’s one vegetable Fobar would love you to try this summer, it’s kale. Considered a cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage), it packs so much nutritional power it’s often called a super vegetable.
Among the benefits of cruciferous vegetables like kale, Fobar said, they can lower your risk of cancer, reduce inflammation in your body, can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and contain valuable nutrients including vitamin. A, vitamin C and folic. acid.
So where do you start to incorporate kale into your diet?
“People don’t realize the diversity of cooking with kale,” Fobar said. “It can be used anywhere. Even if you don’t like it as a star, there are a few different ways you can still use it.
For starters, Fobar said, cut off the leaves and discard the stalk.
Then you can cut the leaves into small pieces and mix them with a green salad or a grain salad (like quinoa or farro). If you want to use kale as the main ingredient in a salad, Fobar suggested coating it with olive oil to help break down the leaves and make it soft, rather than bitter and chewy.
You can also add kale to soups, smoothies, and omelets.
To make them the star of a dish, roast kale crisps or simply sauté them on the stovetop with olive oil, salt, pepper and freshly squeezed lemon juice, said. Fobar.
2. Brussels sprouts
Many people think they hate Brussels sprouts, Fobar said, because they might have been served the boiled, bitter version that many home cooks have made in the past.
“There is a reason for this,” Fobar said. “When you boil them, it releases sulfur which gives it a bitter flavor. It goes away if you cook them properly.
The best ways to prepare Brussels sprouts are by roasting or broiling them in the oven or sautéing them in a pan. You might want to cut them in half, giving them more exposure to the heat, she said. You can also grate raw Brussels sprouts on a salad.
And don’t be afraid to season, perhaps with olive oil, spices, honey or maple syrup.
“When we’re trying new things or getting kids to be more adventurous, it’s important to use seasonings,” she said. “Not that we have to go crazy with butter or excessive amounts of cheese, but don’t be afraid to season. “
Instead of turning to the salt shaker, salt-free versions of vegetable seasoning are available in the grocery store’s spice aisle, and you can sprinkle them on just about anything, Fobar said. You can also make your own at home.
This vegetable is probably familiar to most people, but Fobar said he has reached new heights lately with the spiral version, called zoodles. That’s right, zucchini noodles.
“People are becoming more comfortable with zoodles as a replacement for noodles,” Fobar said. “They taste great and they can be a lot of fun that way.”
Another use for zucchini is to shave and freeze it for use as an ingredient in bread to reduce carbohydrate content. To roast in the oven, cut it into strips and sprinkle with lemon and pepper seasoning, Fobar suggested. Or coat it with panko breadcrumbs, drizzle with olive oil and bake.
And here’s a Fobar family favorite (yes, their kids love it): zucchini pizzas.
“Another thing you can do if your zucchini gets really big, which always happens because they seem to grow overnight, is cut them into pieces,” she said. “Put pizza sauce on the pieces, choose other fun toppings.”
Then roast it in the oven for delicious mini pizzas.
“We want our kids to eat more vegetables, and it’s a really fun way to get excited about vegetables,” she said.
The more vegetables, the better
Fobar also reminds everyone this summer, when they might not want to turn on the oven or stove, to remember that raw vegetables are great.
“The most nutritious form is when we eat them raw,” she said. “Go for those raw vegetables.”
Carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, cucumbers, celery, tomatoes, peppers and more are all excellent served raw.
“Peppers are probably one of my favorites,” she said. “They are very kind and sympathetic.”
They also have more vitamin C than even some citrus fruits. A medium-sized bell pepper contains 169% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C for an adult.
Fobar leaves you with another family favorite summer treat: Watermelon Pizza on the Grill. Slice your watermelon like a round pizza slice and grill it. Remove from the grill and top it with tomatoes, feta cheese and balsamic glaze, or whatever you fancy. Serve it as a side dish or as a dessert.
She encourages everyone to find their own way to increase their intake of summer vegetables and remember that when it comes to vegetables, more is always better.