We all know vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that are important for a balanced diet and a healthy body, but sometimes it’s still a struggle to eat enough (the average adult should eat between two to three cups of vegetables daily!). Sarah Schmidt, a registered dietitian with Augusta University Family Medicine, shares these easy ways to get nutritious, heart-healthy veggies onto your plate.
Choosing: Consider cost and flavor
“Vegetables that are in season usually cost less and have more flavor,” said Schmidt.
Your local farmers market can be a great resource for seasonal produce. Select vegetables that are rich in color and aren’t bruised or damaged. Or have fun growing your own vegetables.
Frozen vegetables keep longer and can be an easy addition to meals. Choose products without added sauces to reduce saturated fat and sodium.
Canned vegetables may be less expensive than fresh and more likely to have regular sales or discounts. Look for “reduced sodium,” “low sodium” or “no salt added” for better health benefits.
Eating: Make them convenient and interesting
Raw veggies such as baby carrots, grape tomatoes and celery sticks are easy grab-and-go snacks.
“Jazz them up with a heart-healthy dip like hummus or plain Greek yogurt. Kids may enjoy making ‘ants on a log’ (peanut butter and raisins on a celery stick) or dipping vegetables such as cucumbers and crinkle carrots into low-fat ranch dressing,” said Schmidt.
Sneak chopped vegetables into favorite foods such as lasagna or macaroni and cheese, blend spinach into a fruit smoothie, or shred zucchini into quick breads.
Use cooked, pureed vegetables in soups and to thicken stews.
Grill out! Try vegetable kabobs with tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers and onions.