In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I’d like to challenge you to do more than just wear green; put some green on your plate as well. The USDA MyPlate Dietary Guidelines suggest that half of our plates be made up of fruits and vegetables, so I’d like to propose 5 green vegetables that everyone should try to include in their weekly meals (at least during the week of St. Patrick’s Day). I tend to be practical when it comes to everyday food choices so I selected vegetables that are available, reasonable in cost, nutritious, and can be eaten raw or cooked.
- Spinach. This leafy green is high in vitamins A, C, folic acid, and iron and the lutein may help promote good eye health. A serving size is 1 ½ cups and it only costs 40 calories. Eat it raw in salad, use it in place of lettuce on sandwiches, or serve it cooked as a topping on pizza, or with colorful vegetables in a morning omelet.
- Broccoli. This cruciferous vegetable also provides lutein and is high in vitamin C and folic acid, for just 40 calories a serving (1 medium stalk). Eat it raw with some of your favorite dressing (for the record, mine is Ranch) or add it to pasta as a colorful side dish.
- Asparagus. When this vegetable is in season, you can get fresh asparagus for a pretty good price. Energy wise, 5 spears are only 20 calories, so feel free to eat more than one serving! This vegetable is a good source of vitamin c and A and is high in folic acid. Steam it, grilled, or add it to pasta or your favorite omelet.
- Edamame. This vegetable gets the special distinction of being the only one that is a complete source of protein. Add a ½ cup serving (110 calories) to your favorite salad for a boost of protein or mix in with your favorite soup or stir-fry for extra color and nutrition.
- Zucchini. What’s not to love about a vegetable that you can grill, grate or bake for only 20 calories a serving? This vegetable is high in vitamin C and a good source of manganese which is a mineral that plays a role in metabolism and bone health. If you have kids who aren’t fans of green vegetables, add it to lasagna or try this zucchini bread recipe below.
For more information on how to store and prepare your favorite vegetables (green or other colors), visit the Produce for Better Health Foundation at http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/.