We all know we should be eating more vegetables. We should get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and it is important to aim for that mark.
For many of us, it’s tough to fit in that many servings. But when you do eat, look for foods that pack the most nutritious punch. Here are five veggies to get you started and how to weave them into your weekly diet:
Dark, Leafy Greens
Yes, kale really is that good for you, but so are chard, beet greens, spinach, collards, and watercress. In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s list of powerhouse fruits and veggies, leafy greens filled the top spots. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Greens are for so much more than just salads. You can puree them and hide them in smoothies, sauces or soups, or add them to rice and pasta dishes. They also can top pretty much any sandwich or burger.
The key is to choose the right flavor for what you’re making, as many greens are bitter. Spinach and romaine are great for smoothies because they have a mild flavor that hides well. Cabbage, kale, and other bitter greens work best when combined with something sweet like apples or pears.
Just the smell is enough to turn people off of this cruciferous vegetable. However, it may be time to give them another try. They brim with iron, potassium, and vitamin C.
You can easily add Brussels sprouts as a side to any meal. Try oven-roasting them with a small amount of olive oil. You can also thinly slice the sprouts and use them in a salad or as a side with other steamed veggies.
Although technically a fruit, red bell peppers are a sweet, versatile food packed with Vitamin C and minerals. Plus, the pop of color red peppers add works great with all the green you’re adding to your diet.
Your options for including these in your diet are nearly endless. Slice and dip them, stuff them, saute them, puree them as a sauce. You can add red peppers to soups, salads, sandwiches, stir-fry, pizza, pasta, tacos, chimichangas, and so much more.
This childhood staple offers vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, plus fiber and protein. Peas are delicious fresh when you can find them at your local farmer’s market, but the easiest way to eat them is from frozen. Always keep a bag in your freezer.
Peas have a mild, sweet flavor, making them easy to add to many meals. Include them in soups, add to mac and cheese, mix in rice dishes, or even puree with ricotta cheese as a pasta sauce.
Pumpkin is another versatile addition to your diet. The key here is to make sure you’re making healthy choices, not those loaded with sugar. Canned, unsweetened pumpkin contains vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber.
Try pumpkin ravioli or add to soups and chili. Blend up a pumpkin pie smoothie if you’re looking for a sweet fix. You can also make pumpkin part of breakfast by adding it to oatmeal, muffins, and pancakes. Allrecipes features 19 healthy, tasty options for pumpkin.
The USDA’s MyPlate campaign recommends filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Many nutritious veggies are green, but include foods from across the rainbow to get a variety of nutrients.