Five Easy Ways to Get Your Proper Serving of Vegetables

The USDA recommendations is  5 servings of vegetables a day. As we move from Spring into Summer it’s a great time to start taking their advice.  Fresh produce is plentiful at the farmers’ markets and local supermarkets and is arguably tastier, more nutritious and just what we need at the time of the year when it’s in season.  But we are not eating enough vegetables – except potatoes (French fries) and tomatoes (ketchup).  
In our fast pace convenience food society it takes some work to figure out getting 4 to 5 servings of vegetables a day. A few ideas on vegetables and how to prepare them can make it easier.  Plus with many vegetables the portion control concern is not that we eat too much but too little.  So check out these five seasonal vegetables to add variety and flavor to your warm-weather diet and eat up:

1.    Okra – We know it best in gumbo, but did you know you can eat okra raw? It is loaded with health benefits like vitamins A and C plus iron, calcium, magnesium and fiber. Added benefits are no mucilage (slime) when it’s raw. For optimal taste, make sure okra is fresh and tender. Squeeze lime over it, dip it in hummus or salsa. Or just chop and toss it into a green salad. Pickled is yummy too!

2.    Zucchini — Fresh zucchini allows for tons of creativity. Eat it raw, grilled, or steamed. Try blanching and freezing thin slices in zippered baggies. Slice zucchini lengthwise and eat it raw like fries or brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and grill. Toss into a salad or serve it on the side with fish.

3.    Asparagus — Asparagus season is underway and runs through June. It is best when eaten within a couple of days of harvesting — so purchase it locally. Steaming is the most common cooking preparation but it too can be eaten raw or grilled.   Toss it with a vinaigrette, dip it in hummus. Or grill it with olive-oil lemon juice and garlic.

4.    Spring Peas – Protein doesn’t just come from animals. A serving of sweet  green garden (or English) peas contains more protein than an egg-with less than a gram of fat and no cholesterol. These legumes should be shelled and blanched in boiling water just until they turn bright green. Sprinkle with just a touch of sea salt.

5.    Green Beans – This is one vegetable where you can really taste the difference when they are fresh from the garden. Steam and toss with sliced almonds, black pepper, sea salt and lemon juice.

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