Thursday, September 30, 2010

Eat them--or else! Eight quick, easy and tasty ways to prepare vegetables.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a report that only 26% of American adults eat vegetables three or more times a day.  This comes at a time when the government just recently upped its nutrition guidelines--recommending that people eating a 2000 calorie eat 4 1/2 cups of vegetables a day.  A recent New York Times article explored why people do not eat vegetables despite the health benefits, the push to do so by doctors and the government, and the availability of convenience vegetables in ready to steam bags.  The response--vegetables just do not taste good. I respectfully disagree.

Well--maybe I am a freak of nature, but I love vegetables (brussel sprouts are my favorite). So, here are a few of my favorite ways to prepare veggies. Most of the following methods are quick and easy and do not involve steaming or drowning the vegetables in cheese.  When sauteeing or baking--I operate on the premise that less is more.  Vegetables are gross when they are over-cooked and mushy, so avoid this.

1) If it is green--it will more than likely taste good sauteed or baked with a little bit of salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh lemon juice.  This works especially well with green beans, aspargus and brussel sprouts.

2) Sautee green beans or sliced zucchini in a little bit of olive oil, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Toss in grape or cherry tomatoes whole and sautee them for about three minutes towards the end.  The tomatoes roast in their skins and are very flavorful.  Sometimes to add a little bit of zip--I use a dash of red pepper flakes as well.

3)  Sautee green beans or asparagus in olive oil, salt and pepper.  When you have about a minute left, add chopped parsley, lemon juice and parmesean cheese.  If you don't have any parsley--the plain parmesean works. 

4) Take your favorite green vegetable, a little bit of olive oil, maybe a little salt and pepper and bake it in the oven with your favorite spice blend.  Penzey's Spices has some great ones--but just a little bit of Italian seasoning can go a long ways.

5) Peel and slice sweet potatoes french fry style and bake them in a 400 degree oven with thyme, salt, pepper and a teeny tiny amount of cayenne pepper for about 40 minutes. 

6) Cut tomatoes in wedges and toss them in a little red wine vinegar and olive oil.  Add a little feta cheese or maybe some black olives. 

7) Stir fry any combination of bell peppers, brocolli, cauliflower, onions, mushrooms, pea pods or carrots in a little bit of teriyaki or general tso sauce.

8) Dip raw veggies in a little bit of hummus, ranch or plain greek yogurt flavored with your favorite spices.

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