You can't live without beans and broccoli, so here's how to do the next best thing - hide 'em
EAT MINIMAL PRODUCT, GET MAXIMUM NUTRITION
Don't worry about eating three to five servings of vegetables a day. That's one of those statistical rules that makes as much practical sense as having 2.5 kids. It's not the quantity as much as the nutritional quality in this quota that counts. Pick and prepare your pro-duce wisely and you can eat fewer vegetables, because every mouthful will be nutritionally packed. Here's how to make sure' you do it right.
No matter how cheap it is, don't be tempted to purchase a case of fresh vegetables at the Giant Supermarket. After chilling for a few days in your fridge, most will have lost a sub-stantial amount of nutrients. So unless you're going to eat them immediately, buy frozen ones instead. "Vegetables are usually frozen within a few hours of harvest, so the nutritional quality can actually be better than fresh," says Diane Barrett, Ph.D., an associate pro-fessor of food science and technology at the University of California at Davis. Canned vegetables are fine if you're stocking a bomb shelter for your militia buddies, but they lack flavor, and the heat of the canning process destroys B vitamins.
When you're in the super-market produce aisle, tear off one of those plastic bags and stuff it with the brightest colored vegetables you see.
Canned vegetables are fine if you're stocking a bomb shelter for your militia buddies, but they lack flavor, and the heat of the canning process destroys B vitamins.
Vibrant col-ors usually correspond with more vitamins, says Anne Dubner, R.D., L.D., a nutrition consultant. This means go easy on iceberg lettuce, celery and cucumbers, and load up on carrots, tomatoes, sweet red peppers and sweet potatoes. They're higher in vitamins like A and C. Or go for darker shades of your greens. Romaine lettuce, for example, has nearly seven times the vitamin C and twice the calcium of its paler iceberg cousin.
DISCOVER RAW POWER
Like an aged single malt, fresh vegetables are better enjoyed straight up, no chaser. If you want to ruin perfectly good produce, just add water. "When you cook in water, the water-soluble B and C vitamins are leached out," says Barrett. Anywhere from 33 to 90 percent of the vitamin C typically ends up at the bottom of the pot. And a 15-minute boiling will also knock out a lot of the flavour, says Dubner. Snap peas and cauliflower are examples of vegetables usually served cooked, but they taste better and are more nutritious raw.
FLASH 'EM (WHEN NO ONE'S LOOKING)
'Flash boiling' is one of the fastest and healthiest ways to cook vegetables. Just bring a pot of water to a rolling boil, add vegetables, count to 10, and then drain them. This softens vegetables a bit but preserves much of the vitamin and mineral content. Steaming or microwaving your vegetables will also make them more palatable without sapping their nutrients. "They're good cooking choices because both let you cook in a minimal amount of water," says Barrett. Or try stir-frying them for some variety.
DISGUISE YOUR VEGETABLES
Your nephew who smothers his brussels sprouts fin ketchup is on to something. He's consuming the same vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre as everyone else, but without gagging. Think of it as the difference between drinking gin straight or with some tonic and lime. Both will produce the desired effect, but one keeps you coming back for more.
FIND A GOOD HIDING PLACE
It's an old trick, but good one. Chop or shred vegetables and add Ithem to dishes that will hide their flavour. Put spinach in chilli, mushrooms in macaroni and cheese, artichokes on pizza, peppers in Omelettes. And when you make a sandwich or burger, dress it with tomatoes, lettuce, onions Viand peppers, and then smother everything with etchup, mustard or low-fat mayo. More pungent vegetables, such as onions and garlic, can be ghopped fine and dumped into spaghetti sauce. ►BATTER UP
Pick some mild-tasting vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini and squash, and cut them into strips. Spread on some low-fat mayo, roat them with bread crumbs and bake at a low temperature. (The low heat will minimise Vitamin loss.) Dip them in a marinara sauce for a healthful alternative to mozzarella sticks. You can also cut sweet potatoes, turnips and tapioca into thin slices, season them and bake as Vegetable chips.
Like oatmeal, some vegetables were seemingly never meant to be eaten plain. Try topping slightly bitter ones, such as spinach, with a little brown sugar or a honey glaze. On bland produce like summer squash, put some barbecue sauce, hot sauce or soy sauce. Prepare the worst taste offenders Cajun style.
► DIP THEM
Store a bag of washed and cut vegetables in a sealable plastic bag in your refrigerator. (If it's too much work to cut them yourself, cheat by getting them from the super-market salad bar.) When you want a snack, skip the nachos, and dip the veggies in salsa instead. Or use onion dip, low-fat cheese spread, or your favourite salad dressing. Some of the best dippers are sugar snap peas, carrot sticks, sweet pepper wedges and broccoli florets.