From our childhood, we’ve all heard the advice to eat our vegetables. That timeless wisdom has been modernized into the catchy slogan, ‘eat the rainbow.’ Incorporating colorful foods into our diet brings us a plethora of essential vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals that contribute to our well-being. Most vegetables are naturally low in calories, fat, and gluten. However, when it comes to consuming more vegetables, there’s one crucial consideration: how they interact with the medications we might be taking. It’s advisable to consult with your doctor to ensure that the vegetables and foods you enjoy won’t affect your medication regimen.
For maximum nutritional benefit, fresh vegetables are the top choice as they contain more nutrients and fewer additives. Frozen vegetables, particularly those without sauces, are convenient alternatives, especially for those dealing with arthritis. Canned vegetables, on the other hand, pose more challenges due to the salt, sugar, and additives they often contain, which can be problematic for individuals with heart issues and diabetes.
Preparing Delicious and Healthy Vegetables
Here are some tips for preparing delicious and healthy vegetable dishes that infuse more color and vitality into your diet:
Roasting Sweet Potatoes and Other Vegetables
Roasting vegetables elevates their flavors, and sweet potatoes are a prime candidate for this technique. Preheat your oven to 450°F, toss cubed sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt (or a salt substitute), and pepper, then spread them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender and nicely browned, which usually takes about 35-45 minutes. Don’t forget to toss them occasionally to ensure even cooking. You can also experiment with various vegetable combinations like butternut squash and shallots, or green beans, onions, and fingerling potatoes. Additionally, you can use the roasted vegetables to create a delicious soup by blending them with a little broth or water. If you have arthritis or find it challenging to chop vegetables due to shaky hands, look for pre-cut options in your grocer’s produce section.
Cooking Asparagus and Other Vegetables
For enhanced flavor, preserved nutrients, and a reduction in mushiness, consider blanching your vegetables. This technique involves briefly immersing the vegetables in boiling water until their color becomes vibrant and then rapidly cooling them. It’s particularly beneficial for asparagus and also works well with broccoli, cauliflower, or green beans. Blanched vegetables can make fantastic additions to salads. To blanch asparagus, add about half an inch of water to a frying pan and bring it to a boil. Trim the bottom of the asparagus stalks and carefully place them in a single layer in the pan using tongs. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until the asparagus turns bright green. Afterward, drain and cool them under running water, then sprinkle with lemon juice, salt (or a salt substitute), and pepper.
Enhancing Mashed Potatoes
Revitalize your favorite mashed potato recipe with creative substitutions. Try replacing half of the potatoes with sweet potatoes and continue with your usual recipe. For an extra burst of flavor, replace one-quarter of the potatoes with fennel bulbs. To prepare fennel, trim off the stalks and slice the bulb into thin pieces. Boil it along with the sliced potatoes until both are tender. Drain, then mash or process as you typically would.
Today, with the wide variety of vegetables available, it’s easier than ever to incorporate them into your diet and truly savor their flavors. If you’re looking for more ideas tailored to your specific health needs and taste preferences, consider seeking a referral from your doctor to a nutritionist. Bon appétit and enjoy your journey to a healthier, more colorful plate!