Thanks for the Vegetables, Mom!

I KNOW I want my kids to grow up with a love for healthy foods.  My Mom was very good at encouraging my sister and I growing up to try a lot of different things.  So in honor of my Mom and all mothers, here are some tips* for loving vegetables:

1.  Try different preparations.  My favorite fresh veggies are sweet potatoes, parsnips, squash, tomatoes, lettuce, onions and peppers, celery, and mushrooms.  From the frozen isle, I love peas, cauliflower, corn, and vegetables blends for soups and stir fry.  From the canned section, I love the multitude of cooked tomatoes: diced, sauced, stewed, flavored (go for low sodium).  The canned section is also helpful for artichokes (which my sister and I love, but hate to prepare!) and mushrooms, which don't always look fresh in the fresh section.  Salsa and guacamole are the tastiest vegetables condiments around.

2.  Progress through a vegetable you enjoy.  Our family has moved through the iceberg lettuce of the 80/90s, then on to green leaf in the early 2000's, and now LOVING fresh spinach (our daughters call it "baby leaves").  A tip on lettuce from my Aunt Barb is to ALWAYS soak your lettuce bunch separated in a sink of cold water a few minutes; the dirt will float to the bottom while the leaves remain on top.  Try out the many different varieties of mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes, etc.

3.  Have a new vegetable of the week.  You can take a favorite recipe (like lasagna or pizza) and add new veggies to it. Most recently I've had success with roasting Parsnips (a yummier French Fry!) and snacking on fresh Snap Peas (clip the ends, remove the veins, boil 3 minutes and blanch in ice water for 2; enjoy!)  Do some research to see what time of year it tastes best for more success.

4.  Add one or two new attempts to your grocery list each week, and take advantage of the season.  Here is how you can cook any type of squash this fall with only 5 minutes of work before and after it roasts:

Grab a SHARP knife and proceed with caution; the hardest part is cutting a squash into halves or quarters (after rinsing the exterior), and chop off the stem ends.  Use a metal spoon to remove the seeds and pulp, rub the flesh side with vegetable oil, then cook flesh-side down on a foil lined baking sheet at 375 F for 45-60 minutes or until fork-tender.  Once slightly cooled, scoop out the flesh discarding the skin.  Eat it, freeze it, or puree it and add it to breads, soups, or pies.  (This year we tried small "Pumpkin Pie" squash, and they were truly only edible in Pumpkin Pie!)  Acorn, Butternut, and Spaghetti are favorites at our table.

Thanks for the vegetables growing up, Mom!  And happy vegetable searching to you all.
Tomorrow: Sweet, Juicy Delicious Fruits

*This is a personal commentary on food from a Fitness Professional, and should not be used as nutritional advice.