We’ve heard it on repeat since we were kids, “eat your vegetables”. It’s a no brainer that vegetables are good for us. But it can be challenging to eat the 3 to 5 cups a day recommended. Our Village dietitian, Jamie Miller, shares the benefits of prioritizing vegetables and also provides ten delicious vegetable recipes that will get you excited to fill your plate with some of nature’s most nourishing foods.
Fiber Filled Wonders
Most individuals don’t eat the recommended 25-35 gram of fiber per day as we should. But every vegetable is full of this key nutrient, so by filling your plate with veggies, you’ll be closer to hitting your goal. Artichokes, dark leafy greens, broccoli, and winter squash are some of the highest fiber options. Why bother to pack in the fiber? Fiber’s benefits range from regular digestion, lower cholesterol, weight control, regulated blood glucose level, and even mental health improvements.
Vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that help your body fend off inflammation. This in turn can help fight against a host of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The key is to eat a range of colors when picking your produce since the different colored pigments of the produce provide unique nutrients. Yellow and orange veggies are high in carotenoids, red options are rich in lycopene and anthocyanins, purple and blue produce are packed with phenolic flavonoids, while green vegetables contain lutein and zeaxanthin.
Micronutrients for Total Health
The vitamins and minerals that vegetables contain are crucial for total health. The list of all the different nutrients that veggies contain and their benefits is quite lengthy, but here’s a few to motivate a full plate of veggies. Potassium (in potato, greens, mushrooms, etc.) helps kidneys filter sodium out more efficiently to reduce blood pressure. Vitamin K (in leafy greens, broccoli, etc) prevents calcium from building up in your arteries to lower heart disease. Folate (in asparagus, leafy greens, broccoli, etc) helps produce red blood cells and reduces cancer and depression, especially in children. Zinc (shiitake mushrooms, green peas, etc) and vitamin C (bell pepper, tomatoes, etc)aids in immunity and wound healing. Vitamin A (sweet potatoes, carrots, etc) helps protect the eyes and skin. The list goes on, but one thing is for sure… vegetables will help your whole body be the healthiest it can be!
Tasty Recipes to Treat Your Body Well
While their countless benefits may motivate you to fill your cart with vegetables, we have to make sure those veggies will taste amazing for us to actually eat them. With some creativity and exciting flavors, you can make the produce on your plate be cravable and the star of your mealtime.
Smashed Cucumber Salad
- 8 mini cucumbers or 2 english cucumbers
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 pinch of sugar
- 2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos, tamari, or low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tsp honey
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ½ lime, juiced
- A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Halve the cucumbers, then cut into pieces about 1 to 2 inches long. Use the bottom of a glass or meat tenderizer to gently smash each piece once. Place all the cucumber pieces in a large strainer, set over a bowl or in the sink. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and sugar, and toss the cucumbers. Let the cucumbers sit for 30 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, sesame oil, coconut aminos, honey, garlic powder, lime juice and red pepper flakes. After 30 minutes, drain the cucumbers and place them in a large bowl. Add in the sliced avocado, and pour on the dressing. Toss well to combine, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and serve immediately!
Cauliflower “Potato” Salad
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets OR 3lb frozen cauliflower florets
- 6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
- 2 large stalks celery, diced
- ½ large red onion, diced
- ½ cup chopped dill pickle (or dill pickle relish)
- ¼ cup avocado oil mayo
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp mustard
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Steam cauliflower until fork tender—about 12 minutes. Remove cauliflower from steamer and run under cold water to stop cooking. If using frozen cauliflower, microwave until defrosted and drain water. Combine cauliflower in a large mixing bowl with the chopped eggs, celery, red onion and dill pickle. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, Greek yogurt, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over cauliflower mix, and toss to coat. Cover and chill for at least an hour before serving.
Moroccan Spiced Roasted Carrots
- 12 ounces small carrots, trimmed
- 2 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp plain greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup chopped toasted pistachios
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss together trimmed small carrots, olive oil, ground cumin, paprika, ground cinnamon, and kosher salt in a bowl. Place carrots on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until tender, about 15 minutes. Combine yogurt and lime juice in a bowl. Place carrots on a platter; drizzle with yogurt mixture, chopped toasted pistachios, and 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro.
Asian Broccoli Slaw
- 4 cups broccoli slaw or coleslaw mix
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 3 tbsp peanut/almond butter (or 3 tbsp powdered peanut butter + 2 tbsp water)
- 3 tbsp liquid aminos or light soy sauce
- pinch of dried garlic and ginger (optional)
- 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Sriracha, to taste (optional)
- 3 tbsp honey or monk fruit
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, or thinly sliced almonds
Combine first 6 ingredients for the salad in a large bowl. Make the dressing by combining the next 7 ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir until the peanut butter is dissolved (if your nut butter is not soft enough to stir, microwave it for 30 seconds, or until it is more liquid before adding to dressing). Add dressing to a large bowl and toss until well combined.Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (the longer the dressing sits on the dressing, the better it will taste.) Top with chopped nuts just before serving. Serve chilled. Add protein such as chicken, shrimp, or tuna to create a complete meal.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter is melted, add the cabbage, salt, and pepper. Saute for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender and beginning to brown. Do not stir constantly- leaving the cabbage undisturbed for a minute or two allows it to caramelize and add flavor. Turn off the heat and stir in the apple cider vinegar. Taste and add salt, pepper and/or more vinegar to your preference. Serve warm.
Roasted Parmesan Balsamic Veggies
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Cut vegetables in slices about 1 inch in size, and place in a bowl. Drizzle balsamic vinegar on top, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss vegetables to ensure they are evenly coated. Place vegetables on the pan and roast in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and your liking of caramelization (stir vegetables after 10-15 minutes). Remove pan from the oven, sprinkle parmesan evenly over vegetables, and place pan back in the oven. Turn the oven to high broil for the last few minutes to slightly crisp the parmesan if desired. Enjoy!
Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes with Feta
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place eggplant and tomatoes in a bowl and toss with oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with oregano,garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Roast on a lined baking tray until eggplant is tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 40 minutes. Transfer eggplant and tomatoes to platter. Sprinkle with feta and fresh basil and serve.
Vegan Tahini Caesar Salad
- ¼ cup tahini
- Juice from ½ large lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp onion powder
- 1-2 tsp finely diced capers
- 2 tsp caper juice (from the jar of capers)
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1-3 tbsp warm water, to thin
- ¼ tsp salt, or to taste
- ⅛ tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 1 bunch kale, rib removed and chopped
- ½ cup roasted chickpeas
Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Place kale in a large bowl, add dressing starting with half the amount and stir together. Add additional dressing until your taste preference is reached. After adding dressing, let the kale salad sit for 30 minute, up to 4 hours to soften the kale. Sprinkle in roasted chickpeas, toss, and serve.
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Lightly coat a skillet with cooking spray. Cook onion over medium heat til transparent (about 5 minutes). Add spinach. Cook until thoroughly heated (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients, then stir to combine. Transfer to a 1 1/2-quart microwave-safe bowl (or baking dish) and bake or microwave until warmed through right before serving. Serve with sliced veggies, whole grain crackers, or baked chips.
Roasted Red Pepper Dip
- One 15 oz can low-sodium cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- One 7 oz jar roasted red peppers drained
- ¼ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 3 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp lemon juice, about 1/2 medium lemon
- 2 garlic cloves peeled and left whole
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place all ingredients into a food processor. Blend until pureed and smooth. Taste and add salt and lemon to flavor preference. Serve with sliced vegetables, crackers, or grilled protein. Can serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to enjoy