Quick and delicious veggies

parmesan asparagusVegetables—we know they’re good for us, so why aren’t we eating them?

A diet rich in produce can impact your health in several ways. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and other substances your body needs to function effectively. They are low in fat and calories, yet filling. Plus, study after study indicates that fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  states that only 27 percent of adults are eating the recommended amount of vegetables a day (three or more servings). The number drops to 13 percent among teens.

For those of you who have been avoiding vegetables because of the taste or find them inconvenient to prepare, here are three easy recipes to up your daily intake of the healthiest food on the planet.

Kale Chips

Need: bunch of kale, olive oil, garlic salt

Kale provides an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and K and is considered a good source of copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus. Choose bunches with dark small to medium sized leaves (avoid brown or yellow colored). Store in plastic bag in refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.

When you’re ready to prepare, tear sections of the leaf away from the rib (hard part that runs through the center of the leaves). Then, wash the leaves in large bowl of cold water. It’s easy for dirt to hide inside the folds so be thorough. Preheat oven to 290 F. Arrange kale leaves in a single layer on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a little bit of garlic salt, then toss so that all of the leaves are covered with the mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes. The leaves near the edge of the baking sheet get crispy faster, so you may want to check about half way through (at about 10 minutes) and possibly rearrange on the sheet so it cooks evenly. Remove from oven when the leaves are crisp.

Parmesan  Asparagus

Need: bunch of asparagus, olive oil, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, lemon juice

Asparagus is a good source of dietary fiber, folic acid and Vitamins C, E and B6. It has also been used to to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections, digestive issues, kidney stones and other medical conditions. Some people (about a quarter of the population) may notice that eating asparagus causes their urine to smell “funny.” This is due to the sulfurous amino acids in asparagus that break down during digestion. This reaction takes place in all people but only some have the gene that allows them to detect the odor.

Preheat oven to 400F. Wash asparagus. Remove hardy part of each asparagus spear. (To do this, take hold of each end of the spear and gently bend until it snaps naturally where the tender section begins) Place the spears into a baking pan (I use an 8 x 8 inch glass pan) and drizzle with olive oil and parmesan. Toss so that all of the spears are covered in the cheesy mix. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, then remove from oven. Add salt and pepper and squirt 3 tablespoons of lemon juice onto the cooked spears.

Beet Soup (Borscht)

Need: can of shoestring beets, can of beef broth (10 1/2 oz), shredded cabbage (1 cup), minced onion (half of a large or one small), sugar, lemon juice, sour cream (optional)

Borscht is a popular Eastern European soup that is made with beets and other vegetables. It can be prepared several different ways and eaten hot or cold. The beets in this super soup deliver strong doses of potassium, magnesium, fiber, phosphorus, iron, beta-carotene, beta-cyanine, folic acid, betaine and Vitamins A, B and C.

This is the quickest recipe I have found to make borscht. Heat beef broth, beets, shredded cabbage, minced onion and sugar (about one teaspoon) to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Stir in one teaspoon of lemon juice. Garnish with sour cream.

Fit, Fed and Faithful

Kimberly A. Laux, MA, is a freelance writer for several print and online publications and a group fitness instructor certified through the American Council on Exercise. She currently teaches in the Communication & Visual Arts Department at the University of Michigan in Flint.

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