When I think of summer, I can’t help but think of it terms of the beginning of summer, the middle of summer, and the end of summer – June, July and August. Because to me, each month offers its own “best of” highlights! For June, that “best of” is all about summer veggies. As the season kicks off, you’ll find that the most nutrient-packed, best-tasting summer garden goodies abound.
I know, you already have your tried-and-true vegetable dishes. And some of you say you’re really not into vegetables. Well, I hope all that is about to change, as this newsletter is dedicated to helping you see veggies in a whole new light! I’ve gathered the best vegetable tips and tastes to help you find just ONE MORE veggie to love this summer. Why dedicate an entire newsletter to that? Because consuming just one more serving of vegetables a day is the best way to improve your overall health. A greens-rich diet can reduce your numbers if you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes, all the while helping you fight heart disease and cancer.
Would you agree that your health – your life – is worth taking another look at the power of veggies? Great! Then read on for tips and tasty recipes, and let’s get started. And please let me know which new veggie has made its way into your life this summer!
Until next month, healthfully yours,
Christine Esters, www.adventureinwellbeing.com
10 Tips and Tastes: Add More Veggies to Your Life
Studies show that diets loaded with vegetables lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a variety of other health issues. But the CDC reports that most people eat less than half of the recommended daily servings. So how do you add more veggies to your life? Try these tips and tastes, and you’ll not only add more veggies, you’ll feel the benefits of more fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients!
1. Prep is key. The easier it is to get to food, the more you will eat. Rinse, dry and cut-up your vegetables as soon as you bring them home. Or, purchase pre-washed and pre-cut greens and vegetables (found in your produce section). And don’t forget to go for the veggies that don’t need much prep – mini-carrots, grape tomatoes, celery sticks, asparagus, snap peas.
2. Out in front. Store veggies at the front of your fridge shelves and drawers in clear containers or bags. That way they’ll be easy to grab for an on-the-go snack, and you’ll be more likely to use them in salads, as sides, and instead of chips for snacks and dips such as hummus, guacamole and salsa. Read here for proper veggie storage to make keep them fresh longer. (Note: You can also prep and store other salad ingredients, like hard-boiled eggs, diced chicken, black beans, nuts and seeds)
3. Think outside the dish. Veggies aren’t just for lunch and dinner! They are also an incredibly healthy way to start your day. Sneak them into a breakfast omelete or scrambled eggs. Heat ½ teaspoon olive oil or ghee in a pan and toss in a couple of eggs; scramble with your choice of sautéed veggies such as mushrooms, peppers and spinach. It only takes about five minutes and you’ve got a nutrient-packed breakfast.
4. Smoothie stars. A green smoothie is another great way to get more vegetables into your day. See below for a delicious summer smoothie recipe.
5. Soup’s on. Just like smoothies, soups are one of the best ways to get your vegetables! See below for my favorite new soup recipe.
6. Farm to table. I’ve found that part of the fun of including vegetables in my meals is shopping for them at my local farmers’ markets. Not only do I get to buy the cream of the crop – literally – but there’s also a fun and festive feel among the shoppers and sellers that I look forward to. Plus, I get to see vegetables that I may never have heard of before! Look online for local farmers’ markets in your town. If you’re traveling on vacation this summer, it’s a great excursion and a fun way to get the local flavor.
7. Noodle on it. If you haven’t tried a spiralizer, you don’t know what you’re missing! A spiralizer is a fast (and fun) way to make “noodles” from zucchini, squash, carrots, and more. Top with sautéed or pureed veggies for a simple, nutritious pasta alternative.
8. Stack ‘em. It’s easier than you may think to get more veggies into your meals. Making a sandwich? Stack it with spinach leaves, tomatoes and thinly sliced cucumbers. If you’re a condiment lover looking for healthier alternatives, makeover your mayonnaise by using ripe avocado instead. Or try my new favorite – mash black beans or pinto beans in a bowl to use as a spread. Prefer cooked veggies? Try sautéed peppers, cooked chopped broccoli or sliced grilled yellow squash in sandwiches and salads.
9. Spice it up. You’ll defeat the purpose if you add loads of salt or butter to your vegetables. Instead, experiment cooking with the flavors you already like. If you are a Thai food fan, try cooking your greens with garlic, curry, sesame oil, and a little red pepper. Like Italian food? Add garlic, black pepper, basil, parsley, and oregano. Feeling the summer time vibe? Add cumin, dill, white pepper, and turmeric. The flavors you already like in your main meals translate great to vegetables.
10. Freezer friendly. Vegetables that are flash-frozen at their peak actually retain their nutrients and vitamins as well or better than fresh. Some of the best choices include chopped spinach, peas, peppers, and green beans. Keep a bag or two of vegetables in your freezer.
Just like any new habit, adding more veggies to your life takes a little time and forethought. But once you do, you’ll be adding more energy and wellness to your life!
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Lemon Artichoke Soup
This delicious summer soup uses cauliflower to make a delicious creamy soup without the cream!
• 2 TBSP ghee (healthy alternative to butter)
• ½ onion, chopped
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
• 4 artichoke hearts, chopped
• 1 head of cauliflower
• Juice of ½ - 1 lemon
• 1 tsp dried tarragon (optional)
• salt and pepper to taste
Heat ghee in large pot over medium heat. Sauté chopped onion, celery and garlic until soft. Add cauliflower and 1 cup of the chicken/veggie broth; cover to steam the cauliflower. Once cauliflower is tender, add remainder of the chicken/veggie broth. Add artichoke hearts and simmer 10 minutes. Puree soup in pot with an immersion blender. (You can also pour the soup into a blender or a bowl and use a hand mixer to blend, then return soup to pot.) Add lemon juice (and tarragon if desired) and continue heating until serving temperature. Season with salt and pepper to taste.