Try vegetables in new ways

Different flavors, colors, and textures of vegetables add interest to meals and snacks.

Vegetables add so much benefit to our diet, and not only in the myriad of nutrients they provide, but also the versatility, color and texture to our meals. Red and green peppers, purple and green cabbage, tomatoes, yellow and green zucchini, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower all add different colors, textures, and flavors to our meals and snacks. Most vegetables can be eaten raw and crunchy or cooked. Even cooked vegetables can have various textures and flavors depending on how they are cooked. Many people who don’t like certain vegetables find that they like them more once they have been prepared in different ways, and for shorter times so that they still have some crunch, but not as much.

Seasonings can also make a big difference in how well we like vegetables. Vegetables sautéed in a little olive oil with garlic will have a different texture and flavor compared to vegetables that have been boiled or steamed for eight to 10 minutes. Other seasonings to try with vegetables include basil, oregano, thyme, lemon pepper blend or dill. Even cinnamon or nutmeg can add interest to some vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, squash, or rutabaga. One of the easiest ways to eat vegetables are raw in tossed salads, pasta salads or with a dip. You can find many fabulous recipes at fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org.

As the prices of foods, including vegetables, has risen during the last several months, we might be discouraged from buying them, hoping that the prices will come down. If you consider the cost in terms of cost per serving instead of cost per pound, you’ll see that most vegetables cost between 35 and 55 cents per half-cup, less than dairy or meat proteins. Canned vegetables can be a less expensive alternative, but they often have high amounts of sodium added. Frozen vegetables are usually a good buy and they are ready to cook. There is no waste of frozen vegetables because you don’t have to throw away cores, stems or peelings, and they can be kept in the freezer and used as needed.

The next time you are at the grocery store, take a closer look at the array of vegetables and consider trying one or two that you don’t usually have or haven’t yet tried. Some of these may include fennel, daikon radish, parsnips or kohlrabi. Any of them can be enjoyed by cooking, eating raw, by themselves or in combination with other vegetables or foods.

As the farmer’s markets begin to open, Michigan State University Extension says that they can be a great place to buy and try small amounts of produce you are less familiar with. The growers can also give consumers good ideas of how to prepare and eat the produce, and sometimes will even let customers try a sample before they make a purchase. Who knows, you might find a new favorite vegetable!

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