June is National Fruit & Vegetable Month

June 16, 2014

   Vegetables truly are one of the best sources of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. You should be getting at least three servings of vegetables daily, but I encourage you to eat even more than that, since they’re so good for you.

   Remember: starchy veggies like corn, peas, potatoes (white and sweet), and winter squash contain more calories than water-rich, nonstarchy vegetables.

   One of the great things about eating your daily servings of vegetables is they come with an array of nutrients, including the B vitamins folate, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6; antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene, quercetin, and anthocyanins; and countless other phytonutrients.

   Most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories. They don't have cholesterol either. You should be getting 2 servings of fruit daily and that does include juices. Fruits are sources of many essential nutrients which are underconsumed, including potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C, and folate (folic acid). Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Fruit sources of potassium include bananas, prunes and prune juice, dried peaches and apricots, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and orange juice.

   Dietary fiber from fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber is important for proper bowel function. It helps reduce constipation and diverticulosis. Fiber-containing foods such as fruits help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories. Fruit juice however doesn't contain the same fiber.
   Where can you get fresh vegetables? Local farmers markets are a great place to get fresh fruits and vegetables.
Here are some tips to try this summer:
  • Add fruit, such as bananas, strawberries, or blueberries, to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning.
  • Add extra vegetables to your sandwich at lunch, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, or avocado.
  • Instead of dipping pretzels or crackers in hummus, use carrot or celery sticks.
  • Sneak vegetables into your favorite dishes. For example, add mashed cauliflower to your macaroni and cheese for more nutrition and fewer calories.

   After a recent visit to the Cambria farmer's market, a friend sent me this delicious recipe. Consuelo Macedo writes for the Cambrian's Culinary Corner. 

Oven Roasted Vegetables w Frozen Yogurt & Strawberries
Large purple beets: scrubbed well, tops reserved, wrapped in foil

Golden beets: scrubbed, tops reserved

Fingerling potatoes: Tossed with chopped onions, olive oil, salt and pepper

Cauliflower: center sliced into 1-inch “steaks”, large flowerlets separated, all slathered in olive oil and seasoned

To make maximum use of the oven while preheating to 400 degrees, pop the large wrapped beets in first, then put the other veggies on baking sheets to place on both racks. Roast up to one hour, turning over when necessary, and removing each type as it cooks to golden. Leave the large beets to finish cooking as the oven cools. When cooled, slip the skins off all the beets and cut into chunks.

Meanwhile, scrub the greens well, pat dry, chop, and sauté about three minutes in one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Serve everything on a large platter with your choice of bread for dipping in any drippings Small reserved cauliflower flowerlets make a nice fresh garnish. (All of these are fine to refrigerate and reheat during the week).

Bathe smaller berries in marshmallow vodka. It will also provided a colorful liqueur for bedtime. dip larger strawberries in melted chocolate. Serve with frozen yogurt.