If vegetables aren’t the all-star of your meal, and you – like many of my clients – think of vegetables as bland or boring, think again.
With the spring weather upon us, this is a great time of year to increase your intake of fresh seasonal veggies. Vegetables are packed full of vitamins and nutrients that protect your health, including reducing your risk of cancer and heart disease. While you may know this, rather than eating vegetables because you feel like you should eat them, start eating them because you enjoy them.
Below are ten of my favorite ways to flavor your spring-time veggies.
- Add chopped bell peppers, onions, mushrooms and a few pieces of pineapple to a skewer and grill them for a slightly sweet, smoky flavor.
- Drizzle balsamic vinegar over roasted asparagus after it’s done cooking.
- Sauté collard greens, Swiss chard or mustard greens with lemon juice, garlic and a teaspoon of olive oil.
- Season steamed carrots with fresh dill.
- Add watercress to sandwiches or salads for a refreshing crunch.
- Grate lemon or orange zest and add to the water when steaming or boiling vegetables to infuse citrus flavor.
- Add rice vinegar and black pepper to steamed broccoli for a tasty, flavorful kick.
- Combine halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, fresh basil and a small sprinkle of reduced fat feta with balsamic vinegar for a tasty side salad.
- Add a small handful of slivered almonds, sesame seeds, or sunflower seeds to sautéed green beans.
- Grill cauliflower florets seasoned with lime juice and cumin (wrapped in aluminum foil). When done, sprinkle with finely chopped cilantro. Combine halved cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, fresh basil and a small sprinkle of reduced fat feta with balsamic vinegar for a tasty side salad.
And, for a healthy meal starring all your favorite spring vegetables, try this homemade teriyaki sauce:
- Combine 2 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce, ½ cup water, 1-2 cloves minced garlic, 1 Tablespoon lime juice, red pepper flakes (if desired), 1 teaspoon brown sugar or honey and 1 Tablespoon corn starch. Pour over any combination of carrots, onions, bell peppers, broccoli, snap peas, asparagus or mushrooms in a sauté pan and stir-fry until vegetables are soft but still slightly crisp.
- Add cooked chicken, shrimp or tofu and serve over ½ cup brown rice for a balanced meal.
What’s your favorite way to flavor veggies?
Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is a clinical dietitian at the Massachusetts General Hospital Weight Center. She has a passion for promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. You can follow her on twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.