It's not too late to make a new year's resolution, and here's one I'll help you with: Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Generally speaking, fruits and vegetables are low in calories and full of vitamins, minerals and fiber; might help prevent some diseases and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and some cancers; and are delicious.
For the next four weeks, we'll help you add more servings of vegetables to your diet by providing some great-tasting ways to eat them. And although you might think summer would be a better time for us to encourage this type of adjustment to your diet because of all the fresh produce that's readily available, you'd be forgetting about the produce available now.
Supermarkets have plenty of cruciferous vegetables to choose from. Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips and rapini form a "head," while others, known as "headless crucifers" include dark leafy vegetables such as kale and collard greens.
If you are not a fan of cruciferous vegetables, it could be because you didn't eat them as a child. In this month's issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a study shows the importance of introducing a variety of fruits and vegetables to children at a young age to help establish healthy eating habits early.
According to Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive of Produce for Better Health Foundation, adults are more likely to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, whether fresh, frozen, canned, dried or 100 percent juice, if they were exposed to them as children.
Even if you don't eat cabbage or turnips, at least prepare them for your youngsters.
The study showed that children who were given stickers as a reward for taking just one bite of the vegetable significantly increased their intake of that vegetable and their liking of it.
In the current issue of Cooking Light, Deborah Madison, author of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, advises making fruits and vegetables less about reaching a daily tally and more about enjoying their great tastes.
An easy way to enjoy them is to roast them. "Winter vegetables tend to have a lot of sugar, so they caramelize nicely," Madison said.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the vegetables into uniform chunks; toss with a little olive oil so they don't dry out during cooking; and season with salt, pepper and any other herbs you like. Spread the chunks onto a cookie sheet, and slide it into the oven. Be sure to leave lots of room around the pieces so they caramelize rather than steam.
Cabbage is an inexpensive vegetable that appears in many cuisines, and it's tasty raw or cooked. Broccoli already is a favorite vegetable for many adults and children, and here's a quick way to incorporate it into more meals. Buy a 12-ounce package of broccoli cole slaw, and you can turn it into several dishes.
Lisa Lillien, author of Hungry Girl 1-2-3, says you can mix it with cooked turkey breast, chopped apple, raisins, and fat-free honey mustard dressing for a quick salad. Or, add it to meatloaf, pasta, canned tomato soup or marinara sauce.Give these veggie-friendly recipes a try in your weekly meal plan.
Turkey and veggie meatloaf minis
1 small onion
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons ketchup, divided
11/4 pounds raw lean ground turkey
3 cups bagged dry broccoli cole slaw, roughly chopped
1/2 cup fat-free liquid egg substitute
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a box grater, grate onion into large bowl. Add 1/4 cup ketchup and all other ingredients. Stir until thoroughly mixed. Line 9 cups of a 12-cup muffin pan with baking cups and/or spray with no-stick spray. Evenly distribute turkey- veggie mixture among muffin cups, and top each with 1 teaspoon ketchup. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, until firm with lightly browned edges. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.
Makes 9 servings.
From Hungry Girl 1-2-3
Bacon, cabbage and Gruyère pizza
8 slices bacon, diced
1/2 small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 16-ounce baked cheese pizza crust (such as Boboli)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3/4 cup packed grated Gruyère cheese
3/4 cup packed grated mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sauté bacon in large heavy skillet over medium heat until brown and crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels and drain. Pour off drippings from skillet and discard. Add cabbage to same skillet and sauté until wilted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle caraway seeds and vinegar over and blend well. Season cabbage mixture with salt and pepper.
Place pizza crust on large, heavy baking sheet. Spread with mustard, then with cabbage mixture. Sprinkle with bacon. Top with cheeses, spreading evenly. Bake pizza until cheeses melt and crust is crisp, about 20 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.
From Bon Appetit
Braised green cabbage
1 medium head green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
1 large yellow onion (about 8 ounces), thickly sliced
1 large carrot, cut into ¼-inch rounds
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup chicken stock
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1⁄8 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly oil a large gratin dish or 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Peel off and discard any bruised or ragged outer leaves from cabbage. If cabbage weighs more than 2 pounds, cut away a wedge to trim it down to size, and save leftover wedge for salad or coleslaw. (If you don't do this to an oversize cabbage, the wedges won't fit in the baking dish and won't braise as beautifully.) Cut cabbage into 8 wedges. Arrange them in baking dish; they might overlap some, but do your best to make a single layer.
Scatter in onion and carrot. Drizzle cabbage with oil and chicken stock. Season with salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Cover tightly with foil and slide into middle of oven to braise until vegetables are completely tender, about 2 hours. Turn cabbage wedges with tongs after an hour. Don't worry if the wedges want to fall apart as you turn them; just do your best to keep them intact. If the dish is drying out at all, add a few tablespoons water.
Once cabbage is completely tender, remove foil and increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Continue roasting until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 more minutes or so. Serve warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with sea salt or other coarse salt.
Makes 8 servings.
Balsamic vinegar variation: Balsamic vinegar makes this dish even sweeter. After removing foil, drizzle cabbage with 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar, turning cabbage with tongs to distribute vinegar. Roast for 15 more minutes as directed.
Note: This dish is even better made a day ahead.
Nutrition information per serving: 124 calories, 8 g. fat, trace cholesterol, 229 mg. sodium, 4 g. fiber, 11 g. carbohydrates, 2 g. protein.
From All About Braising by Molly Stevens
Mediterranean roasted broccoli and tomatoes
12 ounces broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets (about 4 cups)
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
10 pitted black olives, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons capers, rinsed (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss broccoli, tomatoes, oil, garlic and salt in large bowl until evenly coated. Spread in an even layer on baking sheet. Bake until broccoli begins to brown, 10 to 13 minutes. Meanwhile, combine lemon zest and juice, olives, oregano and capers (if using) in large bowl. Add roasted vegetables; stir to combine. Serve warm.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 76 calories, 5 g. fat, 0 mg. cholesterol, 7 g. carbohydrates, 3 g. protein; 3 g. fiber; 264 mg. sodium.
From Eating Well