Sunday, January 18, 2009

10 HEALTHIEST VEGETABLES THAT SHOULD BE A PART OF YOUR WINTER DIET

1. BROCCOLI

Facts: Broccoli is rich in vitamins A, C and K as well as folate and fiber. It is also an excellent source of phytonutrients sulforaphane and the indoles, which have significant anti-cancer effects. It boosts the immune system, optimizes cell detoxification, supports digestive health and helps build stronger bones. It is important to include broccoli in your diet, especially in the winter months, when our exposure to the sun and vitamin D is limited and the risk of illness is heightened. Hate broccoli? Try broccoli sprouts. These tiny seedlings have up to 100 times more of some of the nutrients than mature broccoli plants.

Choose: Dark green or dark purple heads on firm, bright green stems. The buds should be tight with no yellow flowers present.

Cook: Take care not to overcook; broccoli should retain its bright green color and snap. Always add some fat, as it will make it easier to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.

Stir-fried Chinese Broccoli
Broccoli Almondine
Broccoli-Mascarpone Soup
Roasted Broccoli
Broccoli Beef
Broccoli and Cheese Casserole

2. AVOCADOS

Facts: The one thing you should know about avocados is that they are rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that supplies countless health benefits, not the least of which is an improved absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Avocados are also an excellent source of vitamin K, fiber, potassium and folate.

Choose: Choose avocados that yield to slight pressure. The skin should be dark with no sunken spots or cracks. Avocados that have a neck, rather than a rounded shape were very likely tree-ripened and will have better flavor. To ripen at home, place in a paper bag for several days.

Cook: Cut the avocado in half and use the knife to remove the pit. To remove the ripened flesh, slide a table spoon along the inside of the skin. Sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning.

Perfect Guacamole
Crab, Mango and Avocado Salad
Tuna and Avocado Tartare
Watercress, Orange and Avocado Salad
Beef and Avocado Fajitas
Sweet Potato and Avocado Empanadas

3. CABBAGE

Facts: Cabbage is an ancient health food. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of fiber, manganese, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Cabbage is also a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, and protein. Cabbage also contains phytochemicals called indoles and sulforaphane, the breakdown products of compounds called glucosinolates. It is a potent cancer fighter, supports digestive health and helps the cells efficiently get rid of toxins.

Choose: Choose cabbage heads that are firm, and shiny with bright leaves that are not cracked or bruised. Chiise cabbage heads that are firm and shiny with bright leaves that are free of cracks and bruises.

Cook: To preserve the vitamin C content, cut cabbage shortly before cooking. The phytonutrients react with carbon steel and will turn the leaves black, so be sure to use a stainless steel knife. To preserve cancer-fighting glucosinolates, steam cabbage for no more than five minutes.

Traditional Sauerkraut
Cajun Cabbage
Kimchee
Pork Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
Irish "Bacon" and Cabbage
Portuguese Stone Soup

4. WINTER SQUASH

Facts: Acorn, spaghetti, turban, butternut, delicatta, buttercup - we have plenty of choices when it comes to squash. Each variety is nutritionally slightly different. Generally winter squash is an excellent source of beta-carotene, a nutrient your body converts to vitamin A. Squash is also rich in vitamin C, manganese, potassium, folate, diatary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin B6, niacin-vitamin B3 and pantothenic acid.

Choose: Select squash that are firm, heavy for their size with hard rinds. Store winter squash in a cool, dark place for up to six months.

Cook: Before cooking, cut the squash and scoop out the seeds.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile Vinaigrette
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Butternut Squash Risotto
Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Filling
Curried Squash and Pear Soup
Seafood Stew with Winter Squash, Tomatoes and Saffron

5. ARTICHOKES

Facts: Traditionally, artichokes have been used to cleanse the blood and treat liver bladder and gallbladder conditions. They are high in vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Artichokes contain high amount of caffeoylquinic acids, compounds that increase the flow of bile to and from the liver. Improved bile flow protects the liver and enhances the removal of toxins from the body.

Choose: Look for tightly closed artichokes that are heavy for their size. Store unwashed in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Cook: Small artichokes need very little preparation. To clean large artichokes, take a look at How to Cook and Eat Artichokes from Simply Recipes.

Sauteed Baby Artichokes
Lamb Stew with Leeks and Baby Artichokes
Bass in Artichoke and Tomato Broth
Artichoke Soup
Lemon Braised Artichokes over Pasta
Roasted Artichoke Salad

6. KALE

Facts: Kale is a dark leafy green that is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese. It also has plenty of dietary fiber, copper, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium. It optimizes cell cleansing and detoxification, provides plenty of energy, helps build strong bones, protects against cancer and provides immune support.

Choose: Look for crisp leaves that are free of bruises. To store, wrap in a damp paper towel, place in a plastic container and store in the refrigerator crisper. Eat within a couple of days as it becomes more bitter the longer it is stored.

Cook: Kale should never be eaten raw; it contains oxalates, compounds that are reduced with cooking. To remove the woody stem, hold the leaves at the base and with the other hand gently pull the stem. To reduce vitamin loss, cook kale for no more than five minutes over low heat. Make sure to add some butter or olive oil to the cooked dish in order to increase vitamin uptake.

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup
Ribollita
Crispy Kale
Garlicky Greens
Heather's Quinoa
Wilted Kale and Roasted-Potato Winter Salad

7. BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Facts: An excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin K, they also have folate, vitamin A, manganese, dietary fiber, potassium, vitamin B6 and thiamin (vitamin B1), omega-3 fatty acids, iron, phosphorous, protein, magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin E, copper and calcium. Plant phytonutrients found in Brussels sprouts enhance the activity of the body's natural defense systems to protect against disease, including cancer.

Choose: Look for Brussels sprouts that are tightly closed, firm and bright green. Unwashed, they can be safely stored for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.

Cook: If you cook the Brussels sprouts whole, make sure you cut and X in the stem. This ensures even cooking of the interior leaves.

Hashed Brussels Sprouts With Lemon
Lentil Almond Stir-Fry
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic and Pancetta
Beer Braised Beef Stew with Brussels Sprouts
Lamb and Sauteed Potatoes with Brussels Sprout Stew

8. CAULIFLOWER

Facts: Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamins A and K, folate and dietary fiber. It is also a very good source of omega 3 fatty acids, tryptophan, B vitamins, manganese, and potassium. As all cruciferous vegetables, it is a potent cancer fighter, enhances cell detoxification, protects against rheumatoid arthritis and supports cardiovascular health.

Choose: Make sure that the head or curd is compact and free of brown spots. Store cauliflower stem side down for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Cook: Cut off any brown spots and cut curd to uniform pieces for even cooking. Iron cookware will cause cauliflower to turn brown.

Indian-Spiced Eggplant and Cauliflower Stew
Cauliflower Puree
Cauliflower-Goat Cheese Gratin
Cauliflower Soup with Seared Scallops, Lemon Oil, and American Caviar
Cheesy Baked Penne with Cauliflower and Crème Fraîche
Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn

9. TURNIP GREENS

Facts: Turnip greens are an amazing source of vitamin A (through their concentration of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B6, folate, copper, calcium, and dietary fiber. These nutrients are of special importance when fighting rheumatoid arthritis, colorectal cancer and atherosclerosis. They also promote lung health and slow the loss of mental function.

Choose:The greens are almost always sold with the roots attached. Turnip roots are also very nutritious and could be used in a variety of dishes. Look for deep green, crisp, unblemished greens with succulent stems and unbruised roots. In the refrigerator, the leaves will keep fresh for four to five days.

Cook: To preserve most nutrients cook for a short time over low heat. Leaves as well as the stems are edible.

Turnip Greens & Potatoes with Dressing
Turnip Greens, Old Fashioned Style
Spicy Black Bean, Chorizo and Turnip Greens Soup
Creamed Turnip Greens
New Year's Turnip Greens
Baby Turnips and Greens in a Moghul-Style Sauce

10. BEETS AND BEET GREENS

Facts: Beet greens are higher in nutritional value than the roots; they are an excellent source of calcium, iron and vitamins A & C. The roots are a very good source of folic acid, fibre, manganese and potassium, whereas both the greens and roots are rich in magnesium, phosphorous, iron and vitamin B6.

Choose: Look for firm beets without bruises or soft spots. The leaves should be crisp and bright green. When storing, cut away the leaves, leaving two inches of stem attached to the roots. The unwashed roots can be refrigerated for up to four weeks, the leaves for up to four days.

Cook: Cook the roots uncut with the stems attached. Prolonged cooking will decrease the vitamin content and cancer-fighting properties. The greens should be cooked lightly over low heat.

Roasted Beet Crostini
Orange and Beet Salad
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Pistachios
Beet and Carrot Pancakes
Beet and Braised Beef Soup
Sweet Potato and Beet Chips with Garlic Rosemary Salt

2 comments:

Michele Estes said...

Fabulous blog! I love all of the recipes given with this post; it shows that eating healthy is really easy and delicious!

Looking forward to more posts, as I will be visiting the city in June & will want to check out the market.

Ken said...

I love this article. I did not even think about the brussel sprouts and kale for winter time meals.