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Eat More Veggies—Give ‘Em a Makeover

Updated: Jul 8, 2022

As a Registered Dietitian (RD) and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE), the advice I share with clients includes adjusting their daily diets to be more plant-centric. Research indicates that including more plant-based foods in the diet can be beneficial. Some of the benefits include consuming fewer calories, less fat, lowering the risk of heart disease, and reducing the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

When you think of adding more plants to your diet you are dishing up vegetables, grains, tubers, legumes, fruit, nuts and seeds on your menu.  In choosing vegetables, consider giving traditional vegetables a makeover. For example, try cauliflower as mashed potatoes, green peas as guacamole or squash as spaghetti. These veggie options are readily available and easy to “makeover,” giving your menu a fresh look.

Cauliflower is low in fat, a good source of dietary fiber, B vitamins, vitamins C and K, as well as minerals potassium and magnesium.  This vegetable also contains choline, an essential micronutrient as well as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, manganese, phosphorus, and biotin.  To prepare Mock Mashed Potatoes using cauliflower in place of spuds, steam the cauliflower approximately 10 minutes, or until tender; drain liquid and cool slightly.  Place cauliflower pieces and 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic in food processor and process until smooth. Remove from processor and season to taste with salt and pepper, top with chopped chives or parsley.

Green Peas are a very good source of vitamin K, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin B1, copper, vitamin C, phosphorus and folate. They are also a good source of vitamin B6, niacin, vitamin B2, molybdenum, zinc, protein, magnesium, iron, potassium and choline. Surprisingly green peas are a good source of protein—about 3/4 cup (100-calorie serving) contains more protein than 1/4 cup of almonds or a tablespoon of peanut butter!  To turn these power-packed legumes into “mock guacamole,” cook frozen peas as desired, drain and cool.  Place cooled peas in a food processor, with one small garlic clove, and a few cilantro leaves, process until smooth. Remove from processor, season to taste with salt, pepper and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.  Serve with vegetable dippers or whole grain chips.

Spaghetti Squash is a winter squash that is low in fat—it contains about half the calories of most of the other members in the winter squash family.  It’s a good source of vitamin C, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese.  It is low in cholesterol and is a very good source of fiber.  It makes a gluten-free alternative to pasta. To prepare, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests the following:

Cut squash in half to reveal a pocket of seeds; scoop those out and pop the two halves into the microwave or oven and cook until tender. Scrape a fork into the flesh and spaghetti-like strands appear. Top the spaghetti-like strands with tomato sauce.

This is not to say drop meat from your diet, but to give you suggestions to help you boost consumption of plant foods, and benefit from the nutrients they provide.

Take Away:  Give your plate a makeover—eat more vegetables, grains, tubers, legumes, fruit, nuts and seeds.

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