Give your boring vegetables a kick this National Fruit and Vegetable Month, and try spicing it up with creative ways to add more green to your plate. As an adult, most people should consume between 2.5 and 3 cups of vegetables per day, whereas children ages 9-18 only need 2-3 cups, and children under 9 only require 1-1.5 cups per day, according to the USDA. If you are looking to get more iron in your diet (or in your kids’ diets), be sure to shop for more dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and collard greens. Vegetables also give your body the fiber and potassium that you need to reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your blood pressure. Treat your body and mind with these healthy vitamin-rich veggie recipes:
Penne with Broccoli Pesto
Pesto is popping up all over, so try making your own pesto this summer to encourage yourself to eat healthier.
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for grating
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
- Ground black pepper
- 1/2 pound penne
- 2 ears corn, kernels removed (about 1 cup)
In a large pot, boil 3 quarts of water and one tablespoon of salt. Add broccoli, and cook it for 4-5 minutes until it begins to get tender and is a bright green color. Take the broccoli out of the pot sing a slotted spoon, and put it in a food processor. Toss in parmesan, nuts, oil, basil, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Process the mix until it is a pesto texture, and set aside. Add penne to the boiling water used to cook the broccoli, and cook it according to the instructions on the back of the box. Add corn to the boiling water during the last few minutes of cooking. Drain the penne, but keep 1 cup of pasta water, and return the penne to the pot with the cup of water. Add the pesto to the penne and toss together. Adjust the seasonings for taste. Serve with an additional sprinkling of parmesan if desired.
Potato and Leek Soup
Nothing is better than soup for a rainy day, and potato and leek soup lets you indulge in comfort food while knowing you are also getting a good serving of vegetables.
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 6 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large pieces
- 4 leeks (whites only), thoroughly washed and sliced
- 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup heavy cream
In a large pot, mix together chicken stock, potatoes, leeks, celery, bay leaf, and thyme, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Boil everything in the pot for about 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft. Remove the bay leaf, and then use an immersion blender or food processor to blend the soup until it is smooth. Pour the soup into a medium-sized pot, add the cream, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the soup has gotten thick.
This summer, throw some asparagus on the grill so that you get more than just tomatoes and lettuce from on your burger to count towards your veggie intake for the day!
- 2 lbs fresh asparagus
- Olive oil
Use a brush and lightly coat the asparagus with olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on to taste. Grill over high heat for 2-3 minutes, or until as tender as you would like them to be.
Yes, beans fall under the category of vegetables, according to the USDA, since these legumes offer much of the same potassium, fiber, and other vitamins that are offered by more traditional veggies.
- One 15-ounce can chickpeas
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup tahini
- Half of a large garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on taste
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 to 3 tablespoons water
- Dash of ground paprika
In a food processor bowl, process tahini and lemon juice together for one minute. Then, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to be sure to get every bit mixed, and process for an extra 30 seconds. Add olive oil, cumin, minced garlic, and salt to the whipped tahini, processing the mix for 30 seconds before scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl and processing the mixture for another 30 seconds. Drain the can of chickpeas and rinse them, then add half of the chickpeas to the bowl, process for one minute, scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the second half of the chickpeas, and process again for 1-2 minutes until thick and smooth. Serve the hummus with a sprinkle of olive oil on top, and a dash of paprika.