Processed food says it wants to be your friend. It’s lying. It’s full of additives and artificial ingredients — not the kind of thing you want in a friend. Or in your food. On the other hand, our vegetable friends offer the most nutrients and fiber for the least amount of calories. One serving of broccoli offers heaping helpfuls of vitamins C and K, calcium, lutein, even protein, all for 30 calories. That’s way fewer calories than even a skinny latte. Yet less than 10 percent of Americans eat their recommended daily serving of fruits and vegetables.
“I can’t eat a plate of plain broccoli,” people tell me, looking pained. I can, and do, but I’m unusual. Vegetables don’t have to be the solo stars of your dinner. They’re delicious but they’re not divas. Vegetables are glad to be share the billing. They’re eager to make friends and get along well with other ingredients.
Think of beans, whole grains, pasta, as blank canvases that deserve a produce palate. Adding vegetables not only enriches them with nutrients and fiber but also with flavor, texture and color. Why eat a plain bowl of rice when you can enjoy rice tossed with a confetti of sauteed peppers, onions and mushrooms? Can’t stand the idea of spending a minute more in the kitchen than you have to? Add a handful or two of spinach to hot, ready-to-serve spaghetti. Give it a toss and the greens will wilt happily into the noodles, with no extra cooking. Adding vegetables adds fiber, goodness, color and flavor but no calories.
Yes, you can pop a capsule and get your vitamins that way, but supplements aren’t regulated by the FDA, so you never quite know the quality you’re getting. Plus, capsules don’t taste good. Vegetables want to show your mouth a good time, especially now.
We’re just coming in to South Florida’s great growing season. Spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, green beans, eggplant, kale, fennel, radishes and more are fresh and waiting to friend you at local farmers markets and through community-shared agriculture programs. Because they’re grown here and in season, they’re lower in price, too. Let it be the start of a beautiful friendship.