A variety of vegetables should be eaten every day--ideally as a mix of the five vegetable groups: dark green vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, or Romaine lettuce; orange vegetables, such as squash or carrots; starchy vegetables, such as corn, green peas, or potatoes; dried beans and dried peas, such as black beans, lentils, kidney beans, soybeans and even tofu; and other vegetables, such as asparagus, beets, cabbage, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, and zucchini. Dried beans and soyfoods are crossover foods--they can be considered either a vegetable or a protein.
While you may not be able to include selections from each of the five vegetable groups on a daily basis, you should have some from each group over the course of the week. Vegetables in juice form (100% vegetable juice preferable) also count.
Vegetable dishes, like grain dishes, can be taken to a whole new culinary level with the addition of herbs and spices. The same herbs listed in the grain section would make excellent additions to most vegetable dishes, along with other popular choices like caraway, chives, dill, fennel, ginger, oregano, parsley, and tarragon. Seasoning blends, such as Garlic 'n Herb Seasoning, Italian Seasoning, or Veggie Pepper also add delicious flavor and aroma to vegetable recipes.
For an easy-to-make, tasty vegetarian main dish, try Crock Cauliflower White Chili. For vegetable side dishes, you might like to try Mashed Spiced Sweet Potatoes, Baked Orange Ginger Squash, Grilled Ratatouille, and Autumn Carrots.
Fruit should be a part of your daily routine. For optimum health, enjoy a variety of fruits--apples, bananas, citrus fruits, grapes, melons, and berries. While canned, frozen, or cooked fruits provide health benefits, fresh raw fruits will deliver the greatest amount of vitamins and fiber. Fruit juice is also an option if it's 100% juice, but with most juices, you'll be missing out on some of the dietary fiber you'd be getting from raw fruits. When using canned fruits, your best choices are brands that are packed in 100% fruit juice or water, rather than syrup.
Dried fruits are also good choices, but because they tend to be higher in sugar (the natural sugars in the fruit are concentrated in the dehydrating process) you'll need to watch how many you consume. And dried fruits are often processed with sulfur dioxide or meta bisulfate to maintain color and extend shelf life. They may also be treated with preservatives or mold inhibitors, including methyl bromine, sorbic acid or potassium sorbate. When buying dried fruits, it's best to choose organic ones whenever possible.
To work more servings of fruit into your day, add fresh fruit to your breakfast cereal or yogurt (or use the yogurt as a fresh fruit dip), create a colorful fresh fruit kabob, add fruits such as apples, grapes, and berries to your green salads, or get out the blender and make a refreshing fruit drink like our Tropical Breeze. Fruits also make great desserts — a small dish of fresh raspberries, strawberries or sliced apples make a simple yet satisfying end to a meal. For a special dessert, try Fall Fruit Crumble any season!"
Sweet spices like allspice, anise, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg go particularly well with fruits.
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» A Guide to Healthy Eating
» Vegetables & Fruits
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