We could all stand to change our diet and make it a little healthier. One great way to easily improve the nutrition you are receiving with each meal is to eat more vegetables. Veggies are often the less popular choice for most as a side dish because other choices, such as fries, are “tastier.” Are these fried sides that are not heart healthy really better on your palate than veggies or do most people just not know how to prepare these garden delicacies so they are living up to their mouthwatering potential? I believe that when given the chance, these green options can prove just as crave worthy as the nearest garlic fry and at a fraction of the calories and damage to your heart.
Grilled- Spray your grill with non-stick cooking spray and place the asparagus spears directly on the grill surface. Drizzle the spears with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat when tender.
Fire Roasted- When camping or grilling at home, you can wrap spears in aluminum foil and season them using the same simple olive oil and salt and pepper. Then cook them by placing the packet directly onto coals at the edge of the fire or on a grill.
Steamed-Place spears in your steamer, drizzle with lemon juice and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Allow to steam until thoroughly cooked.
Sautéed- Drizzle olive oil in a sauté pan or other iron or non-stick skillet. Add chopped fresh garlic cook until it becomes fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the asparagus and salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add some minced onion or a little diced raw onion.
Salad-Boil the asparagus until it is done, do not overcook it or it will become mushy. Remove asparagus from heat and drench with cold water. Drain the spears and toss with vinaigrette. Add other fresh ingredients if desired.
Braised-Braising anything results in a very tender tasty dish, Brussels sprouts are no exception. Add them right in the pan when braising pork or beef in the oven and let them cook in the juices and soak up the flavor of the roasting meat. You can also braise them solo on the stove top using chicken or vegetable broth, adding salt and pepper or fresh herbs if desired.
Sautéed-Simply drizzle a pan with olive oil and add onion and garlic for a quick and easy sauté. Quarter or slice sprouts to make them cook more easily and faster all the way through.
Oven Roasted-Cut Brussels sprouts into halves or quarters and spread them on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Add a few other favorite veggies. You could use diced potatoes or squash. Keep veggies down to a single layer and drizzle them with olive oil. Add salt and pepper if desired. Pop them in the oven at about 400 until they start to wilt and turn golden brown.
Salad-if you have left over Brussels sprouts, you can use them in a salad, either warm or chilled with other veggies tossed in a nice vinaigrette.
Easy Baked-Toss your Brussels sprouts in a baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle them with olive oil and pour a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar on top and put them in the oven at 400 degrees until tender.
Soup-Not the healthiest option, but one that is sure to please, is homemade broccoli and cheese soup. Combine chicken stock and broccoli, your favorite aged cheddar some flour and salt and pepper and you are on your way. There are many variations; so find one that suits your personal taste.
Sautéed-Just a bit of olive oil or non-stick spray and some garlic are the perfect start to this side dish. Add a small amount of water after browning the edges of the broccoli in the pan and allow to cook down until tender.
Steamed-Simply put some broccoli in your steamer add salt and pepper and a little lemon juice if desired and steam away. Try not to overcook as you will gradually lose some of the great natural flavor.
Salad-Raw broccoli is a great addition to any salad for a little added crunch and great flavor.
Stir Fry-Add a combination of broccoli and chopped peppers to chicken or tofu in the wok, add a splash of sesame oil and low sodium soy sauce for a healthy and delicious meal. Serve with rice if desired.
Sautéed-Add some oil to a skillet and sauté a few cloves of chopped garlic for a few seconds. Add the kale and toss with the garlic. Allow the kale to cook until tender.
Warm Salad-Sauté kale until tender with some chopped peppers. Once cooked, toss with your favorite vinaigrette and tomatoes or olives or capers if desired for a nice warm salad.
Soup-In a crock pot or slow cooker add chicken or vegetable stock and a bunch of kale. Put in a can of beans and some sautéed onion. Add salt and pepper and any other vegetables or herbs that you like. Allow to cook on medium heat for a few hours.
Juice-Kale is an excellent item to juice as you get all of its nutrients this way. Apples and bananas go well with its natural flavor, but feel free to add any fruit or vegetable.
Stew-Add kale to your favorite stew or gumbo recipe for an added boost in vitamins. It will take on the flavors of the dish while cooking.
Creamed-Boil the spinach and place in a sauté pan. Add cheddar cheese, some grated parmesan if desired, milk, a few tablespoons of flour and salt and pepper and stir until thickened.
Dip-Add chopped marinated artichoke hearts and sour cream to cooked spinach. Stir; add grated fresh parmesan if desired and serve with chips or bread.
Lasagna-Try using spinach in your next lasagna. Either mix cooked spinach in with the sauce or layer it with the noodles and cheese and other veggies for a yummy vegetarian meal.
Salad-Raw spinach makes a fantastic and very healthy base to any salad. Add some strawberries or cranberries and some goat cheese and your other favorite salad fixings for something different and delicious.
Wilted-In a skillet, add a drizzle of olive oil and some garlic, toss in your spinach and cook until wilted.
Make sure not to overcook your veggies, they lose some of their nutrients while cooking and are in their healthiest form when raw. Underdone is better than overdone.