Have a Plant: Fruits & Veggies for Better Health

May 6, 2014

Spring is the perfect time to … go green. No, not green as in earth friendly (though that’s important too), but green as in adding more green fruits and vegetables to your daily diet — green grapes, green apples, honeydew melon, green beans, broccoli, spinach, asparagus and more. You get the picture.

What Can Green Do For You?
Green fruits and vegetables are loaded with important vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and folate, as well as phytochemicals and fiber. Eating a diet rich in green produce can help …

  • Reduce the risk of some types of cancer
  • Maintain strong bones and teeth
  • Promote vision health

The Go Green Challenge
Challenge yourself to eat more green fruits and vegetables. Start with everyday favorites such as green grapes, green apples and green beans, then add a new green fruit or vegetable to your shopping cart each week. Here are a few ideas to get you started …

Edamame
What it is: Edamame is Japanese for green soybeans and is sold fresh or frozen.

How to use it: If purchased in the pod, remove the beans from the pod before eating. Enjoy edamame as a snack, in a stir fry, or tossed into a salad.

Kiwifruit
What it is: Originally from China, commercial production of kiwifruit began in New Zealand where the fuzzy-skinned fruit was named after the national bird. Choose kiwis that are soft enough to give slightly when pressed.

How to use it: Slice off both ends and peel the remaining skin with a knife or vegetable peeler. Slice or chop the fruit, as desired, and use it in fruit salad, salsa, sorbet or fruit pizza.

Arugula
What it is: Arugula is a salad green that has a slight peppery flavor.

How to use it: Stir arugula into soup or pasta, toss it in a salad or use it to make pesto.

Avocado
What it is: The buttery flesh of the avocado has a slight nutty flavor. The most common varieties are the Hass (with dark, thick, bumpy skin) and the Fuerte (with smooth, thin, green skin).

How to use it: Mash it to make guacamole, or slice/dice it for a sandwich or salad. Sprinkle with lemon or lime juice to prevent discoloring when exposed to the air.

Broccolini
What it is: Broccolini looks like baby broccoli and is sold in bunches. It’s a cross between Chinese kale and broccoli. The flavor of broccolini is sweet and slightly peppery. Look for bright green stalks and flowerets with closed buds.

How to use it: Broccolini stalks are tender and entirely edible, so enjoy them raw with dips. Since they are so tender, they don’t take long to cook. Try steaming, sautéing or roasting them at a high temperature for a few minutes.

Leek
What it is: This vegetable looks like a big green scallion. When shopping for leeks, be sure they are firm and free from blemishes.

How to use it: Sometimes leeks have a gritty residue between their layers, so wash them thoroughly. Cut off the root end and the green stalks. Slice leeks into rings or chop and use them in soups, salads, stir-fry dishes, egg dishes or vegetable casseroles.

Tomatillo
What it is: Also known as a Mexican green tomato, the tomatillo is enclosed in a delicate, papery husk. Though it looks like a tomato, it tastes faintly of lemon, apple and herbs.

How to use it: Popular in Southwestern and Mexican cooking, the tomatillo may be used raw or cooked in salads, guacamole, salsas and sauces. It’s the key ingredient in salsa verde.

Natalie Menza, MS, RD
Manager of Health and Wellness
Wakefern Food Corporation

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