- Author: Patti C. Wooten Swanson
Okay. We all know we need to eat more vegetables. I get it, but how does that translate into what I buy at the grocery store, cook, and serve my family every day? This is where the broccoli meets the plate, so to speak.
The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends: Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green and red and orange vegetables and beans and peas.
That's a little more specific. But here's what helps me envision exactly what to eat. Nutrition experts divide "vegetables" into 5 groups based on the nutrients they provide:
- dark-green vegetables (DGV)
- red and orange vegetables
- beans and peas (does not include green beans or green peas
- starchy vegetables (such as white potatoes, corn, and green peas)
- other vegetables (such as iceberg lettuce, green beans, and onions)
Dark green vegetables---What are they?
All fresh, frozen, and canned dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli, cooked or raw fit into this vegetable group.
You're probably familiar with the many types of salad greens in this group, including romaine, arugula, spinach, and leaf lettuce. Here are other dark green vegetables that you may have not tried:
- bok choy
- broccoli rabe
- collard greens
- Mesclun (a mixture of baby greens)
- mustard greens
- Swiss chard
- turnip greens
Dark green vegetables---How do you prepare them?
Most of us make salads, and steamed broccoli is pretty basic. But don't stay away from the other DGV because you don't know what to do with them.
All the dark green leafy vegetables (fresh or frozen) can be steamed or cooked in the microwave with just a little water. (Growing up in the South where turnip and collard greens were everyday fare, I was surprised to learn that “greens” don't have to be cooked all day and that they taste good without adding salt pork or bacon.)
Try these ideas:
- Sauté Swiss chard with garlic and olive oil.
- Fill an omelet with spinach or make spinach quesadillas
- Make Asian lettuce wraps
- Put bok choy and broccoli in stir-fry dishes
- Add to soups, sandwiches, and casseroles
- Toss with hot pasta and top with a little parmesan cheese
Learn how to select, store, and prepare dark leafy greens—and find easy, healthful recipes on the Fruits and Veggies — More Matters website.
Dark green vegetables---How much to eat?
Take this “small step to health”: Eat 1- 2 ½ cups of dark green vegetables per week.
Less than half a cup a day puts you in the winners' circle! How easy is that?
Once you start enjoying dark green vegetables, you'll probably want to eat more (maybe a lot more) than just 2 ½ cups---they're tasty, low calorie, high fiber and loaded with vitamins and minerals.