Serve your family a wide variety of vegetables and from all different parts of the plant – roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. The leaves, or greens, of some vegetables, such as beets and turnips, are equally nutritious if not more so than the veggie itself. These greens are high in beta carotene, fiber, vitamin E, calcium, and iron, but they contain only around 25 calories per serving (without added butter or oil).
FRESH OR FROZEN
How food is processed affects its nutritional quality. Generally, the less processing, the better. In nutrient value, fresh is better than frozen, and frozen is better than canned. But there are many exceptions. Much depends upon the time between harvesting, and freezing, and canning. A vegetable that is frozen or canned hours after harvesting may contain more vitamins than a fresh veggie that has had to travel across the country to market. There are various nutritional tradeoffs from packaging and processing. For example, canned and frozen vegetables contain more sodium. Frozen broccoli may contain more beta carotene, since the stalks have been removed, leaving only the florets in the package, but it will have less calcium and more sodium. As often as possible, serve fresh and frozen vegetables to your family, so they get used to the more varied and intense flavors.
Steaming vegetables preserves a lot more of the nutrients and the fresh vegetable taste than boiling, which releases some value nutrients into the water. Consult a reliable cookbook to avoid overcooking. Cover them tightly so they don’t lose moisture. Perk up the flavor with seasonings rather than salt and butter. Try lemon juice, onion juice, honey, dill, cinnamon, nutmeg, basil, curry, oregano, and garlic. A bit of olive oil, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, or grated cheese add interest.
Savvy salad. When you’re creating a salad, remember that the darker the leaves, the more nutritious the salad. The paler the greens, the fewer nutrients there are. Spinach leaves are a much more nutritious alternative to iceberg lettuce. Romaine lettuce contains about three times the amount of folic acid as iceberg. Although most lettuces and salad greens are similar in the traces of B-vitamins and minerals they contain, there are differences. Here’s how salad greens rank, from most nutritious to least: spinach leaves, arugula, watercress, endive, romaine, bib, Boston, and iceberg.