How to Sneak DASH-Friendly Fruits and Vegetables into Your Diet - dummies

How to Sneak DASH-Friendly Fruits and Vegetables into Your Diet

By Sarah Samaan, Rosanne Rust, Cynthia Kleckner

Following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet means eating more fruits and vegetables. Keeping veggies visible and ready for consumption, either on your kitchen counter or in your refrigerator, allows you to easily throw together some quick meals during the week.

Here are some tips for sneaking fruits and veggies into meals where you least expect them:

  • Add 2 tablespoons of cooked spinach to two or three eggs (use no more than two yolks and up to four whites) to make a quick spinach omelet.

  • Dip your eggs in salsa or fill a whole-wheat tortilla with scrambled eggs, salsa, and spinach leaves for a nutrient-packed breakfast wrap.

  • Add sliced tomatoes and fresh baby spinach leaves to your sandwich. Try thinly sliced bell peppers or roasted peppers on a sandwich, too.

  • Use leftover brown rice to make a quick salad to pack for lunch the following day. Add baby spinach, dried cranberries, sliced apples, and carrots to the rice. Toss with 1 tablespoon of vinaigrette dressing.

  • Try a simple peanut sauce to add spunk to a veggie stir-fry. Stir-fry your favorite vegetables for 2 minutes. Whisk together 3 tablespoons natural peanut butter, 2 tablespoons water, and 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce. Pour sauce over veggies and stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes.

  • Use carrots and pepper strips instead of crackers or pretzels for dipping. Substitute hummus for cheese as a snack to go with the vegetables and get two vegetables in one (hummus is made from chickpeas).

  • Add 2 tablespoons of tomato-based salsa to rice for a quick side dish with added lycopene (a naturally occurring and powerful antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color).

  • Add a side salad to your business lunch. Side salads usually include more vegetables and are always lower in calories than Caesar salads, which really aren’t a great choice because of all the croutons, dressing, and cheese.

Sometimes a simple steamed vegetable may work well with a more complex entree, but in general, plain, steamed vegetables are pretty boring. So what can you do? Start with the steamed veggie but then add an herb, some olive oil, or some fruit and nuts — easy ways to reinvent that vegetable you thought you hated!

Steaming vegetables

You can steam a vegetable either on the stovetop with a pot of boiling water and a steam basket or in the microwave. Steaming on the stovetop takes about 3 to 7 minutes after the water has reached the boiling point.

To steam in the microwave, place washed veggies into a microwave-safe glass dish with a lid, add about a half-inch of water, cover, cook for 3 to 5 minutes on high, remove the lid, and drain the water. Either way, the steamed vegetable should be crisp-tender and have a bright, vibrant color.

To add some flavor to your steamed veggies, try the following:

  • Drizzle fresh green beans with olive oil and a few shakes of Herbs de Provence.

  • When you steam broccoli, add a clove or two of garlic. After it’s cooked, remove the garlic. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil, a shake of red pepper, and 1 tablespoon of dried cranberries. You can also mix the broccoli into a cup of brown rice and make a pilaf.

  • Steam baby carrots until they’re fork-tender. Drain and drizzle 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup over the carrots. Sprinkle with a touch of dried tarragon.

Roasting vegetables

Roasting vegetables tends to bring out the natural sugars in the vegetable, offering you a whole new set of flavors. Try roasting or grilling vegetables you don’t like — you may be pleasantly surprised!

Following are some suggestions if you’re new to roasting veggies:

  • Peel an eggplant and cut off the ends. Cut into 1/2 -inch slices, and then cut each into four pieces so you have cubes. Wash and cut a bell pepper into small cubes. Chop a sweet onion and peel three to four garlic cloves. Add 1 cup of chopped portobello mushrooms.

    Toss the vegetable mixture with about 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss until coated and pour the mixture into a glass baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, turning twice during cooking (at around 15 and 25 minutes).

  • Rinse a bunch of asparagus and cut about 1 to 2 inches off the bottom ends (you can also just snip them by hand; the point where the end snips is the tough part). Place the asparagus in a shallow dish, drizzle with olive oil, and toss to coat.

    Sprinkle with a squeeze of lemon juice and a touch of garlic powder. Place the asparagus directly onto a hot grill, being careful not to allow it to slip through the slots (you can also use a grill pan). Grill for about 10 to 15 minutes, turning once.

  • Peel, cut, and cube a butternut squash (cut it into small cubed pieces, about a half-inch in size). Toss with olive oil (see a trend here?) and one clove of minced garlic, and sprinkle with chopped fresh or dried rosemary. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it’s fork-tender.

Mixing and matching vegetables

Mixing different vegetables together, adding them to grain dishes, or adding in fruit, nuts, or seeds is another great way to enjoy vegetables. Here are some fun and flavorful additions to common vegetables:

  • Beets: crumbled goat cheese, walnuts

  • Broccoli: toasted walnuts, raisins, slivered carrots

  • Green beans: slivered almonds, toasted walnuts, raisins, pearl onions

  • Spinach: sunflower seeds, butternut squash

  • Squash: caramelized onions, small amounts of grated Swiss cheese

  • Zucchini: toasted walnuts, feta cheese