Vegetables are versatile! There are so many ways you can add vegetables to your favorite dishes. You can add shredded or chopped vegetables to spaghetti sauce and pizza, and thicken soups and stews with cooked, pureed vegetables such as potatoes and carrots.
Most vegetables are naturally low in fat, low in calories, and cholesterol free. Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including vitamins and fiber that are vital for health and maintenance of our bodies.
How Many Vegetables Are Needed Each Day?
The MyPlate Daily Checklist provides a personalized food plan; this includes the amounts you need from each food group. Women need 2-1/2 cups of vegetables and men need 3 cups daily, based on a 2,000 calorie daily intake. School-age children need 2 to 2-1/2 cups, and teens need 2-1/2 to 3 cups. In general, 1 cup of raw or cooked vegetables or vegetable juice, or 2 cups of raw leafy greens can be considered as 1 cup from the vegetable group. Any vegetable or 100% vegetable juice counts as a member of the vegetable group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed.
Best Nutritional Value
Vary your vegetable choices. Based on their nutrient content, vegetables are organized into 5 subgroups: dark-green vegetables, starchy vegetables, red and orange vegetables, beans and peas, and other vegetables.
Consider preserving fiber content by limiting peeling. Steam, broil, microwave or cook vegetables in small amounts of water to preserve nutrients. Purchase fresh vegetables in season, and frozen or canned vegetables when they are not, to stretch food dollars. When choosing canned vegetables, select those labeled as “reduced sodium,” “low sodium,” or “no salt added.”
Tips to Help You Eat Vegetables
- For extra flavor, mix vegetables such as sautéed onions, peas, or tomatoes into your favorite dish.
- Consider stir-frying your veggies – try including broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, or green beans as a quick addition to any meal.
- Add vegetables to your wrap or sandwich. Sliced tomatoes, romaine lettuce, or avocado are excellent additions.
- Add extra vegetables to your pasta dish. Veggies such as peppers, spinach, onions, mushrooms or cherry tomatoes add texture and flavor.
- Try grilling carrots, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, or potatoes on a kabob skewer. Brush with oil to keep them from drying out.
- Liven up your omelet with chopped and sautéed vegetables. Try onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, or spinach.
- Enjoy vegetables as a snack with low-fat dip.
- Keep canned vegetables on hand as a great addition to any meal. Consider canned tomatoes, kidney beans, and beets.
- Sip on vegetable soup – just heat it and eat it. Look for reduced- or low-sodium soups.
- Try roasting vegetables – roasting gives vegetables a richer, sweeter flavor.
- Brighten your salad with colorful vegetables such as shredded carrots, black beans, radishes, chopped red cabbage, or sweet peas.
- Prep and pre-package bell peppers, carrots, or broccoli and use them on a salad, in a veggie wrap or with hummus when you’re in a hurry.
- Order veggie toppings on your pizza.
Try the following vegetable recipes. They are easy to serve anytime.
Easy Roasted Veggies
Courtesy: Iowa State University Extension & Outreach
- 5 cups assorted vegetable pieces, cut into chunks (potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, onions and mushrooms)
- 1 tablespoon oil (canola or vegetable)
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- Heat oven to 425° F.
- Line a 9” x 13” pan with aluminum foil.
- Spread vegetables in pan. Sprinkle oil on vegetables. Stir. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, pepper, and salt. Stir.
- Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Use a spatula to turn every 15 minutes.
- Serve while hot.
- Use thyme, basil, and/or rosemary in place of dried Italian seasoning.
- Roasting brings out the sweetness of vegetables.
Nutrition Facts: Calories: 90, Fat: 3g, Carbohydrates: 16g, Dietary Fiber: 3g, Protein: 2g, Sodium: 95mg. Serves 5.
Simple Stir Fry
Courtesy: University of Missouri Extension
- 1/2 pound boneless chicken or lean meat, sliced thin or cut into small cubes
- 3 cups fresh vegetables, sliced thin or cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable)
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Wash hands and surfaces.
- In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over high heat. Add chicken or lean meat and stir-fry until browned, but not quite done, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add 1 tablespoon oil to the frying pan, then add the vegetables, garlic and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water. Lower heat and cover skillet with a lid. Cook until the water has evaporated, about 10 minutes. The vegetables should be brightly colored, crisp and tender, and the meat should be cooked and tender. Serve hot. Refrigerate leftovers immediately.
- Eat more than one kind of vegetable every day – different colors add variety.
- Use separate cutting boards for vegetables and meat or clean your cutting board between each use.
Nutrition Facts: Calories: 130, Fat: 5g, Carbohydrates: 55g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Protein: 10g, Sodium: 40mg. Serves 6.
For additional information about vegetables, check out North Dakota State University Extension Service’s What Color is Your Food? Are you looking for quick, easy, and delicious vegetable recipes? See University of Minnesota Extension’s Recipe Box.
- United States Department of Agriculture. MyPlate. 10 Tips: Liven Up Your Meals with Vegetables and Fruits.
- United States Department of Agriculture. MyPlate. Add More Vegetables to Your Day.
- United States Department of Agriculture. MyPlate. What Foods are in the Vegetable Group?