Summer is a great time of the year for fresh vegetables. However, it can be frustrating when the produce you buy goes bad before you eat it. Here are a few tips that I use to make sure that I actually eat the vegetables that I purchase.
- Use vegetables in recipes even if it doesn’t call for them. For example, if you are making burgers add some minced veggies to the ground meat. A handful for spinach can be mixed right into the ground meat. If you have a food processor use it to make fast work for mincing vegetables. On average, I try to make ¼ of my burgers or meatloaf from veggies. You have to use an egg to help bind the meat, but it is worth the additional veggies in your diet.
- Marinate chopped vegetables in Italian dressing for an easy, colorful side dish. The dressing will soften the veggies and add flavor. The best part of this dish is how easily it can be turned into a complete meal. It can be turned into an antipasta salad and a complete meal by adding cheese, cooked whole grain pasta, and chopped, cooked meat to make it a complete meal. Now you have 4 of the 5 food groups and a vegetable rich meal with little effort.
- Chop veggies up ahead of time and keep them in the fridge with a damp towel placed over them. If they are easier to access, people are more likely to eat them. Eat within 2-3 days.
- If a recipe does call for vegetables, add more. Think of it like this: if you add an additional cup of vegetables to every lunch and dinner, a family of 4 would each get an additional 1/2 cup of vegetables each day. This may not sound like a big deal but the average person in the United States consumes around 60% of the daily recommended amount of vegetables. This would not be a passing grade in school however, adding that extra ½ cup a day would up that percentage to 80%, or a passing grade. Not to mention the added health benefits!
- Use your grill. Vegetables are always good on the grill with some salt and pepper. And make extras. Grilled veggies can be easily added to wraps, pasta dishes, sandwiches, eggs, rice, etc.
- If you have too many vegetables, process them before they go bad. I like to buy spinach by the pound and freeze it right away. Once it thaws it basically melts into dishes, making it great to addition to sauces, eggs, and ground meat. Another great trick is to mince up extra veggies, mix them together and freeze them in one to two cup portions, to be used later. You can also jar or preserve the extra produce. Not only is this a great way to save them but it is also a great skill to have.