Have You Ever Wondered J

. . . if cooking ever makes vegetables or fruits more nutritious? Cooking won't add nutrients (unless ingredients are added) to a food, but can make food safer and perhaps more edible and appealing. For example, you probably prefer eating a potato that's cooked, not raw.

Sometimes cooking enhances nourishment. For example, lycopene, a phytonutrient in tomatoes, is absorbed in the body better from cooked or processed tomatoes; lycopene may offer protection from some cancers. Carotenoids (form vitamin A) are more available for absorption when cooked, as is lutein, a phy-tonutrient in corn.

  • Get creative with pizza. Order or make it "deluxe" with vegetable toppings: asparagus, broccoli florets, carrot shreds, thinly sliced zucchini, chopped spinach, red and green bell pepper strips, chopped tomatoes, roasted peppers, or other firm veggies!
  • Bake with fruits and vegetables. Use pureed fruit such as applesauce, dried plums (prunes), bananas, or peaches in place of about half the fat in recipes for homemade breads, muffins, pancakes, and other baked goods. For flavor, texture, and nutrients, blend in shredded zucchini, carrots, or dried fruits.
  • quot;Sandwich" in fruit and vegetables. Add pizzazz to sandwiches by layering on sliced pineapple, apple, raisins, peppers, cucumbers, sprouts, or tomatoes.
  • Combine with veggies or fruit. Make a quick stir-fry or combine pasta or rice with just about any vegetables, or add them to soup—great ways to use fresh vegetables before they spoil. Add apricots, pineapple, other fruit, or fruit chutney to meat or poultry dishes. Hint: Add canned, frozen, or cooked legumes.
  • Experiment. Substitute a new-to-you fruit or vegetable in a favorite recipe. Try broccoli rabe (broccoli variety with smaller heads, also called rapini) in stir-fries, fennel in salad, or yautia (a starchy vegetable) in stew. Or try a new fruit or vegetable recipe.
  • Take a fruit to lunch! Make a habit of tucking an apple, a tangerine, two plums or kiwifruit, grapes, cherries, dried fruits, or other fruit into your briefcase, tote, or lunch bag. Fruit is a great traveling snack.
  • Stuff an omelette with veggies. For a hearty meal, fill it with crisp, tasty vegetables like broccoli, squash, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, spinach, or onions.
  • Toss up a vegetable salad. Add colorful vegetables, legumes, and fruits (such as berries, kiwifruit, or mandarin oranges). Even if you prefer iceberg lettuce, which delivers less nutrients than other greens, pair it with other veggies—sliced beets, shredded red cabbage, spinach leaves, baby carrots.
  • Count your beans. If you consume enough protein-rich foods from the Meat and Beans Group, legumes can count in the Vegetable Group. Add cooked, canned, or frozen beans, peas, or lentils to salads, casseroles, and pasta dishes. Puree cooked beans as a low-fat base for spreads, sauces, and soups.
Green Smoothies

Green Smoothies

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