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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!
spinach bulgur

How to Dress Up Vegetables

I have to admit it; I'm not a huge veggie eater, and if I had to pick between a plate full of vegetables or a bowl full of fruit, I'd choose the fruit 99.9% of the time. But I also recognize that vegetables are essential to the diet. They are jam packed with dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting antioxidants. However, finding a way to get them on the plate and in the tummy can sometimes be a challenge. That's where I've found that "dressing up" veggies to make them flavorful and delicious is essential.

Steaming frozen or fresh vegetables in the microwave is easy, but can be a bit boring night after night. Seasoning vegetables can turn what might be a boring side dish into something more palatable. Try adding shredded Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper. Garlic powder and cayenne pepper can add a bit of spice, or try sodium-free seasoning blends, such as Mrs. Dash® or McCormick's Perfect Pinch® Salt Free seasonings.

But if you desire more of a sauce, try marinara, taco sauce or hot sauce. Plus, marinades don't have to be just for meats; use them or a salad dressing, such as Asian Sesame dressing, to flavor your vegetables. You can also make your own dressing with olive oil and flavored vinegar. Then toss with feta or mozzarella cheese and nuts, such as toasted almonds or pine nuts, for a bit of a crunch.

If you're tired of always steaming your vegetables try roasting, pan-frying, or grilling them tossed with olive oil and fresh garlic to take on a whole new flavor. Pairing two complimentary vegetables or a vegetable with a fruit can also add flavor. Try green beans and tomatoes, zucchini and summer squash or spinach and orange sections (recipe below!)

And don't forget about those cold raw veggies, which can easily be packed into a sack lunch. Try them dipped in hummus, re-fried beans, any salad dressing, salsa, or smashed avocado. Vegetables are easy to devour with these easy ideas. If you have trouble getting in your spinach, try this nutrient packed recipe which contains 4 out of 5 food groups. Can you name them all?

The picture above shows last night's dinner (grilled salmon seasoned with black pepper and freshly squeezed lemon, and Bulgur with Spinach and Oranges).

Bulgur with Spinach and Oranges (Printable PDF)

½ cup bulgur

¼ cup water

4 cups coarsely chopped spinach

¼ cup low-sodium vegetable broth

1 cup canned mandarin oranges, drained

½ cup nonfat yogurt

1 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. minced onion

2 tsp. olive oil

½ tsp. ground cumin

1/8 tsp. black pepper

1 tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)

In a 2 quart saucepan over high heat, bring water to a boil; stir in bulgur. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Add the spinach, stock, and oranges. Simmer over low heat for 2 – 3 minutes, or until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat. In a small bowl, mix yogurt, vinegar, onions, oil, cumin, and pepper. Pour over the bulgur. Mix well. Sprinkle with sesame seed, if desired.

Nutritional Information per serving: 140 calories, 4g Total Fat (0g saturated fat), 0mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 23g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 5g protein.

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Vegetables are possibly the most important food group. Weather attempting to lose fat, gain muscle, or maintaining overall health. Veggies are chalk full of vitamins and minerals that aid in various bodily functions. I usually chop up some carrots, broccoli, collards and spinach and mix them with my chicken. If I feel that things are too plain, Ill aid a sauce made of real tomatoes, some cumin, garlic, and a hint of pepper. Thanks for the recipe above. I will have to try it.
by D Singh on Monday 5/20/2013