Breaking news: vegetables are good for us. The Choose My Plate initiative from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that women 18 and older eat anywhere from two to two and a half cups of vegetables per day, while men should be eating up to three cups, depending on their age. It’s easy to fall short of that goal, especially when you get sick of eating the same old sautéed greens or salads. It’s time to get creative and find new ways to eat our vegetables.
Kale popularity shows no signs of slowing down. Earlier this year, Time magazine pointed out that kale is a great source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin A and calcium, and a recent report from The Daily Mail claims that kale could be a formidable cure for hangovers, as it is a good source of vitamin E, which helps the immune system bounce back from a night of partying. If that’s not reason enough to get your kale on, I don’t know what is. There are the usual suspects, including kale salads and smoothies, but we can all do better than that. I like some variety in my hangover cure.
Ready to get weird? Try Choosing Raw’s Kale-nola recipe. It is exactly what the name suggests: a hearty granola laced with kale throughout. Oh, and did I mention there is chocolate involved? Total cereal nostalgia, down to the chocolate milk left in the bowl to slurp up after eating all the kale-nola. Sliced banana complements the chocolate wonderfully.
For a savory option, try the Crispy Kale Pizza recipe from A Beautiful Mess. Essentially, it’s a traditional pizza topped with kale chips, and it is mighty tasty. The trick here is to salt your kale chips well without getting overzealous. Topped with a fried egg, say, after a night of drinking, this dish definitely stands up to the classic egg and cheese sandwich as a post-party breakfast.
Speaking of kale-egg combos, I love the green take on this healthy Kale Pesto Egg Salad from Damn Delicious. The kale adds freshness to the rich egg salad, and you will have plenty of leftover pesto for a nice pasta dinner afterward. This is also a great way to use up kale that’s lost a bit of its crispness.
Cabbage is a nutritional powerhouse. According to Men’s Health, raw cabbage contains only 22 calories a cup and helps protect the body against free radicals, and Selfreveals that cabbage is loaded with nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber and folate.
For a spicy take on cabbage, try this recipe for Quick Kimchi from the book Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Favorites by Jaden Hair, posted by Jennifer Yu on her food blog Use Real Butter. As Yu says, it’s more of a pickle than a traditional kimchi, but it emulates the flavors of kimchi without the wait. The ingredients are readily available at most grocery stores, and Sriracha sauce is an excellent substitute for chili paste. The balance of sweet, spicy and tangy is pure perfection, gorgeous garlic and ginger present in every crisp bite. Kimchi is a great addition to noodles, rice and sandwiches, but it’s also substantial enough to be the star of the show. Momofuku Milk Bar chef Christina Tosi recently shared a recipe for Kimchi Quesadillas with Vice magazine’s foodie website, Munchies. This dish is bold and unapologetic but completely balanced. It turns out blue cheese and kimchi are the perfect pairing.
Brussels sprouts are small in stature but big on nutrition. According to the USDA, a single serving of four sprouts contains more than a day’s worth of vitamin C and 12 percent of the daily recommended dose of fiber. They are delicious when roasted or sautéed on their own, but combining them with pears takes this little wonder veggie to the next level. Try this yummy pairing at home with the Cookie Rookie’s recipe for Pear and Blue Cheese Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Vegans, feel free to omit the cheese and enjoy this dish, too. I also added a generous amount of cinnamon, but you can sprinkle to taste.
Eating your greens has never been so appealing. Tell us: what vegetable recipes have made their way into your kitchen?