NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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More Veggies Please

More Veggies Please!


            “More veggies please” is phrase more of us should be saying.  Americans typically eat only 59 percent of the recommended amounts of vegetables, affecting their overall health. Eating the recommended amounts of nutrient-rich vegetables has positive health benefits. Research has shown that people who eat generous amounts of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthful eating pattern have reduced risk of certain health problems. Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories. None have cholesterol.  Sauces or seasonings may add fat, calories, or cholesterol. Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.


            Some of the health benefits gained by eating a diet rich in a variety of vegetables include:

  • reduced risk for stroke, coronary heart disease, and other cardiovascular diseases
  • reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress in adults
  • reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
  • protection from certain types of cancer
  • reduced risk of developing kidney stones
  • increased protection from bone loss
  • help with weight management


            MyPlate, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food guide system, helps individuals use the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to make smart choices from every food group. The MyPlate message on veggies is, “Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.” With MyPlate, any vegetable or vegetable juice is part of the vegetable food group. Vegetables are the edible part of plants and can be raw, cooked, canned, frozen, or dried.


             One cup of raw, cooked or juiced vegetable; or two cups of raw leafy green vegetables count as one cup from the Vegetable Food Group. Children ages 4-8 should aim to enjoy 1 ½ C. veggies with adults eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables each day. However, the exact amount of food from the vegetable group that you need to eat depends on your gender, age, and how physically activity you are. At www.Choosemyplate.gov you will find the daily calories and cups of vegetables that are recommended for you.


            Tips to Eat More Vegetables

  • Include vegetables in all meals and snacks.
  • Add a vegetable salad or side dish to your lunches and evening meals.
  • Make salads with at least five types of colorful vegetables.
  • Try a main dish salad or stir-fry with vegetables.
  • Add sliced vegetables to breakfast burritos or breakfast omelets.
  • Keep ready-to-eat vegetables in your refrigerator.
  • Pack vegetables in snack packs to take with you.
  • Load up stews and soups with extra vegetables.
  • Grill vegetable kabobs or vegetables in foil as part of a barbecue meal.
  • Include chopped vegetables in pasta sauce for lasagna.
  • Top sandwiches with greens, tomatoes, cucumber, and other vegetables.
  • Shred carrots or zucchini into meatloaf, casseroles, quick breads, and muffins.
  • Try a low-fat or fat-free dressing as a dip with raw broccoli, green peppers, celery, carrots or cauliflower.
  • When eating out choose a vegetable to substitute for a high-fat side dish.
  • Each week select a new vegetable at the grocery store to purchase and try.

            With the summer grilling season in full swing, try adding veggies to your grilling options.


            The following grilled dish has such a wide variety of vegetables that everyone is certain to find their favorite.


Grilled Marinated Veggie Medley


1/2 cup thickly sliced zucchini

1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper

1/2 cup sliced yellow bell pepper

1/2 cup sliced yellow squash

1/2 cup sliced red onion

16 large fresh button mushrooms

16 cherry tomatoes


1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 clove garlic, crushed

  • Place zucchini, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, squash, red onion, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, mix together olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and garlic.  Pour over vegetables. Cover bowl, and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

            Preheat grill to medium heat. Lightly oil grate. Remove vegetables from marinade, and place on preheated grill. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until tender.


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