Vegetables are an indispensable part of healthy eating, truly food for life. There are lots of benefits we can get from eating our daily intake of vegetables.
Many are rich in beta carotene and vitamin C and folate, potassium and other minerals.
High fibre content which regulates bowel function.
Rich in bioflavonoids and other compounds that help prevent diseases.
How much is enough vegetables?
It is high recommended that we eat a lest 5 servings of vegetables daily. A serving is a half cup of raw or cooked vegetables, a cup of leafy salad vegetables or half cup of vegetable juice. Nutritionist recommend choosing a variety of vegetables, both raw and cooked including colored orange, red, dark green and yellow vegetables including allium vegetables such as onions and garlic. When choosing vegetables the main consideration should always be quality. This list features the different kinds of vegetables and some suggestions in buying and storing to enable you to get the most nutrition for your money.
Artichokes – They are at their best when they have plump, compact, olive-green heads and are heavy for their size, with full fleshy, tight closed scales or leaves. To prevent drying, wrap unwashed artichokes in a damp towel and store in plastic bag in the refrigerator. Artichokes provide Vitamin C and low in kilojoules.
Asparagus – Always choose straight spears of uniform thickness with compact pointed tips. Round plump spears are usually more tender than flat ones.Aside from Vitamin C it has some vitamin E and is high in riboflavin thiamin, potassium and iron.
Beans – there are three main groups of beans: green beans, runner beans and broad. Most beans are available all year round. Fresh beans are usually at their best when small and young. Avoid tough, rubbery or discolored beans. Use within a few days. Beans are high in protein, carbohydrates and are also a good source of vitamins A, B1 and B2.
Beetroot – are a deep rich red. They can be served hot, cold, pickled or in salads. Available all year. Choose firm, smooth, globular tubers. Tubers can be refrigerated in the vegetable crisper for up to two weeks, it provide fibre, folate and potassium.
Broccoli – available all year, it should be cooked lightly and quickly to retain its crispness. Buy broccoli with firm compact clusters of closed flower buds- sage green to dark green-and firm tender, light green stalks. Avoid open yellow buds which is a sign of over maturity.
Brussels sprouts – buy as fresh as possible as older ones are more likely to have that strong unpleasant “cabbage” flavor. They should be small and hard with tightly wrapped leaves. Avoid any that are turning yellow or brown or have loose leaves. It is better to buy them as you need them, but will keep for several days in the fridge.
Cabbage – fresh cabbage should have outer leaves of a fresh green or red colour depending on the variety. The crinkly types and red cabbages are generally preferred for salads and coleslaw. Cabbage is rich in vitamin A and C, folatefibre and potassium.
Capsicums – are mild in taste and can be eaten fresh or cooked. Green bell capsicums, which turn bright red when mature are the type most often found in the markets but other sweet capsicum – such as the long, yellow banana capsicum are also available. When buying capsicum always look for firm, thick fleshed and well shaped with a uniform glossy colour
Carrots – Carrots are rich in carotene – a substance that converts to vitamin A. available all year round and always choose firm, straight, bright orange carrots.
Celery – is a plant of many uses and little waste. the leaves and dried seeds make flavourful seasonings, the outer ribs are best cooked the inner ribs or heart can be eaten raw.
Eggplant – known by its French name “aubergine“. Eggplant is purple and pear-shaped. Choose firm smooth plants, heavy for their size, with no scars or flabbiness. Small fruits will have more tender skins and fewer seeds than the larger ones and are excellent grilled whole. Refrigerate eggplant and use within a week. Low in kilojoules, eggplant contains vitamin C, magnesium and potassium.
Garlic – this pungent bulb is a member of the amaryllis family. Its juice contains allicin, a natural antibiotic. Available all year round. When buying, garlic bulbs should be firm and round with clear papery skins, avoid any that are beginning to sprout. Bulbs will keep for weeks in a cool, dry well-ventilated place.
Ginger -Available all year round. To prepare, simply peel away the skin with a sharp knife and grate or thinly slice according to the recipe. Ginger will keep in the refrigerator, loosely covered for two or three months, cut ends might grow mouldy but can be trimmed.
Horseradish – Sometimes called ”German mustard” it is grown for its sharp flavored white roots which contain a volatile oil. Fresh horseradish will keep in the refrigerator for up to three months. it is excellent with hot or cold beef, horseradish sauce is delicious with smoked trout or mackerel or spread thinly on sandwiches with a pate.
Kale – Most kale have thick stems and robust leaves that do form a head. Many kales have curly leaves, which are the variety most commonly eaten. large coarse-leafed kales are grown for cattle and sheep feeds. Kale is frequently teamed with fairly hot spices and is popular in many Indian dishes.
Leeks -There are many varieties of leeks but among them is little difference in flavor. Always buy leeks which look fresh and healthy. The white part should be firm and unblemished and the leaves green and lively, it is best to buy them when you need them. It is important to wash them thoroughly before cooking as dirt and grit lodges itself between the white section at the base.
Lettuce – The numerous varieties of this salad plant namely: round lettuce, butterheads, crispheads, looseheads, little gem and cos lettuce. Eat lettuce as soon as possible after purchasing, in the meantime keep it in a cool dark place such as the salad drawer of the fridge.
Mushrooms – Available all year round. Always buy clean, creamy white or light tan mushrooms, avoid spongy, discoloured or sweaty ones. Refrigerate and use within a day or two. Wipe mushrooms clean but do not peel or soak them. Mushrooms are an excellent low-kilojoule food.
Okra – Commonly known as ladies’ fingers are grown in warm tropical regions. The most notable characteristic is its sticky consistency, which makes it a useful thickener for soups or stews. If steamed quickly the pods will be crisp-tender and not release their sticky juice. When buying okra, avoid tough, fibrous or discolored pods. Rich in Vitamin C and contains folate and magnesium and moderate amount of vitamin A and fibre.
Onions – Available all year and comes in a variety of different colors and strengths. Onions contain a substance which release when they are cut and cause the eyes to water quite painfully. Like garlic they contain cycloalin, an anticoagulant which helps protect against heart disease.
Peas – Available almost all year round. Only buy fresh peas. if they are old they are bound to be disappointing and you would be better off buying them frozen.
Potatoes – there are many varieties of potatoes and potatoes can be cook in different ways such as baking, boiling, chipping, mashing, roasting sautéing and make it into salad. It is good to always store in cool dry place. Potatoes are important source of carbohydrates.
Radishes – belongs to the mustard family, they range from round and red, long and red or white. Used as garnish or can be finely sliced and cooked with other vegetables. Available all year round. Always look for firm, bright radishes. Remove leafy part of the tops and refrigerate in a plastic bag, use within a week. A good source of vitamin C.
Sweet Corn – a variety of maize that has been developed for use as a fresh vegetable, it is sweeter than the common field corn. it is available frozen, both on the cob and in kernels, the kernels are also very popular canned.
Sweet Potatoes – available all year and comes in many varieties but are two basic types: the dry-fleshed with rather mealy, pale yellow flesh and the moist-fleshed with deep yellow to orange-red flesh. Sweet potatoes generally keep well stored in a cool dry place.
Tomatoes – available all year, always look for firm plump fruit, the fresher they look, the better. Refrigerate at once or otherwise they will become mushy. Tomatoes are excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin A.
Turnips – is a member of the cabbage family, are commonly white fleshed with purple tops. Some varieties are grown especially for their leaves, which are richer in nutrients than the roots. Refrigerate turnips to keep for long period.
Watercress – delicate, round-leafed salad plant of the mustard family. It has a distinctive raw flavor both peppery and slightly pungent. Beeds fast flowing clean water to thrive. Choose only tender young leaves without tears and blemishes and use as soon as possible.
Zucchini – also known as courgette. They are also referred to as vegetable marrows in the UK. Green or yellow in color with fine edible skin when young. They are harvested before they grow too large. When fresh they are also a source of Vitamin C.