Taste the Rainbow

Expand Your Palate with New Colorful Veggies

Americans’ vegetable habits are in a rut. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 50 percent of the vegetables and legumes available in this country in 2013 were either tomatoes or potatoes. Lettuce came in third, according to new data released in 2015, advises Tracie McMillan, author of The American Way of Eating.

Further, 87 percent of U.S. adults did not meet basic vegetable serving recommendations from 2007 through 2010, a fact cited in the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey. Yet, urban supermarkets overflow with a wealth of common and exotic vegetables, often displayed side-by-side: broccoli and broccolini, green bell and Japanese shishito peppers, and iceberg lettuce and leafy mâche, or lamb’s lettuce.

Trying one new vegetable dish a week is a great way to increase our vegetable literacy, says functional medicine expert Terri Evans, a doctor of Oriental medicine in Naples, Florida. “Our diet should be 60 percent produce—40 percent vegetables and 20 percent fruit,” she says. “To keep this sustainable for the long term, we should eat what tastes good, not what we think is good for us. Some days, we crave the sweetness of carrots; other days, the bitterness of artichokes or the heat of hot peppers. Our bodies can tell us what we need.”

Keep Expanding Choices

Going Green. Dark green and slightly peppery arugula is good with a little olive oil and lemon juice. Finely shredded Brussels sprouts bulk up a mixed salad, while adding the benefits of a cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetable. Instead of mineral-rich baby spinach, try baby Swiss chard, suggests Matthew Kadey, a registered dietician in Waterloo, Ontario. He also suggests microgreens, the tiny shoots of radishes, cabbage, broccoli and kale, all rich in vitamins C and E.

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