FOOD & HEALTH — Eat more dark-green veggies for St. Patrick’s Day and beyond

Kayla Colgrove, MS, RDN, ACSM-CPT, Extension Educator, Lancaster Co.

Most Americans age 2 and older do not eat the recommended amounts of vegetables. Vegetables provide vitamins and minerals and most are low in calories and fat, so it is important to add more vegetables to your meals and snacks.

VARY YOUR VEGGIES
The most commonly eaten vegetables are potatoes and tomatoes according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It is important to vary your veggies throughout the week by eating from the five vegetable subgroups: dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas), starchy and other vegetables (see Table 1). These vegetables are grouped together based on their nutrient content. Most Americans do not eat enough of dark-green, red and orange vegetables, and beans and peas. Try to focus on fitting more dark-green vegetables into your day.

4 WAYS TO ADD MORE DARK-GREEN VEGGIES
• Add spinach to a smoothie.
• Dip fresh broccoli in hummus, yogurt-based dip or another low-fat dip.
• Not used to eating salads with leafy dark greens? Try mixing romaine lettuce, spinach or baby kale with a lettuce you normally use.
• Liven up a pasta dish, stir fry, omelet or salad by adding spinach or chopped broccoli.

One of my favorite green smoothie recipes is the Clover Power Smoothie (see recipe in this e-newsletter). Try this simple green smoothie for a fun and festive way to add dark-green vegetables by using spinach.

Sources:
• 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines
• Choose MyPlate. USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. http://www.choosemyplate.gov


TABLE 1: EXAMPLES OF VEGETABLES IN EACH VEGETABLE SUBGROUP:

Dark-green vegetables: Broccoli, spinach, leafy salad greens (including romaine lettuce), collards, bok choy, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, green herbs (parsley, cilantro)

Red and orange vegetables: Tomatoes, carrots, tomato juice, sweet potatoes, red peppers (hot and sweet), winter squash, pumpkin

Legumes (beans and peas): Pinto, white, kidney, and black beans; lentils; chickpeas; lima beans (mature, dried); split peas; edamame (green soybeans)

Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, corn, green peas, lima beans (green, immature), plantains, cassava

Other vegetables: Lettuce (iceberg), onions, green beans, cucumbers, celery, green peppers, cabbage, mushrooms, avocado, summer squash (includes zucchini), cauliflower, eggplant, garlic, bean sprouts, olives, asparagus, peapods (snowpeas), beets

Source: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans