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The Secrets of Good Vegetables

No matter what you’re eating, chances are that there is a vegetable involved. Vegetables have great health benefits including lower blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancers, lower risk of eye and digestive problems, and an effect on blood sugar that keeps appetite in check. Most are easy to make and are a good side item. It is recommended that your daily serving of fruits and vegetables is around five, but most of us hardly meet that goal in three days, much less five, so it is important to incorporate more into your diet. There are so many types of vegetables to choose from, there’s no excuse not to eat them. Also for each and every vegetable there are multiple ways to cook it! You can sauté, grill, fry, bake, or steam vegetables, just to name a few. Here’s what I recommend!

Asparagus

Asparagus is one of my absolute favorite vegetables that I just recently discovered. It is low in calories and low in sodium making it a great option. I love to sauté them because it takes less than ten minutes and requires only a few things that you probably already have lying around the kitchen. Just grab a skillet, some olive oil, salt, pepper, seasoning of your choice (I prefer Mrs. Dash), and some asparagus. I typically get a bundle of stalks from the grocery store and split it into two serving sizes of around 10-12 stalks each. All you have to do is wash it, and break it before sautéing. Asparagus has a natural breaking point, so wherever it naturally breaks is the right place. Once you have done this, put them in the pan with your olive oil tossing them occasionally for around 8 minutes. I have found that this is the ideal cooking time. About halfway in add some salt and pepper and your seasoning and toss it around a few times and voila, you have a simple and easy side of asparagus to accompany your entrée.

Carrots
One thing that is well known about carrots is the abundance of Vitamin A which improves eyesight. Carrots are also rich in antioxidants. One thing that is good about carrots is that you can eat them raw, but when eating a hot meal, they are best served cooked in some way. I like to personally steam carrots when eating them as a side. Steaming carrots is also very simple. You need a steamer basket and a large pot. You fill the pot with enough water to just about reach the steamer basket. Once the water is boiling, you add the vegetables and place a loose lid on top. Steam the carrots for about 6-8 minutes and when finished, you can top with a little bit of seasoning to give them a little flavor. Steaming carrots gives them a more soft texture as opposed to the hard texture of a raw carrot.

Carrot Chips

1. Peel Carrots into thick slices
2. Toss slices in olive oil and salt
3. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes
4. Cool and enjoy

Green Beans
My grandmother has her own garden, so I am typically spoiled when it comes to green beans. She cans hundreds of these babies a year and I get around half of them. Although green beans are typically healthy, they can get on the unhealthy side fast when using bacon. I typically cook them with bacon because I love the flavor, but you can also use onions and olive oil just as easily. When I cook green beans, I take about 2-3 strips of bacon and cook them for around 2-3 minutes in a pan (just enough to get the juices out). Next, I add the green beans and cook them with a lid on top for about 5 minutes, then turning the heat down to medium-low and letting them cook for another 15 or so minutes. The longer you let them simmer, the more flavor it brings out. They are that easy. If you prefer not to use bacon, just repeat the same procedure with onions and olive oil. 

Arkansas Green Beans
Nancy Creative

Ingredients:
• 5 cans green beans drained
• 12 slices bacon
• 2/3 cup brown sugar
• ¼ cup butter, melted
• 7 teaspoons soy sauce
• 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Place green beans in baking pan
3. Cook bacon in frying pan on stove top or in microwave until cooked enough to chop into large pieces; sprinkle on top of green beans
4. Combine brown sugar, melted butter, soy sauce, and garlic powder in small bowl. Pour mixture over green beans and bacon
5. Bake for 40 minutes

Corn

I could eat corn any way, but the best I’ve found is grilled corn on the cob. Select a few good ears of corn (depending on the number you wish to serve) and peel back some of the husk. You want to leave some layers of husk for protection, so don’t peel them all off. Soak them in cold water for about 15 minutes while preparing your grill. After this, pull back the husks (don’t remove them) and brush the kernels with olive oil or butter. Then, place them on the grill with the husks over the kernels, medium heat, rotating occasionally and cook for about 15 minutes. When the husk gets dark and begins to pull away from the kernels, they are done. Remove the husks and silk and rinse the corn under warm water to remove any excess from the grill.

So here are a few of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables. I hope you enjoy and this helps you expand your diet to include more vegetables. 

 

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