July is Time for Fresh Healthy Vegetables

In July, New Hampshire farms are growing some of the healthiest fresh vegetables ever. Three of the most colorful vegetables grown here are beets, broccoli and spinach. Here is some useful nutrition information on how to choose and prepare these colorful and nutritious vegetables.

Beets are deep red or white in color. They may be eaten raw or cooked. Choose beets with firm, smooth skins and non-wilted leaves. Smaller beets are more tender. To store beets, remove leaves, leaving about an inch of the stems. Use leaves as greens and eat raw or cooked. Store roots in a plastic bag in refrigerator for up to three weeks. Wash before cooking. Beets are fat free, cholesterol free, low in sodium and an excellent source of folate.

Fun Ways to Enjoy Beets:

  • Bake ‘em! Cut off the green tops, leaving an inch of the stem to prevent bleeding and flavor loss. Scrub beets, wrap them in foil and bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 90 minutes. 
  • Eat the leaves! Add beet leaves to salad greens for more vitamins and minerals.
  • Juice ‘em! Use a juicer and combine the juice of a small beet with one cup of apple juice and/or orange juice.

Broccoli is a yummy and healthy vegetable. Did you know the word is worth at least 12 points when playing Scrabble? Choose odorless broccoli heads with tight, bluish-green florets. Refrigerate broccoli and use within three to five days. Broccoli is low-fat, low-sodium, cholesterol free and high in vitamin C, folate and a good source of potassium.

Fun Ways to Enjoy Broccoli:

  • Bake it. Anytime you’re considering frying, chances are you can bake it instead!
  • Eat the stalks. Yes, they’re nutritious too! Cube broccoli stalks and add to your favorite soup or casserole for extra nutrition.
  • Perfect in pasta. Blanch broccoli florets and add to whole wheat pasta salad before chilling.  Or toss with a little olive oil and add to hot pasta for a delicious dish.

Spinach can be eaten raw in salads and also as a cooked green, like turnip or collard greens. Choose fresh, crisp, green bunches with no evidence of insect damage. To store, loosely wrap spinach in a damp paper towel. Refrigerate in plastic bag and use within three to five days.  Spinach is fat free and cholesterol free. It’s also high in dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, iron and folate and a good source of magnesium.

 Fun Ways to Enjoy Spinach:

  • With stuffed chicken. Stuff chicken with spinach, low-fat cheese and onions. After the chicken is baked, use the spinach mixture as a flavorful side dish.
  • Try a spinach smoothie. Spinach has no flavor, so you can add it in without changing the taste. Just a handful of fresh spinach will boost the nutrition in your favorite smoothie.
  • Spinach pesto. Use spinach instead of basil leaves in your favorite pesto recipe.