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NUTRITIP
Hooray for Hummus!
Hummus, a nutritious blend of chickpeas, olive or canola oil, pureed sesame seeds (also called "tahini"), lemon juice, spices, and garlic is a nutritious dip or spread. Never mind that the label shows a lot of calories from fat, since it contains mostly the healthy, unsaturated fats from healthy oils. If it weren't a heart-healthy appetizer and snack, it wouldn't be so popular in the Middle Eastern diet, a culture with a low incidence of heart disease. Since it's rather filling and high in calories (70 calories per 2 tablespoons), you don't eat hummus by the cupful. Spread it on pita bread or whole-grain crackers, dip vegetables into it, or use it to fill a stalk of celery.

Condensed from AskDrSears.com
VALUE YOUR VEGETABLES
Topics you will find:

7 Reasons Why Veggies are so Good For You
Top 10 Veggies
Top Fiber Veggies
Top Protein Veggies
Top Beta Carotene Veggies
Top Vitamin C Veggies
Top Vitamin E Veggies
Top Calcium Veggies
Top Folic Acid Veggies
Top Iron Veggies
Top Zinc Veggies
Why Tomatoes are Terrific
Cooking and Serving Vegetables
Growing Your Own Garden
 

Your mother always said, "eat your vegetables" and she was right - maybe in more ways than she knew. While you don't have to go all veggie and become a strict vegetarian, one of the healthiest eating habits you can foster in your family is to make vegetables the centerpiece of your meals and let the other food groups accompany them. For many families this may be a switch of mindset from meat and potatoes to potatoes and meat. The animal food is more of a garnish, adding flavor and nutrition to the medley of vegetables and grains. Stirfry is a good example. (Even better would be a combination of fish and vegetables). If you aren't ready to relegate steak and meatloaf to second place, at least make vegetables equal stars in the meal. With interesting and tasty vegetable dishes on the table (and also a variety of starches), your family will gradually begin eating less meat.

1. Vegetables are nutrient dense. Vegetables pack a lot of nutrition into a minimum of calories. For a measly 35 calories (the amount in one little teaspoon of butter), you can get a half cup of vegetables that contains a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, and health-building substances, called phytonutrients - not to mention a lot of flavor. Load up on legumes (the family of beans, peas, and lentils). Second only to soy, legumes are the best plant source of proteins, fiber, and iron, in addition to being high in folic acid.

LOVE THOSE SWEET POTATOES
A good source of protein, fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, folate and calcium, sweet potatoes are a nutritious and tasty family food and merit a place in our "Top Twelve Foods" list. Contrary to their name, sweet potatoes are not botanically a potato, but rather a root. Though white potatoes contain much more niacin, sweet potatoes are overall more nutritious: They are lower in carbs and higher in fiber, beta carotene, folic acid, and calcium. Like potatoes, sweet potatoes are best stored in a cool, dry pantry. If refrigerated, they lose their taste.

2. Veggies are a dieter's best partner. Vegetables get top billing on any fat-control diet because most are "free foods," meaning you can eat an unlimited amount without having to count the calories. Why this lean indulgence? Because of a neat little biochemical quirk that only veggies enjoy: the body uses almost as many calories to digest vegetables as there are in vegetables in the first place. You'll use up most of the 26 calories in a tomato just chewing, swallowing, and digesting it. The leftover calories don't even have a fighting chance of being stored in a fat cell. You'd have to eat entire platefuls of most vegetables before the calories begin to add up.

3. You can fill up for less. Because of the fiber in vegetables, you get fuller faster; which is another reason why it's nearly impossible to overeat veggies.

4. Vegetables are fat-free and cholesterol-free. All vegetables by definition are cholesterol-free and for all practical purposes, fat-free. Over 95 percent of vegetables contain less than a gram of fat per serving, and even that insignificant gram is mostly unsaturated fats.

5. Variety, variety, variety. Let's face it, diversity makes life interesting. Adults, at least, like different foods prepared different ways. (Witness the diversity of ethnic restaurants in any large city. There are hundreds of different kinds of vegetables and even more ways to prepare them.

6. Vegetables provide complex carbohydrates. The energy in vegetables is in the form of complex carbohydrates. These take some time to digest and don't cause the blood sugar highs and lows that sugars do. An exception to this rule is the sugar in beets or corn. (These sugars have a high glycemic index and trigger the insulin cycle.)

NUTRITIP
Hooray for Hummus!
Hummus, a nutritious blend of chickpeas, olive or canola oil, pureed sesame seeds (also called "tahini"), lemon juice, spices, and garlic is a nutritious dip or spread. Never mind that the label shows a lot of calories from fat, since it contains mostly the healthy, unsaturated fats from healthy oils. If it weren't a heart-healthy appetizer and snack, it wouldn't be so popular in the Middle Eastern diet, a culture with a low incidence of heart disease. Since it's rather filling and high in calories (70 calories per 2 tablespoons), you don't eat hummus by the cupful. Spread it on pita bread or whole-grain crackers, dip vegetables into it, or use it to fill a stalk of celery.

7. Vegetables contain cancer-fighting phytos. On paper, a nutrient analysis of vegetables may not look all that special. Sure, there are lots of nutrients in vegetables, but most of these can also be found in other foods, such as fruits and grains. What you don't see in the nutrition charts or on the package labels are the hundreds of valuable nutrients, called phytochemicals, found in plants that have as-yet untold health-promoting properties. New research, especially in the field of cancer, is showing that vegetables are nature's best health foods.

NUTRITIP
What Children See, Children Eat
A nutritional perk that is a boon for busy parents and picky little eaters is the fact that if your child dislikes one food, chances are that she has other favorites that contain the same nutrients. This perk is called "crossover." Fruits, grains, and dairy products will provide your child with everything a vegetable does except for some of the cancer-fighting phytos found mostly in vegetables.

Surveys have shown that children who eat a lot of fruits and vegetables when they are young tend to continue this eating habit when they're adults. But how do you get your children to eat vegetables? Eat them yourself. The more vegetables the adults in the family eat, the more children are likely to eat. As they say, monkey see, monkey eat. And remember, tastes change with age - children who turned down vegetables as babies may eat them when they're toddlers. Keep offering, but don't force the vegetables. If baby refuses squash at six months, offer it again at nine months. Use modeling, not bribery or threats to get your child to eat vegetables. Good eating habits, like good sleeping habits, can't be forced on a child. The best you can do is create a healthy eating attitude in your home and let your child catch the spirit. Your job is to eat and serve lots of vegetables, be excited about them, prepare them in a variety of appealing ways, and dress them up to have kid appeal. The rest is up to your child.

Taking into consideration the following factors - protein, fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, B-vitamins, folate, calcium, zinc, iron, and phytonutrients - here are our top ten veggies in alphabetical order:

Artichokes
Beans (kidney and black)
Beet greens
Broccoli
Chick peas
Lentils
Spinach
Sweet potatoes
Tofu
Tomatoes

Honorable mention: kale, sweet peppers, chili peppers, pumpkin

Artichoke (1 medium) 16 grams
Beans, black, kidney, lima (1/2 cup) 5-8 grams
Lentils (1/2 cup) 8 grams
Chick peas (1/2 cup) 5.3 Grams
Pumpkin (1/2 cup) 3.5 grams
Peas (1/2 cup) 3.5 Grams
Sweet potatoes (1/2 cup) 3.4 grams
 

DV (Daily Value) Children: 10 grams; Adults: 25 grams

Tofu (1/2 cup) 10 grams
Lentils (1/2 cup) 9 grams
Beans, especially black, kidney, and lima (1/2 cup) 6-7 grams
Artichokes (1 medium) 10 grams
Chick peas (1/2 cup) 6 grams

Honorable mention: Other vegetables that rank high in protein per calorie are: broccoli, spinach, brussel sprouts, kale, peas, asparagus, and beet greens.

Sweet potatoes (1) 11.0 mg.
Pumpkin (1/2 cup) 1.8 mg.
Carrots (1) 4.4 mg.
Asparagus (1/2 cup) 2.5 mg.
Squash, winter (1/2 cup) 2.4 mg.
Beet greens (1/2 cup)2.0 mg.
Kale (1/2 cup) 1.5 mg.

DV: 6 mg.

Sweet peppers (1/2, large) 170 mg.
Chili peppers (1) 109 mg.
Brussel sprouts (1/2 cup) 48 mg.
Broccoli (1/2 cup) 41 mg.
Artichoke (1 medium) 30 mg.
Sweet potato (1) 28 mg.

Honorable mention: Tomato, cauliflower, kale, and a potato all have between 20 and 25 mg. of vitamin C

DV: Children: 50 mg.; Adults: 60 mg.

NUTRITIP
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
Take the heat; it's worth it. Recent research shows that the same chemical that flames your throat, capsaicin, is also a potent anti- cancer phyto. Also, chili peppers top the list of vitamin-C-containing vegetables. Prefer sweet peppers? They're also an excellent source of vitamin C.

Tomato paste (1/2 cup) 5.6 mg.
Tomato puree (1/2 cup) 3.0 mg.
Tomato juice (1 cup) 2.0 mg.
Hummus (1/2 cup) 2.2 mg.
Swiss chard (1/2 cup) 1.6 mg.
Greens, mustard (1/2 cup) 1.4 mg.
Kohlrabi (1/2 cup) 1.4 mg.
Spinach (1/2 cup) 1.4 mg.
Pumpkin (1/2 cup) 1.3 mg.
Broccoli spears (1/2 cup) 1.0 mg.
Beans, kidney (1/2 cup) 0.5 mg.

DV:Children: 7 mg.; Adults: 10 mg.

Tofu (1/2 cup, firm) 258 mg.
Spinach (1/2 cup, canned) 136 mg.
Artichoke (1 medium) 135 mg.
Rhubarb (1/2 cup, unsweetened) 133 mg.
Beet greens (1/2 cup) 82 mg.

Honorable mention: Kale, beans, chickpeas, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes have 30 to 50 mg. per serving.

DV: Children: 800 mg.; Adults: 1,200 mg.

Artichoke (1 medium) 153 mg.
Asparagus (1/2 cup, 6 spears) 131 mg.
Lentils (1/2 cup) 118 mg.
Spinach (1/2 cup, canned) 105 mg.
Chickpeas (1/2 cup, canned) 80 mg.

DV: Children under four: 200 mg; Adults and children over four: 400 mg.; Pregnant/lactating women: 800 mg

Tofu (1/2 cup, firm) 5-10 mg.
Artichoke (1 medium, boiled) 3.9 mg.
Lentils (1/2 cup, canned) 3.2 mg.
Beans (1/2 cup, canned) 1.5-2.3 mg.

Honorable mention: Beet greens, chickpeas, pumpkin, and spinach (1/2 cup, canned) all have 1 to 2 milligrams per serving

DV Children: 10 milligrams; Adults: 12-18 milligrams.

These DV's are based upon foods of medium bioavailability, meaning that around 5 to 10 percent of the dietary iron will actually be absorbed into the body (more or less, depending on the self-regulating system of the body's total iron needs). The average child needs to get one milligram of iron into the bloodstreamGreens such as spinach, beet greens, chard, legumes, and some vegetables contain substances called inhibitors, such as polyphenols and phytates, that bind iron, thereby lowering its absorption. The figures above represent the amount of iron in the food, but because of the substances, the amount that actually gets into the body may be much less than the amount on paper. The percentage of vegetable iron absorbed can be increased by eating iron enhancers along with a meal, such as meat and vitamin C- containing foods. For practical dietary purposes, this iron-binding problem is only significant of you eat that food alone. Eating foods, such as spinach, along with a variety of other foods, especially those containing vitamin C, compensate for the theoretical problem of iron binding. Yes, grandmother was scientifically correct when she said "eat a variety of foods together at a meal."

Tofu (1/2 cup, firm) 2.0 mg.
Artichoke (1 medium) 1.47 mg.
Chickpeas ( 1/2 cup, canned) 1.25 mg.
Beans, kidney, lima (1/2 cup) 0.75 mg.

DV: Children: 10 mg.; Adults: 15 mg.

Tomatoes make the "Top Twelve Foods" list, not only for their nutritional qualities, which are many, but because they are so versatile and they're a kid favorite in ketchup and spaghetti and pizza sauce. While some green veggies rate higher on paper than red tomatoes, try getting a cup of kale into kids. Here's why tomatoes are top:

Like that lycopene. The very nutrient that makes tomatoes red - lycopene - is also a top antioxidant. Even though beta carotene gets all the press as a health food, the most powerful cancer-kicking carotenoid is really lycopene. Lycopene delivers twice the antioxidant power of another top antioxidant, vitamin E. Yet, you'd have to eat a hundred times as many calories in vitamin E-containing foods to get the antioxidant power that's in one tomato. Even though lycopene can help lower the risk of all cancers, research to date shows that tomato-based foods are most effective in lowering the risk of prostate cancer.

Tomatoes are usually picked when green, and as they ripen off the vine in transit to your home, they make more lycopene as they get riper and redder. While lycopene is found most abundantly in tomato products, it is also found in guava, watermelon, and pink grapefruit. The body absorbs more lycopene from tomatoes when they are cooked into sauce, paste, and salsa. Lycopene in canned tomatoes is even better absorbed than in raw ones. (This is one of the few foods in which man can do something to it to improve upon Mother Nature.) Tomato processing concentrates the amount of lycopene in the final product. For salad lovers, an additional nutriperk is a bit of oil eaten with the tomato pulls more of the lycopene out of the tomato and into the bloodstream. Cancer researchers believe that this combination is one of the reasons why people on the Mediterranean diet, which combines tomato products with olive oil, have one of the lowest rates of intestinal cancer and one of the longest lifespans.

Tomatoes are one of nature's most nutrient-dense foods. Tomatoes are reported to contain around 4,000 phytonutrients, plant chemicals which pack powerful health properties. In addition to packing a powerful antioxidant profile, a tomato stores a lot of other good stuff in those pithy 26 calories, such as 1/2 gram of fiber, 25% of the RDA for vitamin A, a gram of protein, a bit of vitamin B6, riboflavin, niacin, almost half the RDA for vitamin C (high among veggies), and even a pinch of the minerals: zinc, iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper. It is even low in sodium and high in potassium, which is just what your body needs.

Tomato terms you should know (or may be curious about) Tomato puree is concentrated tomato juice and tomato pulp. If the tomato puree is seasoned, it's called tomato sauce. If the puree is superconcentrated, it is known as tomato paste, which is an even richer source of nutrients such as beta carotene and iron. Sun-dried tomatoes are dehydrated tomatoes. They are sometimes packed in olive oil, both to preserve them and to enrich their flavor.

NUTRITIP
Better Ketchup
If your child is a ketchup addict, as most children are, replace the highly- sugared red stuff with healthier brands that are slightly sweetened with fruit concentrates. At least you'll be getting more tomatoes than sugar. Even ketchups that tout "no refined sugars" contain around the same number of carbohydrates from added sweeteners, (such as pear or apple juice concentrate), as carbs from the original tomatoes. Ketchup can also be used in combination with other nutritious foods, such as a dip for veggies or as a sauce over whole- wheat pasta. So, a few added carbs are okay to sweeten the red stuff.

Also try ketch-oil. Mix a tablespoon of flax oil with three tablespoons of ketchup. Be sure to stir vigorously to mix the oil and ketchup. You can spread it on a sandwich or pour it into a bowl for dipping.

Serve your family a wide variety of vegetables and from all different parts of the plant - roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. The leaves, or greens, of some vegetables, such as beets and turnips, are equally nutritious if not more so than the veggie itself. These greens are high in beta carotene, fiber, vitamin E, calcium, and iron, but they contain only around 25 calories per serving (without added butter or oil).

FRESH OR FROZEN
How food is processed affects its nutritional quality. Generally, the less processing, the better. In nutrient value, fresh is better than frozen, and frozen is better than canned. But there are many exceptions. Much depends upon the time between harvesting, and freezing, and canning. A vegetable that is frozen or canned hours after harvesting may contain more vitamins than a fresh veggie that has had to travel across the country to market. There are various nutritional tradeoffs from packaging and processing. For example, canned and frozen vegetables contain more sodium. Frozen broccoli may contain more beta carotene, since the stalks have been removed, leaving only the florets in the package, but it will have less calcium and more sodium. As often as possible, serve fresh and frozen vegetables to your family, so they get used to the more varied and intense flavors.

Steaming vegetables preserves a lot more of the nutrients and the fresh vegetable taste than boiling, which releases some value nutrients into the water. Microwaving also preserves nutrients in veggies. Consult a reliable cookbook to avoid overcooking. Cover them tightly so they don't lose moisture. Perk up the flavor with seasonings rather than salt and butter. Try lemon juice, onion juice, honey, dill, cinnamon, nutmeg, basil, curry, oregano, and garlic. A bit of olive oil, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, or grated cheese add interest.

Savvy salad. When you're creating a salad, remember that the darker the leaves, the more nutritious the salad. The paler the greens, the fewer nutrients there are. Spinach leaves are a much more nutritious alternative to iceberg lettuce. Romaine lettuce contains about three times the amount of folic acid as iceberg. Although most lettuces and salad greens are similar in the traces of B-vitamins and minerals they contain, there are differences. Here's how salad greens rank, from most nutritious to least: spinach leaves, arugula, watercress, endive, romaine, bib, Boston, and iceberg.

erseers, children can feel like this is primarily their project. They take responsibility for the planting and the care, with a little parental guidance. Of course, they get first pickings in eating the fruits of their labors. Garden-growing gives children a sense of responsibility, the pride of ownership, and they learn valuable lessons about how sun, water, seeds, and soil come together to make food. The big payoff is that kids are more likely to eat the veggies they grow. Our little 6x20 foot sideyard garden has rewarded us with not only hours of family fun, but produce we can trust. Here are some home gardening tips to help you get started:

  • Ask neighbors who have a garden what grows best

    Want to have some family fun - and teach your children about food, nature, hard work, and responsibility? Plant a family garden. While parents are naturally the ov

     in your part of the country and when to plant it. Or, go to a garden store in your community for advice. They can tell you what you need to get your garden going, including gardening books, soil preparation, gardening tools, seeds, plants, and maintenance.

  • Select an area in your yard that gets a lot of sun.
  • Choose fruits and vegetables that will grow well under the conditions you have and that you most like to eat. Because children are impatient, choose at least some vegetables that grow big and fast. For our family, it's zucchini, which can grow bigger than a child's arm overnight, it seems. The vines have big impressive leaves and get into everything. You can make great zucchini pancakes at harvest time- a real family treat! (See ) Put as much color in your garden as you can, such as red tomatoes and peppers, yellow squash and corn, and purple peppers. Pole beans are fun, too. They'll climb a trellis or lean some poles against each other for a leafy teepee.
  • Make a maintenance chart and help your children keep track of when they planted the garden, when they water the garden, and when they take care of other gardening tasks. This record-keeping adds to their sense of diligence. As they see the fruits of their labor, watch their pride sprout.
  • Keep a garden book. Keep track of what you plant and when from year to year, how much you harvest, what grows well, and what fails. Take photos of children at work in the garden and with their harvest.
  • Make first pickings a special occasion. When that first zucchini comes off the vine, make zucchini pancakes the main course. Make a special salad with the first tender lettuce in the spring.
  • If your yard is not suitable for vegetable gardening, you can still plant a mini garden in pots, small and large. This works well for apartment dwellers, too. You can keep your garden on a patio, a balcony, or even the roof. Tomatoes and peppers grow well this way, as do herbs. Even a cardboard box or shoe box can house your mini garden. Set the box in a sunny place, such as the kitchen or bedroom window. Your local garden shop can help you create a mini garden.
  • Sprout some sprouts. Sprouts are kids' favorites, since you can plant a seed on Monday and by the following Sunday the kids can already see their sprouts growing. Radish sprouts should be ready in a week.
  • Beets are fun. The leaves (tasty steamed or raw) are more nutritious than the beet root, with gobs of beta carotene and other phytonutrients. They're a healthy alternative to lettuce on sandwiches, but don't forget to remove the chewy purple stem. Of course, it's fun to discover the deep red beets under the ground, too.
  • If you have several little gardeners, divide the garden into plots and let them name their plants ("Susie's squash" and "Tommy's tomatoes").
  • To have fun with your garden, let the children draw faces with a marker on the produce still on the vine. As the pumpkins or zucchini grow, the eyes get bigger and the smiles get wider.

    Will you save money by growing your own produce? It depends on what you grow and how much money you spend getting started. Even if your produce winds up costing more than what's available at the grocery store, the extra money is worth it. Gardens are great for kids. As they help the garden grow, the garden helps them grow, too.


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    06/27/2009