Updated February 18th, 2020
We’ve been hearing since we were kids that we should eat our vegetables. That old advice is still true, modernized to the catchy slogan, “eat the rainbow.”
Adding colorful foods to our plates delivers important vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and minerals that help us stay well. And most vegetables are naturally low in calories, fat and gluten. There’s only one caveat to eating more vegetables, and that’s knowing how they interact with the drugs we take. Talk to your doctor to verify that the vegetables and other foods you enjoy don’t impact your medications.
Fresh vegetables are the best options because they have more nutrients and no additives. Frozen vegetables – without sauces – can be good alternatives, especially for those of us living with arthritis. Canned vegetables are the trickiest choice because of the salt, sugar and additives they’re packed in, which can be especially troublesome for people with heart issues and diabetes.
Here’s some advice for cooking delicious and healthy vegetable dishes that add more color and health to your diet.
How to roast sweet potatoes and other vegetables
Roasting vegetables makes them even tastier. Sweet potatoes are an excellent choice for this technique. Preheat your oven to 450°. Toss cubed potatoes with olive oil, salt/salt substitute and pepper and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Cook until tender and browned -- about 35–45 minutes – and toss occasionally.
Try different vegetable combinations such as butternut squash and shallots; or green beans, onions and fingerling potatoes. You can even put roasted vegetables and a little broth or water in the blender and make a delicious soup. Arthritis or shaky hands? Look for freshly cubed or chopped vegetables in your grocer’s produce section.
How to cook asparagus and other vegetables
Increase flavor, preserve nutrients and decrease mushiness with blanching. This technique involves immersing vegetables into boiling water, cooking briefly until color is vibrant and then cooling quickly. Great for broccoli, cauliflower or green beans, it’s especially good for asparagus. Blanched vegetables also make great additions to salads.
Add about half an inch of water to a frying pan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, trim the bottom of the asparagus stalks. When the water boils, use tongs to carefully place asparagus in a single layer in the pan. Lower to a simmer and cook for a few minutes until the asparagus turns bright green. Drain, then cool under running water. Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt/salt substitute and pepper.
How to make mashed potatoes even better
Boost your favorite mashed potato recipe with some creative substitutions. Replace half the potatoes with sweet potatoes and proceed with your usual recipe. Or add even more flavor by replacing one-quarter of the potatoes with fennel bulbs.
Trim off the fennel stalks and cut the bulb into thin slices. Boil with sliced potatoes until tender. Drain, mash or process as usual.
With the wide variety available today, it’s easier than ever to eat and enjoy your vegetables. Ask your doctor for a referral to a nutritionist and get even more ideas that meet your specific health needs and taste buds.
Don’t disregard professional medical advice, or delay seeking it, because of what you read here. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional consultation, diagnosis or treatment; it is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Always consult a healthcare provider if you have specific questions about any medical matter, and seek professional attention immediately if you think you or someone in your care may be suffering from a healthcare condition.