Want to be healthy? Five servings of vegetables a day isn't going to cut it, according to one of the most extensive studies on vegetable consumption to date. It turns out, seven servings are going to do the most to prolong your life and ward off chronic illness, the study, which was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found.
The best way to eat more vegetables? Make them taste amazing. Got peas? Add prosciutto. Love carrots? Try them with cumin and you'll love them even more. We consulted Paul Kita, co-author of the new cookbook Guy Gourmet: Great Chefs' Amazing Meals for a Lean & Healthy Body who gave us these 9 veggie tricks that will make any meal a masterpiece.
Flavor Enhancer: Prosciutto and mint
Technique: Sauté 2 cups fresh or frozen peas in olive oil until barely tender. Fold in chopped fresh mint and thin strips of prosciutto.
Flavor Enhancer: Sofrito
Technique: Sauté a chopped onion, 4 chopped tomatoes, and 2 minced garlic cloves in olive oil until very soft. Add 2 pounds green beans and simmer until just tender.
Flavor Enhancer: Cumin seeds
Technique: Gently boil ½ cup carrot slices in 1 cup each of water and orange juice, plus 1 garlic clove and ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, until the liquid has thickened enough to cling to the carrots. Finish with 1 tablespoon butter. (Boiling carrots also boosts their antioxidant content. Learn more in The Best & Worst Ways to Cook Your Vegetables)
Flavor Enhancer: Lemon juice
Technique: Using a vegetable peeler, cut ribbons from 1 large zucchini. Place them in a bowl and mix with the juice of ½ lemon, 3 or 4 basil leaves, sliced thin, and a drizzle of olive oil. Mix well and season with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.
Flavor Enhancer: Nutmeg
Technique: Combine 1 cup cream with ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, 3 crushed garlic cloves, and salt and pepper, and simmer until reduced by half. Stir in 2 packages thawed frozen spinach and heat through.
Flavor Enhancer: Brown butter and lemon
Technique: Blanch broccoli in boiling water until crisp tender. Drain. Heat butter in a large skillet, swirling until light brown. Add the broccoli and cook until it's lightly browned. Squeeze in lemon and top with toasted nuts. (Be sure to eat that broccoli with fish. Why? It's one of our 10 Healthiest Food Pairings)
Flavor Enhancer: Mayonnaise
Technique: Fire up a charcoal or gas grill to medium-high. Peel back the husks and remove the silk of the corn, and then re-cover the ears with the husks and soak them in cold water for 10 minutes. Grill the ears for 15 minutes, turning so the husks don't burn. Pull back the husks and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the corn is lightly charred. Paint the ears creating a sheen with the mayo, squeeze some fresh lime juice on top, and dust with chili powder and finely grated Parmesan cheese.
Flavor Enhancer: Bacon
Technique: Blanch halved brussels sprouts in boiling water until crisp-tender. Drain. Crisp some chopped bacon in a skillet, add the sprouts, and cook until lightly browned. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme, if you like.
Flavor Enhancer: Curry powder
Technique: Break a head of cauliflower into florets. Toss with oil and then with 1 tablespoon curry powder. Roast in a 425˚F oven until browned and tender. (Curry also helps clear Alzheimer's-causing plaque proteins from the brain, which is why it's one of these 21 Ways to Feed Your Brain.)
Life's too short to eat bad food, and the more you cook for yourself, the less likely you are to suffer from badly prepared meals made from ingredients saturated in pesticides, sugar, fat, and salt. Learn more tricks to making your organic, farmer's market finds taste great in Guy Gourmet: Great Chefs' Amazing Meals for a Lean & Healthy Body, available from these retailers:
• Barnes & Noble