Kimberly Blaker, contributing writer
We know veggies are vital to our (and our kids’) health, whether we like them or not. But do you know that not all vegetables are created equal? Each one has a unique combination of nutrients and benefits — some, in particular, though, are powerhouse sources of nutrition.
If you or your kids aren’t vegetable fans, that’s all the more reason to try a wider variety. There are bound to be a couple of veggies your family will dig if they’re prepared just right. If those vegetables you learn to love happen to be some of these all- stars, all the better.
This winter squash is loaded with vitamin A, in fact, four times the recommended daily allowance (RDA). It also contains double the RDA of vitamin C and packs more potassium than a banana.
How to eat it: To turn your family into butternut squash fans, first, cut it in half, and remove all the seeds. Then fill a glass baking dish about 3/4″ high with water, place the pieces of squash with the skin facing up, and bake at 400 degrees for one hour. Allow the squash to cool enough to handle it, then scoop it out of the peel and top it with butter. If that doesn’t suffice, try adding a touch of brown sugar.
This dark green leaf packs 684% of the RDA of vitamin K and well over the RDA of vitamins A and B6.
How to eat it: Add a kale mix to the lettuce if your family likes salad. If you’re not salad eaters, kale makes a great addition to smoothies.
Vitamins A, B5, B6, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and carotenoids are their nutritional makeup.
How to eat it: The good news is, Thanksgiving isn’t the only time to eat sweet potatoes. They make yummy french fries, which can even be baked rather than fried. Look for one of the many baked sweet potato fry recipes available online.
These contain a long list of nutrients. Of particular note, peas are very high in vitamins B1, C, and K, manganese, copper, phosphorus, and folate.
How to eat it: Fortunately, peas are one vegetable most kids and adults will eat. Add peas to a variety of soups, stews, and casseroles. Another tasty option is to add them to macaroni and cheese.
Red, orange, yellow, and green bell peppers are all nutritious, whatever the color. All are high in vitamin C, with red bell peppers containing 169% of the RDA. Also, bell peppers are high in vitamin A and carry many other nutrients.
How to eat it: Do your kids live by the motto, “everything tastes better with ranch?” If so, try bell pepper slices for dipping. Bell peppers are also great on pizza and sautéed to go atop hot sandwiches.
This veggie is noted for vitamins K and C, but brussels sprouts also provide numerous other nutrients in decent amounts.
How to eat it: Cut them in half, then stir-fry them in sesame oil with other vegetables. Another trick is to roast them with olive oil and salt.
Folic acid is what asparagus is especially noted for because it contains 60% of the RDA. But asparagus also includes a healthy amount of vitamins K and C, as well as several other essential nutrients.
How to eat it: Grilled asparagus is a tasty side. Before grilling, brush the asparagus lightly with olive oil, then add salt and pepper. Place the spears on the grill for 10 minutes, turn them, then give them a few more minutes until they’re lightly blackened.
Now here’s an impressive number: Spinach contains 987% of the RDA of vitamin K. Spinach is also an excellent source of vitamin A, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, copper, and several other nutrients.
How to eat it: You can add spinach to smoothies and pizza. Spinach quiche and spinach pie are also dishes many kids love.
Here’s another vegetable that’s a rich source of vitamin K, packing 245% of the RDA. Broccoli also exceeds the RDA for vitamin C and is an excellent source of chromium, folate, and fiber.
How to eat it: Mix broccoli into almost any cheesy dish. Broccoli cheese soup, broccoli smothered in cheese, and other cheesy pasta dishes with broccoli added are good options.
Although not a powerhouse of any particular vitamin or mineral, avocado still carries an adequate amount. Particularly notable is that avocado is an excellent source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, which are healthy fats.
How to eat it: Guacamole is an all-time favorite. Avocado is also yummy mixed with egg salad or a tossed salad.
Pumpkin is an outstanding source of vitamin A, containing 2 1⁄2 times the RDA, not to mention a fair amount of a host of other vitamins and minerals.
How to eat it: Numerous desserts can be made from pumpkin. So the next time you’re in the mood to bake, make something with some added nutritional value. Try making pumpkin pie, bread, cookies, or cheesecake.
Also known as spring onions, scallions pack 172% of the RDA of vitamin K. They’re also known for their antioxidants and are a good source of vitamin A.
How to eat it: Scallions can be grilled just like asparagus. Brush them with oil, add salt and pepper, then toss them on the grill until lightly browned. For a special treat, wrap them in bacon.