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Learning to Love Veggies

Despite their status as nutrition superheroes, vegetables rarely find themselves on personal favorite lists. Some adults still shun vegetables, setting a less-than-perfect example for children around the table while missing out on the health benefits for themselves.

The WebMD Weight Loss Clinic recommends aiming for five servings daily. If you have trouble fitting in that many, try some of these suggestions -- or come up with your own creative solutions:

  • Add sliced tomatoes, lettuce, sprouts, sliced red peppers, or shredded carrots to sandwiches.
  • Munch pickles, jicama, baby carrots, celery, or grape tomatoes as snacks.
  • Drink vegetable juice.
  • Slip a variety of vegetables into salads, soups, stews, tomato sauce, and meatloaf.
  • Enjoy salads before meals. When you start off with a large, low-calorie green salad, you may end up eating fewer total calories during the meal, according to research.
  • Roast veggies with a little olive oil for an interesting variation in taste.
  • Try grilled vegetables, which are delicious alone or added to pasta dishes.
  • Add nutrition to breads and muffins with shredded vegetables such as zucchini or carrots.
  • Experiment with new vegetables to add variety to your repertoire.
  • Use leaves of dark lettuce instead of bread to hold sandwich or burrito fillings.

Raw vs. Cooked

Raw vegetables are high in fiber and low in fat and calories. And vegetables that can be eaten raw retain the maximum amount of nutrients.

Cooking vegetables kills bacteria, renders certain vegetables digestible, enhances taste, texture, and aroma -- and, in the process, loses some of the vitamins and minerals.

To retain the most nutrients, cook your vegetables in the least amount of water and for the shortest period of time possible. Microwaving is one of the best methods, as it's quick and requires little to no water.

Before you start chopping or cooking, it's important to properly prepare your produce. Along with all those nutrients come some risky residues that need to be washed away. So carefully wash all your vegetables -- scrubbing them or washing them with a forceful stream of water or a bottled vegetable wash -- to remove bacteria and any chemical residues from the outer layer.

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