Green beans are a popular side dish and a welcome addition to salads. Each cup of cooked snap green beans contributes 4 grams of fiber, 100 milligrams of plant omega-3s, 875 IU of vitamin A (some of which is from beta carotene), 41 micrograms of folate, and 55 milligrams of calcium. You'll get all of those nutritional benefits for only 44 calories.
- To buy: Look for fresh, well-colored beans. If they're limp and don't snap, put them back.
- To store: Keep green beans in a plastic bag in the refrigerator; try to use within a week.
- To cook: Snap off ends by hand or trim off with a paring knife. Green beans can be cooked whole or cut into 2-inch diagonal slices. Cook until tender-crisp in the microwave, stir-fry in a nonstick pan with a small amount of oil; or blanch (plunge into boiling water briefly until just tender, then rinse in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process).
Spinach, a member of the powerhouse "dark green leafy vegetable" group, is loaded with antioxidants such as beta carotene (3,375 micrograms per 2 cups of fresh chopped), vitamin C (17 milligrams) and folate (116 micrograms). Two cups of fresh chopped spinach also has a good dose of calcium (59 milligrams) and omega-3 fatty acids (100 milligrams).
- To buy: Look for crisp green bunches without insect damage or browning.
- To store: Loosely wrap bunches of spinach in a damp paper towel and refrigerate in a plastic bag. Use within a few days. The most convenient way to buy spinach is prewashed in bags. When buying these bags, check the "sell by" date.
- To cook: Cook until it shrinks down but stays bright green, in the microwave, or a nonstick frying pan over medium heat with a couple of tablespoons of water, broth, or wine.