To celebrate, it’s time to get our green on. While nutritionists advise “eating the rainbow” because of the variety of nutrients that can be found in red, yellow, purple, orange and green vegetables, let’s focus on that last color and the some of the fruits and veggies that come in that hue. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers some healthy recipes; you can also do an Internet search to find out how to incorporate more veggies into your diet.
The most obvious vegetable that is paired with St. Patrick’s Day is cabbage, which is a great source of vitamin C and vitamin K and a moderate source of vitamin B6 and folate. Consuming folate, or folic acid, is especially recommended for pregnant women and women who plan to become pregnant as a nutrient that helps prevent birth defects in babies.
You don’t have to necessarily pair the cabbage with corned beef, either. You can make a healthy coleslaw and put it on hot dogs, West Virginia-style, while you watch the WVU Mountaineers and the Marshall Thundering Herd play in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Friday—and, hopefully, go head-to-head in the second round on Sunday.
Of course, there are plenty of other healthy and tasty green options out there. One of my favorites is avocados. Avocados are a good source of several B vitamins as well as vitamins K, C, E and potassium. They also are about 67 percent monounsaturated fat as oleic acid. The monounsaturated fat fights cardiovascular disease and oleic acid lowers risk for breast cancer.
The great thing about avocados is that you can include them in just about any meal of the day or eat them as snack. I put it on toast in the mornings to get some veggies in early. You can keep it simple or also add some smoked salmon or tomato or whatever else appeals to you. Google “avocado toast” and the possibilities are endless. They are also tasty in a salad, by themselves, and, of course, as the main ingredient of guacamole, which is another easy and delicious snack to have around while watching sports. Just mash up ripe avocados and other ingredients to taste, such as tomatoes, chiles, onions, garlic, black pepper and/or a splash of lemon juice.
Asparagus is another spring vegetable that’s usually available year-round these days. It’s chock full of vitamins A and K and folate, plus it’s a good source of iron and dietary fiber. For me, it’s another versatile food. I often chop it up and sauté it in olive oil and put it in a salad with goat cheese. I sometimes make my mac and cheese healthier with asparagus too. You can also steam it or roast it.
And it may not seem like it now, but a spring thaw should be taking place soon. That means it will be smoothie season. A very refreshing green smoothie can be made by combining Granny Smith apples, orange juice, avocado, spinach and fresh mint in a blender. The spinach just adds nutrition while the apples and mint also provide flavor and the avocado, texture.
Those are just some of my favorite springtime uses for green vegetables. What are some of yours?