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Eating a variety of fresh vegetables is always desirable, but there are ways to boost their nutritional value even further and Juicing is a preferred choice.

Juicing provides an easy way for you to consume more vegetables and a greater variety of them, as well as providing ALL of those important nutrients in an easily assimilated form. Virtually every health authority recommends that we get six to eight servings of vegetables and fruits per day, but very few of us actually get that. Juicing is an easy way to reach your daily vegetable quota. Raw juice can be likened to a "living broth," as it is teeming with micronutrients and good bacteria that many people are lacking.

When you drink fresh-made green juice, it is almost like receiving an intravenous infusion of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes because they go straight into your system without needing to be broken down. Drinking your juice first thing in the morning can give you a natural energy boost without resorting to stimulants like coffee. Since the juice is so easily digested, it can help revitalize your energy levels in as little as 20 minutes. Juicing is also an excellent way to get your vegetables in if you have issues with fibre, as discussed earlier.

Five Tips for 'Sneaking' More Vegetables Into Your Diet

  1. Grow your own garden. Replace your lawn or shrubs with a vegetable garden—just be careful about your local zoning laws. If a garden is not feasible, join a CSA where you'll get veggies delivered every week.

  2. Put your vegetables on the top shelf of your fridge so you will see them—especially veggies already prepped for snacking on the go. (Sticking a head of cauliflower in the back of the bottom drawer may be a "vegetable death sentence.")

  3. Add vegetables to foods you already love—for example, soups, sauces, stews, chilli, etc. You can even add a green veggie powder to healthy chocolate treats, or try "avocado chocolate pudding." There are many creative recipes online.

  4. As an alternative to juicing, make a "green drink" with a high-quality green vegetable powder.

  5. Don't disregard frozen veggies! They are often picked at their peak and frozen right at the farm, so they can be a nutritious alternative when you run out of the fresh, or a vegetable you want is out of season.

Selecting and Storing Vegetables

Needless to say, consuming vegetables when raw gives you maximum benefits, except a few instances when you need to cook them in order to make the vegetable palatable (e.g. – cauliflower and eggplant). However, vegetables can also be consumed after processing and cooking, although it does take away a small percentage of nutrients. Realistically, consuming it in either way is good for your health. Vegetables are enjoyable, convenient, and adaptable foods that are almost essential in your diet to maintain good, overall health.

Flavours of Vegetables: The green, leafy vegetables come in a variety of colours, starting from the bluish-green of kale to the vibrant kelly green of spinach. The leafy greens have random flavours, ranging from sweet to bitter, and again from earthy to peppery. Collards, bok choy, Swiss chard, and spinach have a mild flavour while mizuna, arugula and mustard greens have a peppery flavour. Bok choy is used mainly in stir-fry dishes, as it remains crisp, even after cooking at a tender stage.

Check The Colour While Buying: Always check the fresh lively green colour of vegetables (or its respective colour) while purchasing. The yellowish tinge indicates aging of the vegetable and they might have an “off” flavour. Salad greens are packed with important nutrients and phytochemicals that support the maximum benefit to our day to day vegetable requirement. Frozen and canned vegetables can be healthy, but canned vegetables have the possibility of carrying excessive sodium. If you buy these, rinse them vigorously under cold water before use.

Look for spots, blemishes, fungal mould and marks of insecticide spray. If you see them, do not buy those vegetables. Always purchase whole vegetables and not cut sections of the vegetable. Also, beware of food contamination and food-borne illnesses while buying vegetables.

Use Them ASAP: You should buy vegetables in small quantities so that you can use them up faster. Certain vegetables have a considerably short shelf life, particularly if you go the health route and buy organic, non-processed vegetables. Also, the healthy nutrients of vegetable start declining over time. After a certain time in storage, harmful bacteria can start growing on vegetables. Moreover, with increased storage time, the vitamin C content in vegetables degrades rapidly, thus hampering its beneficial impact. If you cut and leave vegetables, oxidation will occur as they are exposed to the air. Thus, the enzymes are released and this results in discoloration of the vegetable. However, the vegetables are still perfectly edible and you can stop this oxidation by adding ascorbic acid to the surface areas or by refrigerating the vegetables.

Storing Tips: Do not keep vegetables in hot and humid places. Always keep them refrigerated and pre-cut pieces should be frozen or enclosed by ice. Keep the vegetables in plastic wrappings or in zip pouches to retain the nutrition for short periods, until you use them.

Make sure to rinse all vegetables before eating. In fact, after you have purchased the vegetable, immediately wash it, especially the green leafy ones, as they may have insects or harmful pesticides on them. This extends their shelf life. If you rinse them in salt water for a few minutes, it ensures their ultimate cleanliness. They will then be free from sand, dust and any residual chemical sprays or toxins that they may have been exposed to.

Keep your vegetables completely separate from raw foods like poultry, meat, and seafood. Vegetables should also not be kept in contact with cooking utensils or surfaces like cutting boards etc. You can wrap the green leafy vegetables in perforated plastic or porous paper such as newspaper and then refrigerate them, which increases their shelf life. If you use newspaper, take care that the vegetables are not wet, so the ink from the newspaper does not stick on the vegetables!

Whew! There is a lot to say about vegetables, but mainly, go out and have an adventure in a produce aisle; your body will thank you!

....making effort to "STAY WELL"


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