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The latest USDA news states that we should fill 30% of our lunch & dinner plates with vegetables while other health advocates recommend that up to 75% of our plates be filled with plant-based foods. So how do we keep things healthy and exciting while expanding our horizons beyond the “old reliable” carrots, potatoes, and broccoli? Here are five “new” vegetables to try on your menu:

  • Eggplant: OK, so the eggplant itself is not new, but it’s often been cast aside because it is kind of a troublesome vegetable. Remember when we were told that we needed to “salt” the eggplant before preparing it? Salting will remove the moisture, but it’s not a necessary process. Instead, cook the eggplant quickly after it’s been cut to prevent browning (oxidation). To try: Enjoy it roasted, broiled or grilled or as central element in dishes such as Eggplant Parmigiana, Eggplant Curry, Baba Ganoush or Ratatouille.
  • Kale: Found alongside the other green leafy vegetables, kale is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetable on the planet. It is full of nutrients and rich with vitamins A, C and K. Eaten raw, kale may seem pretty tough unless chopped very finely. To try: Replace or combine kale with any recipe you have that uses spinach, Swiss chard or any other leafy green.
  • Shallots: Shallots are considered root vegetables because the bulbs grow underground. They have more anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins than onions. Served raw, shallots have a more garlicky bite than onions and are a fun way to jazz up salad dressings. To try: Chop a shallot and let it soak in apple cider vinegar for 20 minutes to make a simple, fat-free and yummy salad dressing.
  • Avocado: People traditionally shy away from avocados because they feel avocados are hard to find at the perfect ripeness. Here’s a simple test; an avocado is at its best when it feels squishy. Also, pull off the stem nub; if it is not dried out, the avocado is perfect! To Try: Instead of spreading saturated fat from mayonnaise or butter on a sandwich, spread some monounsaturated fatty acid from a ripe avocado on your sandwich bread.
  • Cauliflower: Don’t give up on cauliflower. This nutritional and heart healthy veggie has come a long way since the days of serving it boiled and topped with a cheese sauce. We are now smarter about thinking of new ways of serving it. To try: Replace rice with grated cauliflower in “fried rice” or use it by substituting potatoes with cauliflower to make mock mashed potatoes.

 These vegetables will not only fill your plate, they will fulfill your palate and your appetite. Enjoy and let us know what new vegetables you are exploring. Fiddle heads? Garlic scapes? Let us know below in the comments!

 HumanaVitality is not an insurance product. Guest post written by Anne-Marie Kovacs & Audrey van Petegem of The Succulent Wife