Tired of broccoli and bananas? Try varying the produce you toss in your basket, and you might stave off boredom and pump up your diet with extra vitamins and minerals. “Shop for veggies in categories, such as leafy greens or root vegetables, and every week try a new one from each category,” suggests Susan Baldassano, director of education at the Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York. Get started with one of these six simple swaps.
Usual pick>> Carrots
Try>> Other root vegetables, such as parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips
Why>> Root vegetables are rich in minerals. To benefit from these minerals, slow-cook a variety of root veggies in a stew, suggests Ron Pickarski, president of Eco-Cuisine, a natural foods consulting agency in Boulder, Colorado, and author of As You Like It Cookbook (Square One, 2001).
Usual pick>> White potatoes
Try>> Sweet potatoes or Peruvian blue potatoes
Why>> Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, and all potatoes are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. Baldassano recommends peeling, thinly slicing, then baking potato varieties with olive oil and salt at 350 degrees for about ten minutes.
Usual pick>> Lettuce
Try>> More unusual dark greens, such as arugula or chicory
Why>> Dark greens are a good source of calcium. Add them raw to your salad mix, or lightly sauté to bring out their natural sugars and lessen their bitter flavor.
Usual pick>> Cucumbers
Try>> Daikon, a white radish often used in Asian cuisine
Why>> Daikon has a satisfying crunch similar to cucumbers, but it is a much better source of folate, vitamin C, and potassium. Nora Pouillon, chef and owner of the renowned restaurants Nora and Asia Nora in Washington, D.C., recommends pairing daikon with a dressing spiked with ginger, soy, and sesame.
Usual pick>> Spinach
Try>> Bok choy
Why>> “Bok choy is versatile and very high in calcium,” says Baldassano. “You can braise it in a nice stock, you can chop it up and stir fry it with vegetables, or, if you slice it paper thin, you can eat it raw.”