Veggie Out

By Patrice Powers-Barker, OSU Extension, Lucas County
The Truth Contributor

For the past five years, Green Giant has polled Americans on their favorite vegetables. In 2022, broccoli was listed as America’s favorite vegetable, and it was ranked the top answer in 29 states. The next most popular vegetables listed were corn, carrots, potatoes, and asparagus.

More than two-thirds of the parents (68 percent) say that their kids enjoy eating vegetables. Unfortunately, most Americans do not eat the recommended amount of vegetables. It’s estimated that 10 percent of Americans do eat the recommended amount – are you in that 10 percent?

And according to other surveys, even if broccoli is listed as the favorite vegetable, it isn’t necessarily the most commonly eaten vegetable. In the US, (and worldwide) potatoes and tomatoes are the most widely eaten vegetables. In the US, the next most commonly consumed vegetables are onions, carrots, bell peppers and broccoli. The potatoes and tomatoes are probably not a surprise considering French fries, as well as ketchup, pizza sauce and pasta sauce with tomatoes.

We all know that getting more vegetables in our daily diets is important for our bodies and our health. What are the ways we can add more vegetables to our plate?

  • In the frozen aisle, look for riced cauliflower to replace rice
  • Use raw, sliced carrots, cucumbers, and celery for dipping
  • Top salads with canned beans like chick peas or black-eyed peas

The MyPlate icon reminds, “make half your plate vegetables” when planning meals. This could also include adding more vegetables to main meals such as additional vegetables to stir-fry rice or adding shredded vegetables to pasta sauce or meat balls and meat loaf.

As much as Americans might vote for broccoli – or any of the other vegetables like, corn, carrots, potatoes, and asparagus as their favorite –  the other goal is to include a variety of vegetables on the menu. Don’t eat the same vegetable for every meal. Steam the broccoli, use it to top a baked potato or add small broccoli pieces to a salad and make sure to include a variety of other vegetables.

MyPlate defines any vegetable or 100 percent vegetable juice as part of the Vegetable Group. Vegetables may be raw or cooked; fresh, frozen, canned, or dried/dehydrated; and may be whole, cut-up, or mashed. In order to make sure we’re getting a variety of vegetables (for a variety of benefits), vegetables have been divided into five subgroups. Based on their nutrient content, the subgroups are (1) dark green; (2) red and orange; (3) beans, peas, and lentils; (4) starchy; and (5) other vegetables. The good news about the five subgroups is that there are so many options to help vary your veggies!

As noted above, potatoes are the most commonly eaten vegetable in the world. They are part of the starchy vegetable sub group. Others in that sub group include corn, jicama, raw peas (not dried beans or peas), and plantains In the dark green sub group, options include dark-green leafy vegetables like beet greens, collards, turnip greens, kale, romaine lettuce, and spinach, as well as the favorite, broccoli.

For red and orange vegetables try carrots, chili peppers, red or orange bell peppers, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, 100 percent tomato juice, and winter squash like acorn squash and pumpkin. The beans, peas, lentils include all (dried and cooked) beans like black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, split peas. This does not include green beans or green peas. The green beans are included in the other vegetables which includes a very long list of artichoke, asparagus, avocado, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, garlic, mushrooms, okra, onions, radish, summer squash, tomatillos, and turnips.

With all those options, what are you waiting for? Plan a colorful plate of grilled veggies, a large salad, or add some chopped vegetables to your favorite meals this week.

OSU Extension, Lucas County is offering a new, outdoors community lesson, once a month on the topic of Connecting with Nature in the City. Time outdoors is good for our overall health and wellness! On the fourth Friday of the month (July 22), 10-11am, we will meet outdoors at Uptown Green Park and take time to stroll and experience nature at this 2.5 acre urban park (next to ProMedica Ebeid Center, 1806 Madison Ave, Toledo, OH). It is open to all ages, wear comfortable shoes and clothing and sun protection. Bring a bottle of water. If the weather is not cooperative (storms, etc.) we will cancel. Please register so we know to look for you and to contact you if the weather is bad. Register online or contact Patrice or 419-574-0983.