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Have You Had Your Vegetables Today?

Hands slicing a cucumber on a wooden cutting board.

Nashville, Ark. – Think about what you ate yesterday. How many times did you eat vegetables? Think about what you have eaten today. Have you had any vegetables? Remember when your mother told you, “Eat your vegetables”? She knew the importance of eating vegetables every day. This advice has not changed. Vegetables are loaded with key nutrients such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, iron, folate and dietary fiber.

About one third of the Vitamin A in our diets come from fruits and vegetables. Carrots, kale, collards, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, romaine lettuce, spinach, sweet potato and winter squash are high in Vitamin A. You may notice all these vegetables are dark green or deep orange in color and most are at their peak in Fall. Vitamin A is important to help your eyes see normally in the dark, protect you from infections and work as antioxidants to help reduce your risk for certain cancers.

 Vegetables which are high in Vitamin C include: broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chili peppers, collards, mustard greens, potato with skin, spinach, bell peppers and tomatoes. Vitamin C helps form and repair red blood cells, bones and other tissue. It also helps keep our gums healthy and heal cuts and wounds.

 Most vegetables are high in fiber, or they are a good source of fiber. To increase health benefits, we need to consume 20 to 35 grams of fiber daily. Most people fall short of the recommended amount. Eating more vegetables is a wonderful way to increase fiber in your diet. When increasing fiber in the diet, do it slowly and drink plenty of water to help avoid digestion problems.

As mentioned, Fall is a great time to purchase fresh vegetables. Many are at their peak. Just look at the vegetable section of your favorite grocery store or farmers market to see all the colors available.

When you buy fresh vegetables, you will need to store them properly. Most can be stored for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Carrots, turnips and rutabagas will keep for up to a month in the refrigerator.

Some vegetables are better stored elsewhere. Potatoes, winter squash and onions are best stored in a cool, dry place and can be stored for 1 to 2 months. Do not store them in the refrigerator.

There are several ways to add more vegetables to your diet. They can be baked, grilled, steamed, sauteed and more. For flavor, texture and nutrients, blend in shredded zucchini, or carrots in baked goods. Go beyond the basic vegetables of lettuce, tomato and onion when making a sandwich. Try adding peppers, cucumbers and spinach. Not only do you add color and texture, but you are also adding essential nutrients your body needs.

Fresh vegetables make great snacks. Most are low in calories, fat and sodium. Stock your refrigerator with raw vegetables, which are cleaned and ready to eat. Keep them handy by putting them on the top shelf of the refrigerator so you will see them.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture has several fact sheets regarding vegetables and the importance of including them in your diet. Not only do they mention nutrition information, but they also include a few recipes. If you would like a copy of these fact sheets or more information on how to eat healthy, contact the Howard County Cooperative Extension Service located on the second floor of the courthouse. You can also call our office at 870-845-7517 or email me at Check out our website!

Recipe of the Week

Here is a great, tasty way to add more vegetables to your diet. Use the grill for a great addition to any meal.

Garden Bruschetta

  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into ¼- inch thick diagonal slices

  • 1 large shallot or small red onion, thinly sliced

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (preferable artisan bread)

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed

  • 2 small plum tomatoes, thinly sliced

  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, divided

  • ½ to 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh basil (optional)

  • 3 jumbo pimiento-stuffed olives, thinly sliced

  • 3 Tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

  1.   Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Place zucchini and shallot slices in grill basket or vegetable grate.
  3. Brush with oil and sprinkle with pepper.
  4. Grill 3 to 5 minutes per side or until tender and lightly browned.
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Rub bread slices with garlic, discard garlic.
  7. Grill bread 1 to 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Or toast bread slices under broiler 20 seconds or until browned.
  8. To assemble bruschetta, arrange one sliced tomato on each bread slice.
  9. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon oregano and basil, if desired, over each bread slice.
  10. Top with zucchini and shallot.
  11. Arrange sliced olives over vegetables.
  12. Sprinkle with cheese.
  13. Place bruschetta on grill rack or vegetable grate 2 minutes or until hot. Or place on baking sheet under broiler 20 seconds or until hot.                          Yield: 2 servings
  1. Nutrition information per serving: Calories 168, Total Fat 7g; Saturated Fat 2g, Cholesterol 7mg, Sodium 328mg, Carbohydrate 20g, Fiber 5g, Protein 9g



By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517

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