Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Eat More Vegetables – Not Again?

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are pleading with us to eat more vegetables. We Americans are a stubborn bunch. We have done a great job of avoiding vegetables. That is, unless you count potatoes. We are advised to eat 2½ cups of vegetables per day. On average we eat about 1½ cups per day and that includes potatoes.

I am not sure why we don’t consume much in the way of vegetables. Maybe we are in a hurry, we don’t like them, they take too long to prepare. Maybe we have become a little tired of broccoli. If so, it could be time to try a new vegetable. Often times, we get in a rut and just stay there. There are tons and tons of vegetables. They come in a rainbow of colors, a variety of shapes and flavors. Also try cooking an old favorite a new way.

The produce isle is loaded with lots of fun, new vegetables. Approach vegetable cooking as an adventure. Look for a vegetable that you have never tried. Farmers markets often have unusual vegetables. Ethnic markets are one of my favorite places to find new vegetables. Sometimes if you ask the vendor, they will tell you how to prepare it. After all, they want to sell products. When you are at the grocery store, check the displays. They will often times contain recipes and helpful hints for preparing produce.

To get you on the road to vegetable consumption, let’s start with bok choy, an Asian vegetable. Bok choy (brassica chinensis) is a type of cabbage but bears little resemblance to those found in American supermarkets. Whereas, brassica vegetables tend to have strong flavors, bok choy is quite mild. Bok choy has a white stem surrounded by green leaves. While most American supermarkets contain larger types of bok choy, Asian markets generally sell smaller varieties. Asians value smaller varieties for their tenderness. Smaller varieties generally cook in less time than larger ones sold in American supermarkets.

Bok Choy

Serves 4 to 6.


1½ pounds bok choy or baby bok choy
1½ Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons grated ginger
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil


1. Start by trimming the stem off, about ½ to ¾ -inch. Cutting the thick stem off will ensure that the bok choy cooks evenly. Separate out the leaves, keep the tender center intact. Clean under running water. Drain.

2. Combine garlic and ginger. Set aside.

3. Preheat a wok or skillet. Add vegetable oil and heat. Add garlic and ginger. Cook until you begin to smell the garlic and ginger; they become a light golden brown. Add bok choy. Toss to coat the leaves with the garlic and ginger oil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drizzle with sesame oil and soy sauce.  Serve.

More Resources for Preparing Vegetables

Better Homes and Gardens - -
Everyday Foods -
UNL-Extension -
Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market -


  1. I grow up in an Asian country where many people still go grocery shopping every other day if not daily to get fresh vegetables and their vegetable consumption is higher than American’s. It is critical to eat fresh vegetable to enjoy its taste. It could be challenging for Americans who tend to go grocery shopping less frequently, because vegetables won’t stay fresh too long.

  2. Tae;
    Thanks for your comment. Yes, we Americans do like to "stock up". I feel so embarrassed going to the grocery store everyday.