Some things to consider when buying fresh veggies:

n When buying spinach, look for deep green, fresh leaves that are not torn or soggy. Broccoli and asparagus should be bright green and firm to the touch. Green beans also should be slender and firm, with a rich green color.

n To season vegetables in healthier ways, steam in chicken broth instead of adding salt. Use herbs for seasoning. Or blanch and chill to serve as snacks.

n The new federal dietary guidelines recommend at least five servings of veggies a day. The guidelines encourage increasing the number of dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach.

n Besides blanching and steaming, roasting is a delicious way to enhance the flavor of a vegetable.

n To store fresh asparagus, trim ends and place upright in a container in water in the refrigerator until ready to prepare.

n New potatoes should be stored in a cool, dark area of the kitchen.

n Green beans, broccoli and spinach should be kept in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

n Introduce a baby or toddler to vegetables one at a time, checking for the child’s preference and to ensure the child is not allergic. For babies 4 to 6 months old, puree vegetables; for those 7 to 9 months old, serve mashed vegetables such as potatoes, squash and peas.

For children 10 to 12 months old, begin to introduce raw vegetables such as peeled tomatoes and cucumbers, which are soft and easy to chew.

Sources: “Nutrition for Life” (DK Publishers, 2005); “Healthy Heart & Soul” (South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control); and “The New Food Lover’s Companion” (Barron’s, 2001)

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