Why Eating Vegetables is So Important

Jun 6, 2022 | College Health, Eating Well

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Vegetables are an incredibly diverse food group, and summertime is the perfect time to start experimenting with vegetable-based recipes. Eating vegetables provides many health benefits. 

People who eat more vegetables as part of a healthy diet can reduce their risk of developing chronic diseases, and they also receive more vital nutrients that are essential for promoting overall bodily health and maintenance. Best of all, most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories, making vegetable-based meals ideal for anyone, including people who want to lose weight. 

Choose In-Season Vegetables for Your Summer Meals

You have many options for creating delicious vegetable-based meals during the summer, as plenty of vegetables are at their peak during this time of year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a full list of in-season vegetables throughout the year, including summer favorites such as:

  • Beets
  • Bell peppers
  • Corn
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Summer squash
  • Zucchini

Enjoy These Summer Vegetable Meals and Vegetarian Recipes

Vegetarian Taco Bowls

Serves 4

1 14-ounce block firm or extra-firm tofu

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

2 garlic cloves, smashed

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ancho powder or sweet smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground fennel

1 tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste

2 teaspoons hot sauce

Cooked white rice, shredded red cabbage, sliced avocado, crumbled queso fresco (optional), cilantro and lime wedges (for serving) 

  1. Firmly squeeze tofu dry as much as possible. Tear or cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces.

  2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add tofu, season with salt and cook, tossing occasionally until edges are golden brown and crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Break up tofu into smaller pieces. Add garlic and cook, tossing occasionally, until tofu pieces are crisp all over, about 3 minutes.

  3. Reduce heat to medium. Add spices and cook, stirring until spices deepen in color, about 20 seconds. Add tomato paste and cook until paste slightly darkens in color, about 1 minute. Add hot sauce and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered.

  4. Assemble taco bowls: divide rice among bowls. Top with tofu mixture, cabbage, avocado, queso fresco and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Grilled Summer Squash and Red Onion with Feta

Serves 4

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for grill

1 garlic clove, finely grated

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

4 medium summer squash and/or zucchini, cut lengthwise 1/4″ thick

1 medium red onion, cut through root end into 8 wedges

2 bay leaves

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

8 ounces feta, crumbled into large pieces

4 banana peppers from a jar, thinly sliced crosswise

Generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

  1. Heat grills to medium high and lightly oil grate. Whisk garlic, vinegar and 1/2 cup oil in a small bowl, set aside.

  2. Toss squash, onion and bay leaves on rimmed baking sheet with remaining 3 tablespons of oil. Season with salt and pepper.

  3. Arrange squash and onion on grate. Grill squash undistribed until grill marks appear, about 3 minutes. Turn over and grill until tender and starting to release liquid, about 2 minutes. Transfer squash to baking sheet. Grill onion, turning occasionally, until tender and charred around edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer onion to baking sheet.

  4. Arrange squash, onion, bay leaves and feta on rimmed platter and pour reserved marinade over. Scatter banana peppers on top and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Let sit at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before serving.

Tofu and Summer Vegetable Curry

4 whole grain pita pockets

½ block of extra firm or firm tofu, chopped into cubes

1 cup zucchini, sliced

1 cup yellow squash, sliced

1 cup eggplant, chopped

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced

1 can of coconut milk

2 tablespoons curry paste

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4 cup of basil, chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced onion and sauté until translucent, a few minutes. Add 1 tablespoon minced garlic, chopped eggplant, sliced zucchini, sliced yellow squash and 1 tablespoon minced jalepeno. Cook for 5 more minutes.

  2. Once veggies are softened, add curry paste and mix. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding the coconut milk and tofu.

  3. Bring mixture to a simer and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in fresh chopped basil.

  4. Preheat oven to 350. Mix 1 teaspoon of minced garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each sea salt and pepper. Brush each pita pocket with the mixture.

  5. Bake pita for 5 minutes until nice and crispy.

  6. Slice into fourths and serve with tofu veggie curry.

Eating a healthy and vegetable-filled diet is a great way to lose weight, reduce inflammation, and ensure your body is getting all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs. But a healthy diet isn’t always enough to feel your best.

Our providers can help you stay in tip-top shape all year long. Connect with one today.

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