Recently the media has reported on the best diets for 2018. The United States Department of Agriculture DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) ranked at the top of list. It is not a new diet; in fact, for the last seven years, it has topped the list.
One of the key parts to DASH is the vegetable group, along with fruits and whole grains. For a 2000-calorie diet, it recommends 4 to 5 servings a day.
Why so much? Vegetables are rich sources of potassium, magnesium and fiber. All help to reduce blood pressure along with physical activity and consuming calories in balance with activity.
A serving size of vegetables are 1-cup raw leafy, ½-cup cut-raw or cooked vegetable or ½ cup vegetable juice.
Spinach is one of those dark green leafy vegetables that is lower in calories yet fill you up. Eat it raw in a salad or a cooked green. It is an excellent source of fiber, high in vitamins A and C, high in iron, folate and a good source of magnesium. All for 10 calories a cup raw or 50 calories a cup cooked.
If spinach is not your favorite, try it a different way. Add spinach leaves to a wrap or in a stir-fry. Add it to omelets or make this easy Green Surprise Dip. Put it on top of whole grain crackers, tortilla or sliced cucumbers.
Green Surprise Dip
1 cup frozen spinach, drained
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 cup garbanzo beans (canned, rinsed, drained)
¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ medium onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon lemon juice or to taste
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
Optional: pinches of cumin, garlic powder, sugar, and/or dark mustard added to taste
First, mash beans with potato masher or pastry blender. Add all other ingredients, blend. Or, puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor. For best flavor, refrigerate overnight. Serve on sliced cucumber, whole grain tortilla or on top of baked potato. Enjoy!
Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.