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Well and Good: Eat Your Vegetables!

FRESH VegetablesAdding vegetables to your diet can seem like a daunting task…especially if you don’t have fond memories of them from childhood! Vegetables have more health benefits than you may know. Still not convinced? Here are three benefits of eating more vegetables, along with an easy (and delicious) recipe:

You’ll feel full faster and stay full longer. Vegetables contain fiber, which helps bulk up the digestive tract. Because fiber swells when in water, your body will send the “I’m full!” message much sooner. Even adding one serving of broccoli or carrots each day can make a big difference. Full sooner = you eat less. You eat less = less calories. Less calories means weight lost! See? Vegetables ARE good!

Your heart will thank you. Eating a diet rich in potassium can help lower blood pressure. Lower blood pressure means a lower chance of heart attack and stroke! How do I get more potassium, you ask? Try orange vegetables like sweet potatoes and orange peppers and you’ll be well on your way.

Your eyes will see the light. Brightly colored vegetables contain compounds called lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect your eyes from free radicals formed from toxins in our bodies. These compounds in particular seem to have a protective effect against cataract and macular degeneration. The sooner you can get these compounds, the better…so what are you waiting for? Kale is calling!

Chilaquiles Casserole

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium zucchini, grated
1 (19 oz) can black beans, rinsed
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups corn, frozen (thawed) or fresh
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
12 corn tortillas, quartered
1 (19 oz) can mild red or green enchilada sauce
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese

1.Preheat oven to 400° F. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.

2.Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini, beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are heated through, about 3 minutes.

3.Scatter half the tortilla pieces in the 9 x 13 pan. Top with half the vegetable mixture, half the enchilada sauce and half the cheese. Repeat with one more layer of tortillas, vegetables, sauce and cheese. Cover with foil.

4.Bake the casserole for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the casserole is bubbling around the edges and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes more.

Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3 and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Calories Per Serving: 243, Fat: 10 g (Saturated Fat: 5 g, Monosaturated Fat: 4 g), Cholesterol: 23 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Protein: 9 g, Fiber: 5 g Sodium: 338 mg, Potassium: 267 mg

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (23% daily value), Fiber (22% daily value)

Carbohydrate Servings: 1 1/2

Exchanges: 2 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat, 1 fat

Recipe from EatingWell.