This is a guest post by Andy Bellatti
Vegetables Make for Wonderful Vessels
1) The Right Stuff: Whether you’re talking bell peppers, tomatoes, or eggplant, vegetables can be edible baskets for other healthful ingredients. Try quinoa and raisins inside a roasted bell pepper, barley and feta cheese stuffed into a large tomato, or wild rice, tamari, and chopped cashews inside eggplant. Nutrition bonus: eggplant skins offer a wide array of heart-healthy antioxidants and phytonutrients!
2) Think Green (Or Purple!): When it comes to creating a quick lunch on a sweltering summer day, most people think of cool fillings (hummus, cucumbers, salsa, sliced avocado, canned tuna, etc) that typically go in between slices of sandwich bread or inside a tortilla wrap. Well, think outside the bun, bread slice, and wrap — and let a vegetable hold everything together. Sturdy Thai lettuce leaves make for great wraps, as does purple cabbage. Alternatively, you can also use these “wrappers” as cups (as seen in accompanying photograph). Since these vegetables offer dark-colored pigments, they also offer a plethora of healthful compounds to further give your meal a healthy boost.
3) Salad of the Sea: Salads are a summertime lunch staple. For example, I love the combination of peppery arugula, sliced mango, diced avocado, grape tomatoes, and toasted pumpkin seeds with a tahini-garlic dressing. To prevent falling into a salad rut, I’ll sometimes call for some help from a dear deep-sea friend: seaweed. Wrap your salad inside two or three nori sheets and your meal is taken to a whole new level flavor, texture, and nutrition-wise. Sea vegetables are high in vitamins A, C, and K, very rich in minerals, and a wonderful source of DHA and EPA, the two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish!
Andy Bellatti, MS, is a Seattle-based nutritionist, writer, and speaker, and is the creator of the Small Bites blog (http://smallbites.andybellatti.com). He also provides customized nutrition-based services (www.andybellatti.com/services.html). He expects to take his Registered Dietitian exam next Summer. His work has been featured in Oxygen, Today’s Dietitian, AOL Health, and MSNBC.com. You can follow him on Twitter @andybellatti.