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10 Fruits and Veggies to Enhance Your Meals

Add flavor to your dinner table with fruit and veggie ideas that are easy to prepare and healthy.

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1. Fennel
Also known as sweet anise, fennel has a sweet, mild licorice flavor. The feathery fronds can be used as an herb, like dill weed,to flavor soups and stews. The broad, bulbous base is treated like a vegetable and can be eaten raw or sliced and diced for stews, soups, and stuffing. Try it roasted for a sweet treat.

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2. Bok Choy
An Oriental cabbage, bok choy is like the Chinese version of spinach, only better. It doesn’t get mushy, it retains its crunch,and it is the perfect vehicle for soy sauce. Serve it chopped and stir-fried in a bit of peanut oil and soy sauce. Or toss a chopped bunch into a hearty vegetable soup just before serving.

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3. Jicama
Known as the Mexican potato,jicama (pronounced HE-kuhmuh)is a root tuber (like potatoes). Buy it smooth and firm with unblemished roots.Serve it cold and raw, or in soups, stews, or salads. Great as a substitute for water chestnuts.

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4. Chayote Squash

A summer squash native to Latin America, chayote (pronounced chy-O-tay) squash is also known as the vegetable pear because of its shape and color. It has a mild taste, like zucchini, with a slightly citrus tang. You don’t have to peel it,and the seeds inside are edible.Just cut into cubes, add 1/4 cup water, cover, and microwave for about 8 minutes.

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5. Kohlrabi
A member of the turnip family, itis often called a cabbage turnip,but it’s sweeter, juicier, crisper,and more delicate in flavor than a turnip. The cooked leaves have a kale or collard flavor. Trim and pare the bulb to remove all traces of the fibrous layer just beneath the skin, then eat it raw, boil it, steam it, microwave or sauté it, or add it to potato casseroles.

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6. Belgian Endive
This type of lettuce has a mild,slightly bitter flavor and is packed with fiber, iron, and potassium. Use it in salads and instead of crackers with vegetable dips.
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7. Guava
Yes, we never thought of actually buying it either, let alone eating it. But this fruit is awesome-and not just plain. Add the flesh to smoothies, dice it into fruit salads and salsas, and puree it for a fabulous sauce for fish or chicken. An added benefit? Researchers had 50 people with high blood pressure and high cholesterol eat four to seven guavas a day for 12 weeks. They found that the guava eaters had much lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff), and they had higher HDL cholesterol (the good kind) than 50 people who didn’t add the fruit to their diets.

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8. Prunes
These days the politically correct term is “dried plums,” but we’ll never stop thinking of them as prunes. Blend prunes with water into a puree and use this to replace oils and fats in baking, add prunes to stews for a delicious sweetness, or chop them and sprinkle over salads, yogurt, cottage cheese, or cereal. Prunes have a special kind of soluble fiber called pectin, which forms a gel in your intestines that absorbs excess cholesterol, sweeping it from your body. When 41 men with mildly high cholesterol levels added 12 prunes a day to their diets for four weeks, their LDL levels dropped more than when they drank grape juice for four weeks.

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9. Garlic
We don’t recommend doing this alone. Find someone you love,and share. Remove the loose paper covering from a head of garlic, cut off the tops, drizzle olive oil over it, wrap in foil, and bake in a 350°F (175°C) oven until soft, about an hour. Then squeeze the soft heads of garlic onto toasted bread and spread. You’ll be getting fabulous amounts of plant nutrients called thioallyls that dramatically lower blood cholesterol levels,as well as prevent blood from becoming sticky and clumping into heart-damaging clots. Scientists believe you can lower your total cholesterol about 9 percent with just 1.5 to 3 cloves of fresh garlic daily for 2 to 6 months.

Plus: Surprising Garlic Benefits That Will Improve Your Life

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10. Avocados
Yeah, yeah, yeah, they’re high in fat. But it’s “good” fat-the monounsaturated kind that helps lower cholesterol. Try mashing a ripe avocado with a bit of lemon juice, onion, and chopped tomato as a topping for baked potatoes.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest