What’s the best way to eat veggies? Mary Snell, director of nutrition and wellness at Marsh Supermarkets, talks about vegetables and gives expert advice on how to work them into lunch boxes and other meals.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Mary Snell liked veggies as a kid.
Fresh vegetables were a bit of generational bond growing up, she said. “My grandmother had a large garden so we always had fresh produce on hand.”
Those healthy moments paid off. Today, Snell is the director of nutrition and wellness at Indianapolis-based Marsh Supermarkets, a chain of more than 70 locations. That means lots of fun time cooking and sharing recipes. It also means helping parents prepare nourishing meals for their families – just as her family did for her. Snell will even take your nutrition questions.
Veggies continue to be a family affair. Snell shared with us the recipe for her favorite vegetable salad, which her mom makes. It’s an extra-nutritious, European take on the potato salad, with one of our favorite veggies!
That recipe follows, along with Snell’s advice on getting kids into the kitchen, packing healthy lunch boxes and the best way to eat veggies.
Vegy Vida: How many vegetables should a child eat each day?
Mary Snell: The number of daily vegetables a child should have depends on their age. Children aged 2-6 years need three servings per day while older kids need four to five servings per day.
VV: How do vegetables benefit growing bodies?
MS: Vegetables provide important vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals (healthy plant compounds) needed for growing bodies.
VV: Are some vegetables better for kids than others?
MS: A variety of vegetables incorporating all the colors – reds, yellow/orange, green, blue/purple and white/tan/black – is key to a healthy balanced diet.
VV: What is the healthiest way to eat vegetables? For example, are they always healthier when eaten raw?
MS: All forms count – fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juices. Certain vegetables, such as canned tomatoes, contain more of the phytochemical lycopene than fresh tomatoes (lycopene is a powerful antioxidant good for hearts, skin and eyes and has been shown to help prevent diabetes). Having frozen vegetables on hand makes it convenient to add a package to a casserole or soup to boost the nutrient content.
VV: What tips would you suggest to parents whose kids resist veggies?
MS: Allow your kids to help you in the kitchen as you prepare meals. Depending on their age, they can help peel, chop or put together a simple recipe. There are many fun and safe kitchen tools on the market to make prepping vegetables a fun activity. Kids take a lot of pride in something they’ve helped make.
VV: How can parents include veggies in back-to-school lunch boxes?
MS: Smoothies provide a great way to sneak in some vegetables. Make a double batch the next time you make smoothies and freeze the extras. Place a frozen smoothie in their lunch box in the morning and by lunchtime it will be adequately thawed. Plus, it will help keep the other items in their lunch box nice and cool.
VV: What is your favorite vegetable recipe?
MS: Ukrainian Vinaigrette Salad. It’s a potato beet salad. Whenever I visit my mother, she always has this salad waiting for me!
Thanks a bunch, Mary. We can’t wait to try it!
Ukrainian Vinaigrette Salad
This mild beet salad can be served as a main entrée or used as a side with meat and poultry dishes. To save time, canned beets can be used instead of fresh.
3 medium beets (or 2 cans of sliced beets, drained)
4 medium potatoes
3 medium carrots
3 medium dill pickles, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 can navy beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
Scrub beets, potatoes and carrots and boil together. Check after 15 minutes and remove potatoes and carrots when done, letting beets continue cooking until done. Let vegetables cool; then peel.
Cut beets, carrots and potatoes into bite-size serving pieces and combine in a large mixing bowl. Add diced pickles and onion, beans, oil, salt and pepper. Stir together; everything will turn various tones of magenta. Chill at least 2 hours before serving. If desired, add more pickles to taste.
Yield: 16 servings
Nutrition information: 83 calories, 2 g fat, 14 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 3 g fiber, 310 mg sodium