Learn to Love Vegetables

The USDA recommends five to nine servings per day of vegetables and fruits, and that doesn't include French fries. Many people don't grow out of their childhood habit of hating vegetables, but summer is a perfect time to try and make those valuable veggies taste great. Farmers' markets are in full swing and carry the tastiest varieties of produce, so pick some up and start experimenting. Many people don't like vegetables because they buy them at the grocery store, where the long process of harvesting, shipping and then sitting at the store has leached flavor out of them. Try eating the babies - baby carrots (the ones with the greens still attached, not the small version of larger carrots bagged up in the store), artichokes, squashes and turnips are more tender and flavorful than their grown-up counterparts. Fat is fabulous for livening up veggies' flavor -- try a sprinkle of an infused oil, butter or cheese.

And dipping veggies keeps the fat count lower than pouring it on. If you want to include cruciferous veggies - - and all their fabulous health benefits - try blanching. Steam them for 60 seconds, then plunge into a cold-water bath to stop the cooking and prevent bitter flavors they tend to develop. If you tend to eat a lot of sweets, then include sweet vegetables, like sweet potatoes, squash and peas, to indulge your sweet tooth. And if all else fails, fry thin slices of hardy veggies like carrots, zucchini and squash. Even parsnips can be delicious when fried. Shave them thin with a knife or mandolin, dunk them in hot vegetable oil quickly, drain and sprinkle with kosher salt. Find a way to enjoy veggies and reap their health benefits.