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Monday, December 22, 2014         

Eat Your Veggies Premium

Hearty cooking greens is how I classify kale, chard and collards, each one distinctive in its earthy, rustic and slightly bitter flavor and each one a nutritional powerhouse.

The choys are a closely linked group of cabbages that figure prominently in Chinese cuisine. Sometimes we get them confused — white-stemmed, green-stemmed, big and small — which one to buy?

You either love it or hate it -- cilantro is not everyone's cup of tea. The flavor of the lacy-leafed green is sometimes described as soapy; others might just call it distinctively pungent.

The crisp spiciness of watercress just can't be found in any other leafy green, an attribute that endears this vegetable to many of us in Hawaii. Dishes such as pork tofu with watercress, chicken hekka, watercress soup and tofu salad are classic in the repertoire of local dishes made with this pungent green.

One of the best greens to buy at a farmers market is spinach because fresh spinach is best eaten within a few days of harvest for optimal nutritional benefit.

You say tuh-MAY-toh, others say tuh-MAH-toh. Italians say pomi d'oro, or golden apples; the French say pommes d'amour, or love apple. However you say it, the tomato is one of summer's best vegetables — even though it's really a fruit.

Parsley is an herb used for its distinctive flavor and bright green color that adds sparkle to a dish. But what if you think of parsley as a vegetable? Of course, you first must like the flavor of parsley, pungent and slightly bitter, which is why most people don't eat the parsley decorating their plate.

Cauliflower has been something I've eaten occasionally from a crudite tray, crunchy, mildly flavored and good with a dip.

Though young children often think of broccoli as miniature trees, the popular vegetable comprises the unopened budding sprouts of the plant. Broccoli is of the species Brassica oleracea, which includes cauliflower, kohlrabi, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens and all the cabbages.

The eggplant is quite an interesting and diverse vegetable. A relative of chili, bell peppers, tomatoes and potatoes, it's a vegetable that comes in a wide range of hues: white, green, red, orange, black and innumerable shades of purple.

Cabbage has stood the test of time as an important part of Northern European and Asian diets. Pickled, fermented, braised, stewed, stir-fried and raw, cabbage is not one of the most glamorous of vegetables, but it has been a delicious mainstay of countless cultures for millenniums.


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