Like This, Try That: Try Something Different On The Produce Aisle

With the variety of fruits and vegetables available at most supermarkets, a trip down the produce aisle could be a culinary adventure. (Rutabagas! Star fruit! Bok choy!) Most of us, though, tend to stick to a tried-and-true itinerary, from broccoli and potatoes to apples and oranges. It could be that we don’t know what to do with a parsnip. Or we may have developed a distaste for brussels sprouts in childhood, then never tried them again as adults. 

But the routine of the same fruits and vegetables leads to boredom, which in turn puts us at risk for not consuming the recommended 4.5 to 6 cups of fruits and vegetables daily. "Each time you go to the grocery store, pick up one new fruit or vegetable to try,” says nutrition consultant Keri Gans, R.D., a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and author of The Small Change Diet. “You’re bound to find something you like.” Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

You Like: Apple, Try: Pears

WHY: Pears have a similar “crunch factor” as apples and come in about as many varieties, usually with more fiber. Plus, they’re a great source of vitamins C and K, which play a role in blood clotting and may boost bone strength.

SUGGESTED SERVINGS: “Anything you can do with an apple, you can do with a pear,” says Gans, who suggests adding thinly sliced wedges to a salad. For a summer dessert, brush pear halves with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then place face-down on the grill and broil until tender and caramelized. Top with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.

You Like: Kidney Beans; Try: Garbanzo Beans
WHY: Their versatility has made garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, the world’s most widely consumed legume. They’re high in folate, iron and protein, making them a wise choice for a vegetarian entrée, and their high fiber content promotes bowel regularity. To save on prep time, Gans suggests buying low-salt canned beans, then doublerinsing  (to remove any sodium added as a preservative or extra flavoring).

SUGGESTED SERVINGS: Grind into hummus with garlic, olive oil and lemon juice, then use as a dip for crudités or substitute for mayonnaise when making egg or tuna salad. Or add the whole beans to pasta with lemon juice, prosciutto, roasted asparagus, chopped parsley and Parmesan cheese.

You Like: Oranges; Try: Clementines
WHY: “Oranges can sometimes be hard to peel and the juice may run on your hands and get messy,” says Gans, who reaches instead for a clementine when she’s ready for a citrus fix on the run. The smaller-sized fruit is easier to peel but retains the orange’s high levels of vitamin C, potassium, folate and fiber.

SUGGESTED SERVINGS: The fruit is delicious eaten out of hand but also could be sectioned and added to a baby spinach salad topped with cranberries, feta cheese and walnuts.

You Like: Carrots; Try: Beets

WHY: Golden and red beets are low in calories but high in fiber, manganese and folate, and their amino acid profile may help the body extract a more complete protein from the meats and fish you’re already serving.

Think beyond boiling: Gans’ preferred method of preparation is oven roasting, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with fresh herbs. (Try this also with asparagus, carrots, or even caulifl ower and broccoli.) “It adds a sweet, intense flavor without leaching the vitamins and minerals,” she says.

Open Mouths, Open Minds
There’s no guarantee that every new food you try will please your palate, but that shouldn’t be an excuse to stop sampling, says Cris Hartley, R.D., L.D., CDE , manager of Gwinnett Medical Center’s Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center. 

“When my clients say, ‘I don’t like broccoli,’ I ask them, ‘Well, when’s the last time you tried it?’ ” Hartley says. “Tastes change as we grow older, and to enjoy a new food it’s often just a matter of finding the right way to prepare it.” A good way to acclimate to a new fruit or vegetable, or even whole grains, is to include it in a salad or soup, where the flavor mixes with others. “In addition to expanding your menu options, adding more vegetables can help your overall health,” Hartley adds. “People with conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome and diabetes can be helped by the right diet.”

Nutrition Help Is Just a Call Away
GMC’s Diabetes & Nutrition Education Center can tailor a nutrition plan to your needs. For more information, call 678-312-6040 or e-mail


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