Eating fresh vegetables is one of the best things about a garden, summer is not the only time you can enjoy them. When you pick vegetables at their prime, with careful handling you can prepare and store them so they hold their fresh qualities all year long. You can also maintain the flavor, texture and nutritional values.

Here are some tips on how you can enjoy fresh vegetables from the garden or farmer’s market throughout the year.

Prepare vegetables

Begin by washing the vegetables thoroughly. Lift the vegetable up and down under running water using your hand or a vegetable brush to clear the dirt from the skin. As you are washing, look for inferior vegetables or overly mature ones and lay them aside to consume with your next meal or the next day. Blanch the vegetables in hot water to stop the natural enzymes from destroying the fresh flavor and remove any bacteria from the surface. Cool the vegetables quickly by submerging the vegetables into cold water. Blanching and cooling should take about the same amount of time, it’s a very quick process.

Pack vegetables

Choose a food grade freezer container to pack the vegetables into meal-size portions proportionate to the size of your family. Pace the vegetables firmly to avoid air space, which can lead to freezer burn. When packing butterbeans, peas or snap beans, you should cover the vegetables with water. Leave about three-quarters of an inch to 1 inch space at the top of the container to allow for expansion while freezing. Immediately place the vegetables in the coldest part of your freezer and store at zero degrees or below.

Now you have it—fresh tasting vegetables that can be enjoyed throughout the year, even in the cold of winter.

Some other benefits of fruits and vegetables, in a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition had participants who were mostly overweight or obese take part in three classes and 11 interactive phone calls designed to teach them only how to cut down on sugary beverages. After six months, they not only reduced their intake of sugary beverages by a third, but they also cut their intake of total added sugars by a third and daily calories by 285. Plus, they improved their overall diet quality.

For example, maybe they started eating slightly more fruits or vegetables or whole grains. The researchers suggested that this is an example of how healthy changes in behavior may “cluster” and how one dietary improvement can lead to others. So, consider making just one healthy change to your diet. You may be surprised to find that it will help lead to other healthy changes.

Smokers who are trying to quit can eat more fruits and vegetables to help kick the habit. Researchers also state that the healthy foods can help smokers stay tobacco-free longer.

The study surveyed 1,000 smokers aged 25 and older across the country. Those who ate more fruits and vegetables were three times likely to stay tobacco-free at least 30 days. They also waited longer to have a cigarette.

Why? Fruits and vegetables increase satiety. Higher fiber intake also increases fullness. And, fruits and vegetables make the taste of tobacco worse.

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