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RISMEDIA, March 10, 2011—(MCT)—Vegetables are important for a good diet—they can reduce risk of stroke, heart disease and some cancers and can contribute to healthy weight. The people at TOPS (Take Pounds Off Sensibly), a nonprofit weight-loss support group, came up with a top 10 list of ways to get more veggies in your diet. Some you may already do and some may be new ideas:

1. Make a “pasta” dish with spaghetti squash instead of noodles.

2. Puree cooked vegetables and add them to stews, gravies and soups.

3. Add raw spinach leaves and an extra-ripe banana to a fruit smoothie. It may sound strange, but the sweetness of the banana masks the taste of the spinach.

4. Baking? Add shredded carrots to muffins or bread.

5. Instead of cheese and meat, pile your morning omelet with onions, mushrooms and red and green peppers. Chop vegetables the night before to save time in the morning.

6. Add chopped spinach to meat when preparing meatballs or hamburgers.

7. Try mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. Experiment with different flavorings such as garlic, a dab of butter and Parmesan cheese.

8. Add salsa to a breakfast burrito, pile it on a veggie burger, or use it in place of high-fat, creamy vegetable dips.

9. Puree pasta sauce with vegetables such as winter squash or chopped broccoli.

10. Add chopped carrots to casseroles or meatloaf.

(c) 2011, The Baltimore Sun.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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