It's the end of the summer and you have more tomatoes and green beans than you know what to do with. One solution is to put them together in a colorful, nutritious vegetable dish.

According to the AICR, five daily servings of fruits and vegetables can help ensure short-term nutritional needs but may not be enough to guard against health problems that develop over time. Because these foods are rich in the substances that help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases like diabetes, AICR recommends more than five a day -- ideally, nine a day.

An added benefit is that vegetables and fruits are nutrient-dense, meaning they have a high concentration of health benefits compared to a low calorie content. They also have the fiber that creates a "full" feeling with a minimum of calories, often far more effectively than starchy, higher calorie foods like potatoes and pasta.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans eat a limited amount and a small variety of vegetables. The potato, which is more of a starchy staple, is America's number one vegetable choice, particularly fried. Next is iceberg lettuce, which is low in nutrients, then tomatoes, carrots and onions. At the low end of the scale, two major categories the deeply colored green and yellow vegetables rich in substances believed to combat many diseases represent only 0.4 of Americans' daily servings. Health experts say eating more vegetables is second only to quitting smoking as a protective measure against cancer.

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It's easy to boost vegetable consumption. Slightly increase the amount of cooked vegetables at lunch and dinner, from one-half cup to three-quarter cup portions, and you'll have the equivalent of three servings. One cup of salad greens at either meal raises the total to four servings. Eating vegetables instead of high-calorie or processed snacks means more nutrition and fewer calories.

This is easy to do in summer when fresh vegetables and fruits are abundant. Instead of despairing about the overabundance, combine some ripe tomatoes, sauted garlic, fresh green beans and basil for a colorful vegetable dish. A little crumbled feta cheese adds rich flavor, and is a nice complement to the beans and tomatoes.

Green Beans with Tomatoes

Yield: Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients

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  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and cut into small dice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, minced
  • 2-4 oz. reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled

Directions

  1. In large saute pan with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and saute until golden. Add green beans, reduce heat to medium, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and cover with lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, until green beans are almost tender but firm. Remove lid, add tomatoes and basil, turn up heat and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Transfer bean mixture to a serving bowl. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
89 calories,
6 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat),
8 g. carbohydrate,
4 g. protein,
1 g. dietary fiber,
130 mg. sodium


AICR