VITAL STATS Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and brussels sprouts have a surprising relative, bok choy, the Asian green. With more cancer-fighting antioxidants than many of its siblings (plus vitamin C, folate, beta-carotene, calcium and fiber), bok choy deserves to be more widely known. TIPS Unless you are steaming bok choy whole, it’s best to cook the crisp stems first and add the deep green leaves at the very end, since they cook much more quickly. Cook bok choy lightly to preserve nutrients.
VITAL STATS Turkey legs may not be as lean as those white-meat breasts, but they are much tastier—and a 3.5-ounce serving (without the skin) has a modest 3.5 grams of fat, making the legs an unexpectedly virtuous option. Plus they deliver protein, B vitamins, zinc and the antioxidant selenium. TIP When we think of cooking turkey, roasting is the method that first comes to mind. But the legs are better braised because they need long, moist cooking to turn the tough meat into something meltingly tender.
VITAL STATS Whether they’re turned into tofu or simply steamed in the pod, soybeans, a.k.a. edamame, are undeniably trendy. And for good reason: They are rich sources of isoflavones, compounds that may help reduce cholesterol, fight cancer and strengthen bones. They’re also a great source of protein, fiber and B vitamins. TIPS Look for plump, dark green pods about two inches long. To prepare for snacking, rub the pods with kosher salt to remove as much fuzz as possible, then boil or steam the beans until just tender.
VITAL STATS Quinoa, a grainlike vegetable similar to buckwheat and amaranth, is a vegetarian’s dream: Its protein contains healthy amounts of all the essential amino acids. And anyone with food allergies should know that it’s gluten-free. It’s also an excellent source of iron and magnesium and a good source of many of the B vitamins and calcium. Reason enough to brush up on your pronunciation (KEEN-wah). TIP Rinse quinoa before cooking it to remove the soapy, bitter coating.
VITAL STATS Like many tropical fruits, mangoes deliver major amounts of antioxidants, which protect against heart disease and cancer. Generous quantities of vitamin A and fiber and a small (but helpful) amount of vitamin E are more incentives to eat mangoes. TIPS For slicing or dicing, peel mangoes, then cut the fruit off the large, flat, fibrous pit. For eating out of hand, slice the fruit in half off either side of the pit. Score each half in a deep crosshatch pattern; fold the fruit out, making the mango cubes pop.
VITAL STATS Omega-3 fatty acids have a vaguely science-fiction-y name, but don’t let that put you off. These fats, found in large quantities in salmon as well as other fatty fish, protect the heart in several ways—by preventing blood clots and steadying heart rhythm, for instance. They may even (get this) alleviate depression. TIP When cooking salmon fillets or steaks in a pan or on the grill, wait until they’re well browned to turn, so they’ll release easily, without flaking, when you flip them with a spatula.