Anybody catch this story in the New York Times?
This is a serious health problem in our country right now, and I'm sure everyone is aware of it. I was talking to my dad on the phone yesterday and he said his only vegetable intake is V8 and cole slaw. As horrifying as this was to hear, what's worse is that so many Americans get even fewer vitamins and nutrients because of intentionally poor eating choices. And then they wonder why they fall ill or have chronic health problems. The body needs whole foods to maintain and heal itself. Our reliance on western medicine instead of real medicine is making us unhealthy (not to mention broke).
Case in point, maybe you saw this in Sunday's Star Tribune:
'Little Purple Pill' is Under Microscope
The article is about the over-prescription of heartburn drugs. Doctors hand it out like candy, for just about anything these days. I've experienced this; I had seasonal allergy-related asthma 2 springs ago to the point where I thought I needed an inhaler. Instead, the doctor gave me a pack of Prilosec. I thought he was crazy, but it turns out this is pretty common. Prilosec in particular made $13.6 billion for its manufacturer last year. But one study in 2005 and another this year concluded that the drug is prescribed 53 to 69 percent of the time "for inappropriate indications."
But back to the topic of vegetables. What do you do if you hate vegetables? Well, first of all, nobody hates vegetables, that's ridiculous. Sure, almost all of us have at least one vegetable aversion, but to swear off everything that grows under the sun is just silly. I find fussy eating in adults to be a particular turn-off-- after the age of 9, shouldn't you stop rejecting half of what's put in front of you? Even I'm guilty of discriminating against several members of the root vegetable group, but I can choke down a carrot if it's done right and I always give new preparations a try.
Sometimes our eating habits slip ouf of whack and we end up eating PB&J for breakfast and pizza for dinner, for days on end. Whenever this happens to me and I can't seem to get myself to crave veggies, I remember my friend Christian's advice that he gave me a long time ago: Aggressively start eating vegetables, as much as you can in each sitting, and after only a couple of days, your body will be craving them at every meal. It totally works every time. So what are some ways to make sure each and every meal, and even snacks in between, are full of vegetables? Also, let's not forget fruits. While you should eat more vegetables than fruits, it's still a good idea to include both.
- Buy a juicer. I know they're not cheap, but guess what? It's cheaper than the cost of all that produce that rots in your crisper drawer over the course of a year. If I know Macy's, they'll have juicers on sale starting next month through Christmas. You can get a really good one for around $100. Juicer recipes for vegetable and fruit blends are everywhere online, and every juicer I've seen comes with a recipe booklet.
- Use the pulp from juicing vegetables as filler for richer dishes. The Sneaky Chef has brilliant recipes for various colors of vegetable puree and recipes showing how to incorporate them into things like macaroni and cheese, chili and lasagna. Though she cooks the vegetables first then purees them, you can just as easily cook raw vegetable pulp and puree that.
- Order salad ahead of your meal. Give up on buying salad fixings at the grocery store if you never get to it before it goes bad. You’re only wasting money. But if you order salad or vegetable soup before your entrée at a restaurant, you’ll eat it all. Why? Because you’re hungry! If you prefer soup, stick to the vegetable ones with no meat or stock (minestrone, tomato basil, etc.)-- many restaurants will have that option. (I had an amazing brothy, tomato, greens and black-eyed pea soup at Gardens of Salonica yesterday ahead of my eggplant moussaka.)
- Go ethnic. With the exception of perhaps South America, cusines in other parts of the world are mostly vegetables and grains, with meat occasionally thrown in, if at all. Curries, stir frys, fried rice, and other one-pot meals all center around flavorful vegetables and spices.
- If you love it cooked, eat it raw, and vice versa. Broccoli is one of my favorite vegetables. I love it raw, dipped in blue cheese, and I also like it roasted with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper flakes.
- For a cheap lunch on the go, my top choice is the #6 JJ Unwich at Jimmy John's, half mayo, half mustard. It's the vegetarian sandwich (provolone, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, avocado) but wrapped in 2 giant lettuce leaves instead of a white bread roll. It's literally a salad in convenient, eat-while-driving, sandwich form. Amazing!
What else? Any other veggie lovers out there have any tips on how to incorporate vegetables and fruits into every meal? I'm admittedly not a huge fruit person, but I do always have bananas around for blending into smoothies (with strawberry yogurt and Odwalla Mango Tango juice, yum) and slicing over cereal when I eat cereal. I like dried fruits and usually have a bag of dried apricots and/or raisins around. Raisins in particular taste delicious when mixed with raw almonds; I eat a handful of that for breakfast every morning. And I'm trying to get in the habit of buying whatever fruits are on sale for the week and incorporating them into fresh juices. I'd forgotten my roomie has a nice juicer so it's been dusted off and is starting to get a regular workout again.