Sunday, May 18, 2014

Vegging Out

Eat yer veggies.  How many times has that refrain come out of someone's mouth in your general vicinity over a lifetime?   Especially when you were younger, and veggies seemed like an enormous hardship at every meal (unless you were me, who loved veggies so much growing up that I would have second and third helpings of broccoli...I know!). 

For some reason, as life has gotten busier and busier for me, I have found it tougher to work a variety of veggies into our day to day diet. 

I do try, truly I do.  I buy a lovely rainbow variety of tasty veggies at the store, but then they languish in the fridge because I can't get time or energy to do prep after a long day at school, and then I end up wasting way too much veg that gets thrown out of the produce bins, looking soggy and sad at being forgotten.

So, I'm trying an experiment this week to see if I can't do a bit better.

Today, my plan is to clean out the fridge and to cut up a number of veggies that I can toss into my lunch or into dinner menu possibilities the front part of the week.  Not so much that they will go bad before they get eaten, but enough that it will be easier for my lunch-packing rush in the mornings.

Two weeks to go in school, and I still feel like I am running out the door every day.  It is wearing me out, and I need summer to recharge.  But in the meantime, I'd like to plug more veggies into the daily mix so the antioxidants and vitamins can help me gut my way through the end of the year with a little more pep.

How do you incorporate more healthy produce into your day to day?  Do tell.  I'd love some new hints and tips on making this work a little better at our house.

(Photo via Jennifer.)


Anonymous said...

We use an organic food delivery service that offers ready-prepped vegetables as well as those fresh off the vine. I love being able to get kale already washed and chopped--takes no time at all to get it on the stove. And butternut squash--already cubed, and in a nice recyclable container. Steam it in the microwave for 8 minutes and voila!

Other helpful techniques--buy hummus, and take it as your lunch main dish, along with chips or cut-up raw veggies to dip in it. Very filling.

You can also buy a small salad (with a variety of fresh veggies and a small container of dressing). Don't feel guilty about letting someone else do the prep work for you--you'll feel very righteous as you eat your healthy lunch.

We will make a pot of beans on the weekend, then fill several small containers for weekday lunches. You can make a nice lunch from a cup of beans, a cup of leftover rice, a carrot or two, and some fruit.

And in general, the key is fixing lots of vegetables when you cook dinner, enough so that you'll have leftovers to pack up for lunches. In the morning, just grab a random sampling of small containers and you'll have a good lunch.

--Sandia Blanca--

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Sandra, those are some awesome ideas. Thanks so much for sharing them! We eat a LOT of hummus at our house - love it on everything. :)

Anonymous said...

One more easy thing I forgot--stock up on cans of V8--very easy to pop it in your lunch and add more servings of vegetables.

--Sandia Blanca--

Pegleg said...

Christy, so glad you are trying to add more vegetables to your diet. I've been following a whole foods, plant-based diet for a year and a half. I grew up on a dairy farm, so giving up meat and dairy was serious business to me, but after making this change, I feel so much better, lost 30+ pounds without even trying, lowered cholesterol and blood pressure, etc., I would not return to old ways of eating for anything.

Some tips - eat lots of greens, especially spinach (Popeye was right!).

If at all possible, prep your veggies right from the market - don't put them in the fridge until ready to eat. Greens will keep quite nicely if after washing you roll them up damp paper towels and then bag them.

Use your blender to make yourself smoothies with frozen or fresh fruits like bananas and mango and throw in some greens when you do that. You'll love them and so will your daughter.

If you have a juicer, you can get an enormous veggie boost making your own juices with fresh fruits and veggies. I found out that I absolutely love fresh carrot juice and fresh beet juice - bottled or frozen juices just do not compare. Make up enough of these juices for 2 or 3 days and take them to work with you.

Raw veggies are wonderful, but cooked vegetables should not be overlooked. Beans of all kinds pack a lot of nutrition. I cook up a big pot of beans on weekends and we eat on them throughout the week. Canned beans, without salt are also good options (just rinse and drain before eating). Roast your favorite root vegetables - potatoes (white, purple and/or sweet), carrots, parsnips, onions, and throw some mushrooms. Just rub the washed veggies in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and maybe some garlic. Then throw them in the oven and roast till tender and onions are caramelized. Cook up way more than you need for one meal and have the leftovers for lunch or dinner for a couple of days. Absolutely wonderful! And easy!

Make soup! Use vegetable broths and/or stocks (see below) as your base and add all the veggies you like. Easy to do and depending on the ingredients you use, can add a really good nutritional boost.

Purchase prepared low-sodium vegetable broths and stocks to cook with, instead of oils. This will add incredible flavor to the food you cook and no fat!

Experiment with all kinds of spices and condiments (just read the labels carefully).

The Happy Herbivore website has some really good menu ideas and recipes and if you have not read "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell or "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., do so now. They are both great books on nutrition and the role it plays in our overall health and they have meal plans and recipes as well.

Good luck and good health!

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Sandia -- we love V8! But I forget about it sometimes, so thanks for the reminder. As we approach the hotter weather of summer, I like to use the Spicy V8 as a base for a quick gazpacho in our vitamix blender -- a can of spicy V8, and tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, a couple of green onions, zucchini or yellow squash, and whatever is fresh from our garden or the farmer's market. You just whiz it around to blend, just enough to get tiny chunks but not enough to completely liquify it. Then I keep it in a container in the fridge. It's wonderfully cold on a hot day, and seriously healthy as a quick lunch. :)

Christy Hardin Smith said...

Pegleg -- those are all such wonderful tips. Thank you so much for taking the time to share them! Love the idea about a big pot of beans to use all week -- I used to do that with our crockpot, so they could cook all day without me having to stand over and watch the pot, and had completely forgotten about that until reading your tip. :)