Friday, September 18, 2015

Let's Talk Eats - It's All About The Veggies

Hi there!  

What have you done so far this month (it's SELF-Tember!) to take better care of you?  If the answer is nothing, take 2 minutes right now to schedule something in your calendar for tomorrow. Do it, you'll thank me! If you need some ideas, check out these posts:

Here's the first installment of my "Let's Talk Eats" series! In case you missed it, see this post for more infoInstead of becoming an unknowing victim to the Standard American Diet or "SAD," how can we be more mindful and make better choices in what we eat? 

As I mentioned in the previous post, I don't like to think about it as cutting out "bad" food.  Instead of thinking about what not to eat, let's focus on what we can eat MORE of.  That sounds so much better, doesn't it? And totally achievable! When we make choices based on things we want to add in, some of those other less desirable choices will naturally happen less frequently. Doesn't that sound easy?

I think we can probably all agree that if there were one food group that we run short on or could eat more of, it's vegetables. 
I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that vegetables are good for us. Whether you agree with the various food guidelines out there, like the USDA "Choose Myplate," one thing they all have in common is to encourage us to eat more of and a variety of vegetables.  

Just in case you haven't jumped on the veggie train, here are just a few reasons why vegetables are good for us (source):
  • High in fiber - good for digestion, as well as keeps us full and more satisfied longer
  • High in nutrients like potassium, Vitamins A & C, and folate (folic acid)
  • Low in fat and calories - which means we can eat MORE of them (and be more satisfied)!
  • There are a multitude of studies that show eating more vegetables can help prevent cancer, high blood pressure, assist in maintaining a strong immune system, etc.

Duh, Becky, you may be saying!  I know vegetables are good for me, but I just have a hard time eating them or I don't like them.  I get it. Especially if you have some bad memories from childhood about vegetables.  "If you don't eat your veggies, you can't have any dessert!"  "Finish your peas, or you can't leave the table!"  Does that sound familiar?  

So again, it's not about cutting out your dessert, but instead finding ways to add in more of these healthy veggies.   A little planning ahead will really help in the process of adding in new foods.  I know it's not always easy to come up with ideas when you're in a pinch and trying to figure out what to put on the table for your family when you just got home from a long day of work, etc.  You're much more likely to do it if you have these things available or ideas on how to cook them where your family will actually eat them (and hopefully like them!  We don't want anyone stuck in their chair or not getting dessert because they don't want to eat gross veggies!). 

Here are a few easy ways to get more vegetables in your diet:
  • Have a salad every day for lunch, can be a side salad, or even a cup of veggie soup
  • Include a non starchy vegetable at dinner - broccoli and brussels sprouts are two of our favs
  • If you eat a frozen dinner for a meal, add in extra vegetables (frozen vegs are fine!). This will keep you full longer and add in extra nutrients
  • Add spinach or kale to a smoothie - tastes like a shake! Yum!
  • For a snacks, try carrots, radishes, or peppers with hummus or celery & peanut butter (add raisins  for ants on a log - that's a good memory from childhood, right?)
  • Add spinach or other veggies to eggs for a satisfying breakfast (mushrooms, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini or other squash are all good ideas)
    • Note: This is actually one of my favorite breakfasts. Very filling, and I get in a few servings of veggies before the day gets going.  For the pic below, I:
      • Sauteed mushrooms, peppers and spinach for a few minutes
      • Added in 1/2 cup of egg whites and one egg (whole, I like them a little runny - adds a richness to the meal)
      • Covered with the lid on and wait until the eggs were done, no need to even flip!
      • Plated and topped with 1/3 avocado for some healthy fat
      • Finished with a little salt and pepper - delicious, healthy, and filling for the win!

When cooking veggies, to get the most nutrients it's best to not boil or microwave the crap out of them. If you do choose to use those methods, just blanch (boil quickly and then submerge in ice water to stop the cooking process) or microwave for a short period of time.  I love roasting vegetables, especially this time of year.  Super easy and roasting in the oven adds so much flavor.  As I mentioned above, broccoli and brussels sprouts are in our regular rotation, and P really likes them when they are roasted (it's the only way I could get him to try brussels sprouts and now they are one of his favs!).
  • Just clean and prep your veggies - cut in similar sizes to they'll cook uniformly (can do this on Sundays or as you have extra time)
  • Drizzle of olive oil (can add a little butter for flavor), a little salt and pepper to taste, and then roast for 20-30 minutes at 350* stirring halfway through.  Time/temp may vary for different veggies. Experiment with what works for you and your family!
  • Here's a great basic recipe for "Easy Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts"
  • Another great tutorial: "How to Roast Vegetables (4 ways)"

Other Miscellaneous tips:
  • Veggies can be prepped ahead of time and added to things like salads, soups, wraps, or eggs. Having them on hand makes it much more likely that you'll use them.
    • Chop up or clean all your veggies on Sunday or right when you bring them home
  • Roast a big batch of veggiesyou can add them to your eggs the next day or even add them to a salad at lunch.  Yum!!
  • Try a new to you veggie like jicama, cauliflower, beets, or brussels sprouts- if in doubt, google something and you'll find lots of recipes out there. Experimenting is good!
Here are some other posts with some great veggie recipe ideas:
    There's so much great information out there, and I realize this is just scratching the surface for what all you can do to get more vegetables in each day, so this is just a start!  Have fun with it and let me know how it goes.  Veggies are our friends!!

    How can you add in another vegetable to a meal or snack today?  Please share with me in the comments!

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