As part of my New Year’s resolution to live a healthier lifestyle, I’ve decided to eat more vegetables. “Sure, you and 99% of the pudgy, artery-clogged free world,” you’re thinking. Do you smell failure? Are you skeptical? I understand your skepticism.
You’d have to be a cave-dweller not to have heard the news that most of us are not eating our veggies. I’ve tried too, in the past, to include them regularly in my diet. But, enough vegetables have gone bad in my refrigerator to feed 99% of the free world.
Why is it so hard? What is the problem? Well, I don’t really know what your problem is, but I’ll tell you about mine. Vegetables don’t normally satisfy my appetite unless they’re battered and fried, salted, and dipped in a rich sauce. There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the open. Unfortunately, just knowing what the problem is won’t make me healthier.
But I’m figuring a few things out. First, introducing healthier food choices into my diet has to be gradual. And second, I have to find a way to make vegetables palatable for my taste buds, sans the crunchy coating and without swimming in hot grease. What to do?
I absolutely do not have it all figured out yet, but here are some of my personal observations and suggestions about incorporating vegetables into your meals…
You must have good knives, for slicing and chopping. It’s just too much trouble, not to mention dangerous, to chop vegetables with a dull knife. And you need a big chopping board so you can spread out without knocking things off on the floor.
When I make a vegetable salad using things like carrots, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, squash, and peppers, I put them in a microwaveable dish with a few tablespoons of water and a dash of salt (a DASH!), and nuke them in the microwave for about three minutes first. Why? Raw vegetables really leave me cold, and I find this helps wake up the flavor. Give it a try. Just don’t cook them longer than three minutes, or they‘ll be soggy.
One super easy thing to do is combine two vegetables….like broccoli or cauliflower and carrots….with a little finely minced onion, some halved cherry tomatoes (don’t put those in the microwave), a can of rinsed kidney beans or chickpeas, and some low-fat vinaigrette. You can make a large batch ahead of time and eat it for days. The beans really help to add that filling, protein-y quality, but to make it even more substantial, you can serve it with couscous, or a small can of tuna mixed in. Honestly, it’s not bad.
Another kitchen basic that’s really useful is a blender or food processor. I just have a rudimentary blender, which so far has worked fine. And people, get a crock pot. Please! I don’t care if it does remind you of your grandmother, it’s not your grandma’s crock pot. Really! You don’t even have to use recipes.
Yesterday morning at the grocery, I got two sweet potatoes, two russet potatoes, a handful of baby carrots, and some mushrooms. I peeled and chopped the potatoes, sliced the carrots in half, broke apart the mushrooms with my hands, and put them all in the crock pot. I threw in about ten prunes, cut in half, and a small handful of raisins.
Then I poured in a can of drained garbanzo beans (or lentils would be good) and a can of chopped tomatoes.
I coarsely chopped an onion, a clove of garlic, and a little chunk of fresh ginger, and put them in the blender.
Also in the blender, I put a tablespoon each of coriander, cumin, and paprika. And a dash (a DASH!) of salt, some cayenne pepper, and a little cinnamon. Then I put in a tablespoon of olive oil, a can of vegetable broth, and pulsed the blender to make a puree. (The puree added the thicker texture that teases me into feeling satiated.) Then I poured the mixture over the stuff in the crock pot.
I set the crock pot on low and left. Eight hours later, I put a few pieces of pita bread in the oven to heat up, and opened a container of hummus that I got in the deli section. I made a little couscous to spoon the vegetables and sauce over(unbelievably easy) and my meal was done. Rich, colorful, textural, spicy, slightly sweet, creamy, crunchy, satisfying and healthy!
I’m not saying I’ll never eat a burger and onion rings again. I’m just saying that if I have vegetables once….then twice….then three times a week….I’ll be on the way to that healthier lifestyle!
Will keep you posted…..C