We are more than halfway through the summer! I hope you are taking time to enjoy this beautiful sunshine and steamy weather! Please take time to enjoy yourself. Too often we put off the things we enjoy and just do the things other people want or need. So, plan some healthy time just for you!
Today I want to give you some hints and strategies about vegetables, and this is why: Vegetables provide essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals that the body needs for its health and wellbeing. And vegetables are the least popular foods in our society; many of us don’t get enough. The CDC recommendations are that we should eat two to three cups of veggies a day; and less than 10 % of Americans meet that goal. This is important because a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with all sorts of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and certain cancers.
Some of the best fruits and vegetables are now becoming available. I like best to buy vegetables locally grown at a farmers’ market or produce stand. This means they haven’t spent four or five days traveling across country to get to me, and I can ask questions about how they are grown.
Choose the freshest you can find, with firm smooth skins, and organic if that is affordable. The most common summer vegetables are: arugula, beets, carrots, cabbage, celery, collard greens, cucumbers, kale, onions, okra, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, snow peas and snap peas, and zucchini.
What makes vegetables taste good? Eating them while they are fresh. If you won’t be able to eat them fresh, consider whether you can cook and save them for a few days, or cook and freeze them. Do not let lettuce – romaine, kale, or arugula too – mix with other vegetables for a couple of days; the lettuce will no longer be crisp and the other vegetables will be wilted and soft. Wash and slice three or four days of salad vegetables, but do not mix them. Keep them in separate baggies and mix them when you are ready to eat them. Or you could make a “salad bar” if you have family members with strong preferences, and everyone can choose their own favorites.
One of the problems with getting us to eat more vegetables is that some of us don’t like them, and sometimes they feel boring. Many phytochemicals (plant nutrients active in our bodies) can give vegetables a bitter taste or a funny odor, and this bothers some folk. So, spice it up! Cook the vegetables in low sodium sugar free broth and add spices or toppings. For example:
Garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cilantro for an Asian flavor (or even just garlic or ginger on your carrots)
Chop garlic and onion, brown, then add the veggies with oregano, basil and thyme and stir-fry
Cloves, garam masala, mustard seeds, turmeric and/or saffron for a bit of Indian flavor
And it is so easy to roast vegetables! Start with zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes and red pepper, snap peas. onion, or whatever else is hanging out in your vegetable drawer. Spray a rimmed baking pan with oil or a cooking spray; On top of the stove chop 1 clove of garlic per cup of vegetables, sauté in 1 Tbsp oil per clove and toss over the vegetables until they are coated; roast uncovered at 450 degrees for 15-30 minutes until they are crispy and just start to brown. Toss every 10-15 minutes while roasting. Enjoy. Count each two cups of vegetables as having one Tablespoon oil added.
And we make ourselves crazy looking for a good salad dressing! Let me tell you the principle: a salad dressing needs to be 1/3 oil, 1/3 vinegar/citrus juice (or other acidic liquid), and 1/3 seasoning. So, start with olive oil. Measure four tablespoons, 60 gm, ¼ cup into your bowl. Please use a good quality oil here, but it can be any flavor you like.
Now mince 2 cloves of garlic and add it. Now add ¼ cup lemon juice or red wine vinegar, or any other sugar free vinegar whose taste you like. Then a teaspoon or two or a tablespoon of Dijon mustard and ½ teaspoon or more of salt and pepper. Mix them well and enjoy.
One half cup is eight tablespoons, so each tablespoon contains 7.5 gm fat.
This is not hard to calculate, don’t make yourself crazy; but if you need help or it does not work out, just call or email me!
Blessings to you,