Our conversations about food used to go a lot like this…
Rob – (looking in the fridge) “I don’t think we have anything to make for dinner, we should make a list for the grocery store.”
Me – “Well, some steak sounds good, do we have potatoes in the pantry?”
Rob – “Yes, we do! I’ll make some mashed potatoes if you run to the store?”
Me – “Sounds good”
I would go to the back of the grocery store, where there are cases of different cuts of steaks and choose something that looked good, perhaps a sirloin. I would come home to a hot grill and put on the steaks while Rob finished up our potatoes, and our whole family would sit down for dinner. We would eat until our stomachs hurt and our pants were too tight, then laze around on the couch for the rest of the night. In my mind, that used to be the perfect evening with my family, along with the perfect dinner.
Now I realize how much we were missing out on. I’m not talking about missed opportunities for family bonding over a board game or interesting conversations with the crazies because of time that we wasted, but physically, there was something that used to be missing from almost all of our dinners, and lunches, and even breakfasts.
Where’s the vegetables?
So often relegated to being a neglected side dish, we never made a habit of planning a balanced and healthy vegetable to go with our meals. Most times it would cross my mind that there wasn’t any real produce on my plate right around the time it was ready to eat, so I would quickly look for a head of lettuce to chop up for a quick side salad, or even a can of green beans to quickly nuke in the microwave. Being such a food nerd, I knew better than to consistently neglect the most important food group, but I still did. I would think to myself, “Well, I have the protein which I need to be strong, and the starch will help to fill me up…I’ll just eat a salad tomorrow.” But I rarely would.
I grew up knowing that vegetables were “good” for you… being taught that I wouldn’t be allowed to have any dessert until at least the vegetables on my plate were finished. I went to culinary school, where one of my favorite classes was “Introduction to Gastronomy.” Basically an introduction to every type of plant based food there is. I was amazed by all the different flavors and colors of the produce we were learning about. Every day there were tables of new exotic fruits and veggies we would look at and sample, and still we were barely able to put a dent in the millions more out there. But I still felt that vegetables were something that you HAD to eat, even if you were forcing yourself to do so.
I’m not the only one who feels this way. Think about the last time you were out to eat…more than likely you based your decision on what animal protein you wanted to eat first, then choose a side like fries or potatoes or rice. Only when prompted by the server for a side salad or that your meal includes another side do you give any thought to what else you should get. What about the last time you went to a large potluck gathering, maybe a family reunion or graduation party. If you take a look at the table of food, it is always the baked mac and cheese or potato salad that are front and center and are finished first, while the veggie trays and chopped salad are left at the end of the table…just as full as when your well meaning Aunt first brought them.
Well, I feel like vegetables have been neglected for long enough, especially in my mind. One of the most enjoyable parts of this experience has been getting to know and appreciate vegetables for all that they do and how naturally delicious they are. There is something amazingly gratifying about eating a plate of food that is colorful, vibrant and alive, and as soon as it goes into your body, you can feel the goodness going in. I think that is one of the reasons why juicing is SO addictive once you get started. All the micronutrients from the fruits and vegetables are absorbed into your body within 15 minutes of drinking them. They go to work repairing and cleaning your cells, making them stronger and giving you more energy and stamina…in just 15 minutes!
Vegetables are the perfect food for our bodies, especially if, like me, you are trying to lose weight. Think about it like this…100 calories of vegetables, especially of the dark green leafy variety do a lot more to fill you up and quench those hunger cravings than 100 calories of fried chicken do. Would you rather eat and enjoy a plate heaping over with 3 cups of spinach, 10 baby carrots, a green bell pepper, garlic, 1/4 an onion and 10 cherry tomatoes or…one chicken wing. Both have approximately 100 calories, but what do you think would be more effective at satisfying your hunger?
Spinach, baby greens, and arugula salad with chickpeas, cucumber, tomato and red onion.
White miso dressing with orange, ginger and garlic for…
Enriched noodle bowl. Gluten free pasta with edamame, spring onions, carrots, cucumber, red bell pepper, cilantro and sesame seeds, tossed with the miso dressing.
I’m absolutely in love with the vegetable based dishes we have been making. They are visually so stunning and beautiful that you feel good just looking at your food…let alone eating it.
Till next time…