"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Veggies: an Admission

I eat well, but I have to admit that eating my vegetables has been a struggle of late. It was so much easier when I was cooking for more than me, as I would make sure to have a healthy meal prepared when I knew others were eating (and perhaps judging me...).

Fewer than 5% of Americans eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables per day. I eat five servings of fruit with no trouble (tasty and no prep time!), but when the current food pyramid is 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 of vegetables, things get trickier for me. Nuts don't count, nor do legumes, as they get put into the "meat" category, but I eat both daily. Corn, wild rice, brown rice and even potatoes don't count, as they get put in the starch category. Tomatoes are a fruit. That's about 5 "non-vegetables" per day I'm eating.

The raw and the cooked

(That was the title of an album by Fine Young Cannibals. Guessing cannibals don't eat their vegetables.)

When I was a kid, vegetables usually meant some vaguely green glop, as my mother was not the best of cooks and felt that foods should be cooked until the consistency of baby food. It wasn't until I was 28 that I'd ever had fresh spinach and I was shocked that I liked it. Unfortunately, a serving of raw spinach is about 3 cups (cooked it goes down to 1/2 cup) and a plate of it looks daunting. There's a lot of vegetables I don't like cooked - onions and carrots come to mind immediately - and a few I won't eat raw, but like cooked, like broccoli.

I, like a lot of people, would buy something like a bunch of celery and watch it slowly change colors in my refrigerator while I ate something else. It just wasn't worth the time to prepare, even if that just meant rinsing and chopping.

Making the world safe for vegetables

Everyone has to find their own way to get their vegetables. I found that the biggest obstacles I had were that I wouldn't eat them if they took time to prepare when I was hungry, that a single vegetable became boring and I'd grow satiated before finishing (but multiple veggies meant more prep time), that cooking for one meant that things would start to spoil before I had finished them.

My solution was to buy a variety of vegetables, cook them all at once, then divide them into one-day servings and store them in my refrigerator (and/or freezer). The vegetables I don't like the texture of cooked become interesting textures when used in combination. As they've been cooked, prep becomes tossing them in the microwave. To avoid the day-to-day sameness, I'd add different spices and herbs each day (tending to curry, garlic, horseradish - I like my veggies a bit hot).

Typical combination:

carrot, celery, dill,  and/or fennel

beet (leaves or bulb), chard or spinach

asparagus, chive, onion or shallots

bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, radish, rutabaga or turnip (Brussels sprouts would fit in this group, but we all have something we won't eat and that's where I draw the line)

mushrooms: both button and one other (shiitake, crimini, oyster, etc.)

beans. [Almost always red lentils. The only legumes that aren't unappealingly "beany" to me are these and black beans. Though they don't count in the vegetable total, they work beautifully here, adding texture and color and absorbing the liquid which leaches out some nutrients and binding all together.]

Almost magically, my vegetable total goes up to 5 or more.


Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I thought there was no genuine taxonomic difference between vegetables and fruits and that the whole is-a-tomato-a-vegetable-or-a-fruit kerfuffle stemmed from a court case declaring it a vegetable (or a fruit; I can't remember)? So that if you're supposed to have, say, 2 veggies and one fruit per meal, three pieces of fruit is basically the functional equivalent because, hey, fruit? Vegetable? There's no meaningful distinction.

I'm sure you'll patiently explain to me why I'm wrong about that. But it's not my argument. It's just something I heard. From some guy. Then he sold me this Rolex for TWENTY BUCKS!1!


Re: Your Twins: I kinda wanna see a re-match between the Phils and the Yankees, but when i watch the yankees-twins games I can't help but root for the twins. Or against the Yankees, actually. Because they're like that kid with the punchable face. You really don't want to punch him in his face, but it's an EVIL face and so you can't help yourself.

And so I can't watch a Yankees game and root for them even when I sorta want them to win?

But not really?


SteveQ said...

Fruits are seed-containing, vegetables are not (The court case did say that tomatoes were a vegetable. The state of Oklahoma decided that pi equals 3). I'm using the definition of what is and is not a vegetable as used in the current USDA Food Pyramid.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

ZOMG!1! That means ... this isn't a genuine Rolex on my wrist?

No wonder it's misspelt "Pole-axe"!