Monday, February 16, 2009

Eat Your Vegetables!

I often get asked for easy tips on eating healthy.  One of my main focuses, for a healthy diet, has always been on vegetables.  You've always heard it from mom: "Eat those vegetables!"  An abundant array of colorful veggies should be our main source of vitamins...not synthetic bottled supplements, filling your body with fake junk that is barely absorbed.  If your vitamins are not made from whole foods, then they are synthetic vitamins, which your body isn't capable of fully absorbing (so, check your source of vitamins!).  Not only are you wasting money on those bottles but your are also wasting effort and energy that it takes for your body to try and process them.  (Read here for more info from one of many articles on this topic.)  Though, as a side note, if you feel that you are still lacking in your diet and need to take a multi-vitamin, I highly suggest a good whole food vitamin:  check out 'New Chapter' vitamins - it's the brand of prenatals that carried me through my pregnancy.  They are sold at most health food stores and at great discounts online.

If you are eating your vegetables, like our ancestors always did, then you won't have such a dire need for supplements...but, most importantly, your body will be enriched and healthier than ever before!  Have you ever asked yourself how our ancestors got their nourishment?  They never bought it in a bottle.  They got it straight from the right foods. 
So, when I first started my journey towards a healthier lifestyle, I knew that I needed to start incorporating a much more colorful array of produce than what I was eating before.  The more colors of veggies that you eat, the more nutrients and vitamins your body will be receiving.  I was instructed by my naturopath to try and eat 6-8 different colored veggies with each meal.  Phew!  I was overwhelmed by this idea!  The main thing that intimidated me was having to constantly prepare all of these vegetables.  I hated chopping veggies and rarely made a salad beyond torn lettuce and baby carrots.  But, then I learned the simplest piece of advice for staying on top of this crucial necessity for my body:
Buy 6-8 different types of vegetables, of varying colors.  For example, I typically try to buy what's in season, first of all, but a good basic assortment usually consists of:  carrots, celery, kale, red cabbage, broccoli, red or green peppers (if in season), zucchini, and maybe tomatoes (if in season). Darker greens have more vitamins in them.  Then chop a small portion (like a 1/4) of each vegetable and store them all together in a large container in the fridge.  Voila!  Now, you have this large mix of freshly chop vegetables always on hand to mix in with anything.  With this mix, you may toss a handful in with some lettuce or spinach leaves and have a salad.  You can saute it in with scrambled eggs (add some goat cheese and it makes for a fab-o breakfast!).  You may saute it up with some sausage or chicken for a quick lunch or dinner - get creative with the seasonings or sauces.  Or you can steam a handful of the mixed that with butter and S&P as a side with your main course or toss it with some pasta or rice or soup!  Once I established this easy discipline of making sure that I have a container full of freshly chopped veggies always on hand, it makes it sooo much easier to make sure that I am always eating a wonderfully balanced meal and that I am getting those nutrients that I need.  My biggest set back beforehand was just the prep of always chopping vegetables when I wanted a salad or something.  I'm lazy.  When I'm hungry, I want to eat now.  This wonderful habit helps to give me my food now and give it to me healthy.  I would say that my large container of chopped veggies lasts us about 3-4, that's only chopping like twice a week!  Not bad.  Anyone could handle that!
I personally believe that above all other ways of eating, this is one of the best and easiest ways to get started on the healthy track.  Don't get yourself overwhelmed by lacto-fermented drinks or eating low-fat or even with books like Nourishing Traditions if you are new to these ideas.  Don't get me wrong...I LOVE that book, but it is not always for the beginner.  Most people that I come across that say they wish to eat better are usually looking for an easy answer.  This is my easy answer.  And, I believe that once you start incorporating these veggies in with your meals, you will start decreasing the amount of other unhealthy things that you may have previously chosen or eaten with your main  packaged/processed foods, foods w/saturated fats...etc.  And, of course, I always have to recommend going organic...but, I do know that many people who wish to eat healthier or are new to all this are still not willing to pay for organic items.  So, if it comes down to that and you think you just can't afford organic or it's just not the priority for you yet....still buy all the veggies and know that you're doing so much better than before!  I will write my thoughts on sacrificing for the higher prices of organic foods some other time.

So, to go along with your new colorful salads, I thought I would include a new favorite salad dressing of mine.  I don't typically buy dressings - too much crap in them.  We usually just use EVOO and balsamic vinegar, but I came across this recipe and it has made my salads oooohhhh-sooo-yummy!

2 tsp. dried dill or 1 TB of fresh chopped dill
1 TB Sherry wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey
S&P to taste

Whisk altogether, and you have it!


Pink Dogwood said...

I can vouch for the salad dressing - it is so tasty!!

Lacey said...

MMMmmmm... I need to get back into my veggie chopping habit! Since summer, I've been SUPER lazy and mostly eating mushrooms(cause they're NOT slugs, Jenny!)onions, and maybe a root veggie in there. For awhile we ate Kale in EVERYTHING... because I could just tear a piece up. But I am RE-inspired to do my multi-veggie chopping again, cause it's actually easier than dicing my onion/mushroom/carrot routine for every meal!