Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Eat a damn vegetable

If you’re at all like me, then you’re also one of the 9 out of 10 Americans who don’t eat enough fruits and veggies and for whom no amount of PSA messaging is likely to change that.

The reasons hardly matter, be they access, preparation, taste, or disinterest. There’s no need to judge ourselves harshly for this “failure” either.  I’m sure we all have enough other stress in our lives—between work, training, commuting, kids, partners, art, chores, volunteering, activism, etc.—that fretting over finishing your peas just isn’t worth it.

But (again), if you’re at all like me, then you probably also go through cycles of trying to increase or diversify your veggie intake—a week, a month, or more at a time, you might find the motivation and determination to make it happen. Even then, it may take A LOT of energy to plan and execute.

Here I share some ideas for the in-between times when you have interest in getting more produce but have limited time, energy, desire, or funds. These are my favorite ways (or “hacks” if this were a clickbait listicle) to eat a damn vegetable, specifically simple ways to sneak them into my usual diet.

  • Fruit smoothies: Preparing your own breakfast smoothies is an easy way to get both fruits AND veggies. My go-to recipe includes 1 or two bananas, a handful of baby spinach, ginger, granola, almond milk, vanilla yogurt, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder (because I also struggle to get enough protein). The great thing about spinach is that it has a mild flavor easily covered by the other ingredients and adds a lot of important nutrients to the mix. Pinterest of course has a lot of recipe suggestions, and you can add any variation of fruits and veggies that you like.
  • Frozen Steamfresh veggie and protein mixes (or whatever brand you like): Technology has come a long way such that flash-freezing produce is the norm, and the method preserves nutrients just as well as canning. Supermarkets offer lots of tasty vegetable mixes, some with light sauce or seasoning and/or added protein items. And you can just throw the whole bag in the microwave for five minutes and pour out a fresh, hot bowl full of veggies. Hawaiian style is my favorite: whole grains, shelled edamame, carrots, pineapple, and white beans with a pineapple ginger sauce.
  • Baby food: I actually got this idea when I was pet-sitting my sisters’ sugar gliders once. They get a tub of baby food each day, but I splashed a bit when I opened the food and licked it off my fingers without a thought. Turns out that baby food fruit and veggie mixes are freakin’ delicious (especially when chilled). So I buy the pouches with a cap from the grocery store to snack on during the day, and I get a wider variety of produce than I’d ever buy and prepare myself: pumpkin, squash, beets, and even kale masked by yummier things like mango and raspberry.
  • Subscription boxes: I don't know yet whether I'm recommending these, but next week I'm starting my free trial of Blue Apron, so I'll be back to write more about it.
Balancing your eating habits doesn't have to be a chore and doesn't require cutting out all sweets and restricting your favorite foods. Just add some variety and nutrients when you can.

What are your favorite ways to prepare and eat fruits and vegetables?

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