Friday, February 3, 2012

A Veggie Revolution!

by Dina Sleiman

Of course I’ve been told my whole life to eat my vegetables. Problem is, I’ve never been much of a fan. Generally I have some sort of vegetable, hopefully healthier than potatoes or corn, in my dinner each night. I tend to stick with stir frys and soups where the vegetables are well disguised. But lately (thanks largely to my body rejecting white sugar and flour) I’ve been in the midst of a vegetable revolution. Veggies really are the healthiest foods you can eat. You can’t go wrong with them. And unless you cover them with crappy saturated fats, you really can’t eat too many. Veggies even help the body fight disease.

Perhaps veggies are the real food of the gods. After all, what did God give us to eat in the Garden of Eden? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. All wonderful wholesome foods. Then add in a little bit of the meat he permitted later, meat carefully butchered without fat or blood. And there you have a balanced diet. But all those other foods, healthy as they are, need to be eaten in moderation to maintain a healthy weight. And now I’m having flashbacks to the all fruit diet I tried in high school, and yes, I did manage to gain five pounds. Whereas veggies are a veritable free for all.

Why are veggies so good for you? Here’s a quick list in case you need a reminder.

1)      Low fat
2)      High in vitamins and minerals including anti-oxidants
3)      High fiber
4)      Low and even negative calorie counts
5)      Raw veggies provide enzymes which aid digestion
6)      Raw veggies help to cleanse the body
7)      Veggies fill you up and keep you from eating unhealthy foods

In fact, here’s a food chart that pretty well describes what I’ve been eating lately, and how we probably all should strive to eat. Once you eat those 5-7 servings of veggies you won’t have much room left for junk.

So the biggest problem for me was how to choke down those veggies. I’m not a fan of the classic iceberg lettuce and canned vegetables. I don’t like green peppers or peas. But there’s a whole world of vegetables out there I’ve been discovering. And the main trick is preparing them right. For raw veggies I’ve found I love salads with fruits and nuts involved. Even more healthy food. Add a little lowfat cheese like feta and some light fruity vinaigrette. Yum!

And for my cooked veggies, I’ve discovered I love just about anything with cold-pressed olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast it in the oven or saute it on the stove, and I’m one veggie eating fool. Brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, and carrots are all tres yummy this way. And cauliflower. Don’t even get my started on cauliflower. Let’s just say it tests the strength of our family togetherness when I roast cauliflower. No fist fights have broken out yet, but it’s been close. (Oh, and please don’t mention to Christi the night she was at dance and we ate it all without telling her.)

What about those potatoes you might ask? Not really one of the good ones. But…sweet potatoes are awesome. I used to think they were gross. All goopy from the can with sickly sweet stuff on top. Not so the baked sweet potato. I like it with just a little smart balance butter and salt.

Don’t forget the squash family. Butternut, acorn, and our favorite, spaghetti. Yes, there are lots of interesting vegetables out there. These ones really fill you up.

And for a thick, meaty vegetable, try portabella mushrooms and eggplant. Both especially awesome in Italian and Chinese food.

So hopefully this has gotten your veggie juices flowing. Here’s my roasted veggie recipe for anyone who’s hungry.

1. Slather finger-food size cuts of veggies in olive oil. (Try carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, or asparagus)

2. Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Roast on cookie sheet at 435 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, until the olive oil caramelizes.

What are your favorite vegetables? Do you have any favorite recipes? Have you discovered any new and exciting veggies dishes lately?


  1. I could very well eat veggies for dinner every night. Nothing says happy like the smell of sauteed cabbage, eh?

    Sesame oil, fresh ginger, some carrots, celery and cabbage sauteed to a nice carmelized brown? low sodium soy sauce. yum.

    I also love zuchinni microwaved (Thin slices) with spray butter and dried basil.

    Sweet potatoes are so good. I microwave them naked for 4-6 minutes. Peel off the skin and BAM!
    good stuff. healthy but high in calories.

    Roasted cauliflower is wonderful, isn't it?
    I love peas (not canned) but I love french style green beans canned. I stir them up in a saute pan, with very little liquid and I add a dash of chili paste and spray butter. Hot and a bit sweet. Who knew?
    and about 100 calories for a plateful...

    And spaghetti squash - my favorite because I can't eat pasta. I make a marinara out of crushed tomatoes and mushrooms and plenty of spices, and I usually cook zucchini too. Then put it all on top of the SS with a nice portion of grated romano.
    well, i'm getting really hungry talking about food and not an unhealthy thing in the bunch. Thanks Dina.

    So, Dina have you tried jicama as a snack?

  2. I love cabbage, Deb. I use a similar recipe when I make homemade fried rice or teriyaki chicken.

    Those all sound awesome!

    But I haven't heard of jicama. Although I have found some dried veggie snacks I like.

  3. I prefer raw vegetables to cooked. There are very few that I'll eat when cooked. Corn, potatoes and green beans. The rest, I eat raw.

    Dina, I like to add nuts to salad, too. Yum. And I nix iceberg lettuce when at all possible.

    I'm reading a nutrition book that says cashews are a fruit, not a nut. I haven't had time to research that one yet. Can anyone explain?

  4. Hmm...I'm in the dark about cashews. I suppose it must have something to do with how they grow.

    Yeah, no iceberg for me. Romaine, spinach, baby field greens, etc...

  5. thanks for the roasted vege recipe, i must try this. i want to give my two year old healthy eating habits from the start so he doesn't have the same weight issues that mommy has (i'm so praying he didn't inherit my Polish "sloth" metabolism).

    so many good food ideas that appear to be relatively quick to fix (which is very important to me - i've not much spare time and most healthy cooking seems to take so much more time)

    yay for healthy eating!!

  6. Deb, for little kids I've had the most success getting them to eat veggies in homemade soups. Another trick is to puree veggies into tomato sauce. And when I make something like chili, I use low sodium V8 juice for the base.

  7. Great post, Dina.

    I'm blessed to have kids that love their veggies. It almost comes down to fisticuffs at the end of the meal when there are veggies left and someone dares to ask, "Does anyone want any more veggies?" Everyone knows the one doing the asking really wants to finish them off but asked out of courtesy. LOL - It's true!

    We were at a buffet once and the man across the aisle kept staring at us. Since we weren't dancing on the table, we ignored him. I actually thought it was because all 5 of us were reading books because on a previous occasion, a woman snarled at us that dinners were family time. Well, yes they are. And we all sit together and read. Or watch TV. And if someone wants to share what they're reading or watching, you stop and listen.

    Anyway, this man across the aisle finally pointed to the kids' plates and asked, "How do you get them to eat their vegetables?"

    Nick popped his head up out of his book and had a strange look on his face. "They're yummy," he said as if wondering why anyone wouldn't want to eat them.

    Of course they are. I eat 4-5 cups raw veggies every day for lunch:
    - 1 cup cut-up broccoli or cauliflower florets
    - 2 celery sticks
    - 1 cup snap peas
    - 1 red/yellow/orange pepper or green as a last resort
    - a dozen grape tomotoes if avail

    For a dip, I use 1/2 cup of a strawberry, peach or tropical fruit fat-free yogurt (Source).

    My lunch is crunchy delicious and I'm munching away for 2-3 hrs. Yes, that's a long time, but I don't get hungry before 5:30 supper. And I don't feel like snacking in the evening. (Could be my jaw is tired.LOL)

  8. That all sounds awesome, Anita. Must try veggies dipped in yogurt.

    My nieces and nephews in Lebanon all eat vegetables raw and whole like we eat fruits. It's weird. Good weird, but weird. My kids did not get that gene.

  9. Yum. I love fresh veggies. I'm lucky that my kids enjoy cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower. My son hates salad, though. Which I could eat every day. Add some kidney beans, fresh veggies, bleu, feta or asiago cheese, yum...

  10. Interestingly, my kids get better about vegetables the older they get. I only have a hard time with the 9 year old. He's even fussy about fruit. He'll eat red delicious apples, green grapes, and bananas. That's it. Can you believe it? No watermelon, no strawberries, no oranges?

  11. the cashew story is too strange. not just because it sounds so unusual but because of the biological fact that a fruit is basically a 'container' of seeds.

    Nuts are mostly a seed with the food built in for the new plant to grow... so maybe a cashew can be considered a seed that comes inside a fruit but one cashew nut can't be considered s fruit.
    If you ask me. and no one did.

  12. a fruit is basically a 'container' of seeds

    Then that would mean cucumbers and peppers are fruit? Interesting.

    It also explains why JJ - who doesn't care for fruit except apples, bananas and grapes - will cut up and eat a whole red/orange/yellow pepper for a snack. I don't like saying coloured peppers because there are the lilac and chocolate coloured ones that look good in a salad, but haven't any flavour when served alone.

    I'll add that when I buy a pint of strawberries, I'd better put a warning label on them otherwise they'll be gone by morning. I'd blame it on mice, but usually Nick is around somewhere. :)


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