Monday, June 6, 2011

Healthy Living Principle #2: Eat More Vegetables

Healthy Living Principle #2: Eat More Vegetables.  Vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for health and optimal body function.  Everyone's diet could be better with the inclusion of a few more veggies, especially the leafy green kind.  Think about it, at how many meals and snacks do you actually eat vegetables?  When you do eat them, how much do you eat?  Do you eat the obligatory 2 pieces of broccoli so you can check the box on getting your veggies for the day?

Did you know that nutritionally greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. You don't have to eat them raw or cooked all the time; it's a good idea to eat a combination of cooked and raw vegetables. And eat what you like, try new vegetables and experiment with how to prepare them and learn how you like them. You may like carrots raw but hate them cooked, or you may think that brussel sprouts are gross and have memories of your parents forcing you to eat them before you could leave the table when you were a kid. But try a shredded brussel sprout salad or sauteed in grass fed butter and you could find that they are delcious.

Just adding more vegetables to you diet is the first step, and adding any veggies: fresh or frozen is a good start.  But just as in Healthy Living Principle #1: Eat Real, Whole, Unprocessed Foods remember that ultimately food quality matters.  Aim for seasonal, local, and if possible organic vegetables.  Find a local farmer's market or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to sign up for where you can have a constant supply of local healthy vegetables that are in season.  Based on where you live, what is in season is what your body needs to adapt to and thrive in your environment so while it's ok to eat spinach year round, its best to more of it when it's in season in your area.  Also remember to eat lots of colors, leafy green vegetable like arugula, endive, chicory, lettuce, mesclun, spinach, swiss chard, and kale are nutritional powerhouses, but don't forget to eat vegetables that are other colors as well. Red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, and purple cabbage are great ways to add a rainbow of vitamins and antioxidants to your diet. For some guidance on what new vegetables to try, check out Whole 9's seasonal vegetable list - bonus it also indicates the "dirtiest" vegetables and the "clean" ones to help you decide on a tight budget where to splurge and where to save on organic choices.

This year I have my own small garden and I've signed up to share a CSA box with a neighbor,  plus my access to local farmers markets like the Upper Merion Farmers market and the over abundance from my mom's garden keep me knee deep in vegetables all summer long and well into the fall.  What is your biggest challenge in eating more vegetables?  If you already eat lots of vegetables, it's time to think about the quality and the variety of what you eat.  I encourage you to go to your local famer's market and try something new this week and try to add veggies to at least one more meal or snack than you do right now.


  1. I completely hate the taste of vegetables. The texture (crunchy and moist) also skeeves me out... I've been fighting this since I was a little kid. I once got caught (mid-throw) tossing my vegetables behind the refrigerator while my mom was cleaning the dishes.

    I've really tried to make a change though, and recently, I've slowly snuck some into a few dishes. Onions or peppers diced up and put in an omelette or fajita... and even a few bites of some pieces of spinach in a salad.

    I do consume vast quantities of Frank's Red Hot though (about a gallon every 2 months), and I will probably use this as a dressing once I actually do eat veggies.

    Doing CrossFit has definitely made me much more aware of how crappy I used to eat. The community is just very health conscious, and this rubbed off onto me. Instead of veggies, I used to fill in the gap with processed foods. Now, I have nuts instead. It's a step in the right direction, but I'm not done yet.

    Reminders like this are always needed though, so keep them coming!

  2. I tend to stick to the same veggies: mixed greens salad, broccoli, asparagus and spinach. For these veggies (except for the salad) I tend to buy all frozen because it's usually cheaper and easier for me. I don't always eat them right away and they end up spoiling.

    Lately, I've been trying to branch out and add in some stuff I don't usually have or have never tried before, and so far everything I've experimented with has been good.