For a long time, I bought into the belief that while vegetables were important, they didn’t add much nutritional or energetic value to my daily diet. During college and the beginning years of my career, I was more focused on getting a quality lean protein and complex carb with a side of veggies. This was what was taught to me by my personal trainer and the Body for Life book that I followed in my college years. My routine was pretty set – wake up early, workout, eat my 5-6 mini meals a day and go to bed – repeat. Deep down, I knew that I was doing something wrong. Well, I take that back. I thought that there was something wrong with me. I thought that I was doing everything right. I was exercising, eating balanced meals and not drinking alcohol. But…..I was always EXHAUSTED. I would be sitting at my desk at 2 in the afternoon and about to fall asleep. I just didn’t understand it. Why was I so tired? Simple answer…
I wasn’t getting enough veggies in my diet.
Vegetables are the key to lasting energy. There are so many minerals and vitamins and nutrients that we simply take for granted. There is so much life force and abundant energy locked into these beautiful, convenient packages. Once you add more veggies and nourishment to your diet, your energy levels will sky rocket. Think of veggies as nature’s red bull, without the nasty aftertaste. Here are some tips that I have discovered over the years to get more veggies into my diet that I am hoping will inspire some of you to add more volume in.
1. When filling up your plate for a meal, divide the plate in half and fill that half with greens and non-starchy vegetables. The other half can be a combination of protein and starchy vegetables and/or whole grains (if tolerated).
2. Instead of pasta, try steaming a head of cauliflower or organic mixed Normandy vegetable blend (found at Costco – so good!) to go with your favorite homemade sauce.
3. Use a combination of greens (arugula, spinach, spring greens etc.) as a base for your next meal. (Remember – this is about adding in – not necessarily replacing).
4. Get a steamer basket! This is the easiest way to add in some extra veggies to your meal. You can purchase great quality frozen organic veggies from places like Trader Joe’s and Costco. You take a couple of cups per person out of the bag and put them in the steamer basket. Steam for about 8 minutes (depending on the size of the vegetable). Mix with some good quality olive oil and salt and you are good to go!
5. Make a salad a meal. Make a BIG salad with about 5 key ingredients. Keep it simple. Make sure to add good quality fats to the salad so that it will keep you satiated. Good examples include feta cheese, avocado, buffalo mozzarella, (preferably soaked and sprouted) nuts, or organic hard salami.
6. Make a crudité plate! These are so simple and so delicious! When I went to Italy on a knitting trip, one of my favorite things to order was a plate with fresh fennel, carrots, celery, jicama and apples. They would serve it with amazing olive oil (we were in Tuscany after all) and some pink Himalayan salt. You would simply dip the veggie into the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. So. Freaking. Good.
7. Be adventurous! Challenge yourself each week to choose two new vegetables to incorporate into your daily cuisine. We are coming up on farmer’s market season (my fave) and also there are many CSA’s that have sign-ups going on right now.
This week, I challenge you to use the ways above to add more veggies to your plate. Remember to chew thoroughly, truly savor the unique tastes and textures and always eat with a good quality fat. Vegetables are chock full of fat soluble vitamins which means that for your body to full assimilate them, they need to be combined with a fat for maximum absorption (nutritional study can be found here.)
I couldn’t resist sharing the sketch below with you all. I am taking a Draw it Like it’s Hot class (workshop on drawing food) and I am having way too much fun. I am by no means an artist but I am learning that I do like to sketch because you get to COLOR it afterwards! For those of you who know me know that I adore to get my color grove on. Hope you like it! This is called a “foodle” – Food + Doodle = foodle. Cute, eh? 😉
Until next week,