I have a friend with health problems who has a restricted diet. She can’t have dairy or refined carbs; she can have very little meat and fewer whole grains. Her diet consists largely of vegetables supplemented with seeds and nuts, healthy fats, and fruits. In honor of her, I’ve been trying to eat a more plant-based diet (as opposed to carb-based. I still eat meat; I love meat).
I think vegetables are the “miracle food,” you know, the one people always tout as the weight loss miracle, the ultimate in healthy. In reality, it’s not a single food or even a mystery: it’s vegetables. It’s the least popular food group but arguable the most important. In Defense of Food states that there’s a certain magic in whole foods, which is why taking a supplement with all the vitamins and minerals you need isn’t the same as eating a stalk of broccoli or a cup of spinach.
Getting Veggies In:
On the other hand, getting in enough vegetables can be difficult. Unless, that is, you’re okay with eating a handful of spinach (which I’ve done before and is not fun). So here are a few ideas to do just that:
- Pasta: Instead of noodles, try zoodles (zucchini noodles). I once made this mushroom lasagna with zucchini noodles that was amazing. If that’s too out there for you, then add some minced spinach to your pasta dish. It doesn’t have to be a lot, and it doesn’t affect the taste. It just gives you more of the good stuff.
- Pizza: I know I’m treading on sacred territory here, but have you ever tried cauliflower crust? I have it on good authority (mine) that cauliflower crust does not taste at all like cauliflower. You add in eggs, cheese, and herbs, and it’s magic. Here’s a good recipe for it (make sure to squeeze out all the extra liquid from the cauliflower for best results. Also, egg whites don’t work nearly as well as whole eggs). If this is too much, then at least add some spinach, peppers, mushrooms, anything vegetable-based to your pizza.
- Rice: Cauliflower rice. I know, I know. But this works well enough and it’s a vegetable. Just blend up cauliflower until it has a rice-like consistency, and fry it in a pan once it starts to brown (but before it releases its water).
- Smoothies: Do you like smoothies? Then add a handful of spinach or kale. It might change the smoothie to a greenish color, but otherwise it shouldn’t detract from its deliciousness. The sugars in fresh fruit cover the taste of vegetables nicely.
- Omelets: With all that cheese and meat, a few diced veggies can’t go amiss.
Soup? Add veggies. Beef and gravy? Over spinach instead of (or in addition to) rice. There are ways to add veggies into your diet. Eat a few carrots. Everybody loves carrots, right? Start out with a few vegetables that you like, and then build on that. I’ve always liked the idea of a salad without lettuce, just all the best veggies.
Eating more vegetables has improved my energy levels and, as a result, my general happiness. It’s not a cure for all ails, but I find that the more veggies I eat, the more I want to eat. Sometimes you just need that little boost to your mood that good eating gives.