Thursday, January 14, 2010

EAT YOUR VEGGIES!!!

Since I keep hearing everyone lament about veggies, I'm going to volunteer some veggie tips. No, it won't magically make y'all love veggies, but might give you some ideas and some ways to make your veggies more palatable while you're readjusting your tastebuds . . .

1) Dip--everything's better with dip right? So, take some plain yogurt, mix it with cottage cheese and add a packet of ranch dressing mix (just the powder that you normally mix with some ridiculous amount of mayo or sour cream). Dip in! Yum--lowfat, protein, and veggies.

2) Toss the canned vegetables. They are not only packed with salt, they are also mushy and flavorless. Invest instead in high quality frozen vegetables. I buy the enormous bag of broccoli florets and whole green beans at Costco. The broccoli is great because it's just the florets instead of the pieces/parts that my kids won't eat. They are very fresh-frozen and inside the big bag are smaller sealed bags for continued freshness. The beans are fantastic. My kids are green bean snobs--they won't eat canned or even frozen cut beans. They like the whole, long ones--just like they come from the garden. And the Costco ones are also very freshly frozen, so it's like they are fresh picked. My kids like to dip them in soy sauce or ranch like french fries (or the veggie dip above.)

3) To cook fresh or frozen veggies, the most important thing to remember is DO NOT OVERCOOK. I truly believe the reason why so many of our generation don't like vegetables is because we grew up in a generation of mothers that cooked our vegetables to a lifeless pulp. DON'T pass soggy vegetable hatred on to your children! Teach them to love veggies because you do! Okay, take the fresh or frozen veggies, put them in a pan or microwave safe dish (for frozen--steaming fresh vegetables in the microwave is trickier). Put a small amount of water in the bottom of a pan (better yet, use a steam basket if you have one). Dash a little salt over the veggies and a splash of olive oil, cover and heat. Microwaving frozen veggies takes 2-4 minutes depending on how many you do (stop and stir every couple of minutes to be sure not to overcook), fresh take longer. They are done when they are Bright Green and still crisp. Remove immediately from heat and drain the water. The salt and oil flavor cook into the veggies this way and you need much less of them to bring out the flavor--you shouldn't even need to put salt or butter on your table.

4) Special options. My kids favorite green beans--chop some garlic, toss in a frying pan with a little olive oil. When they are just barely starting to brown, toss in a bunch of whole green beans (fresh or frozen), stir the beans a little bit to fry just a bit. Add a very small amount of water, turn down heat and cover with a lid, let the beans steam for a couple of minutes until they are bright green. Turn off the heat and splash with soy sauce (I like using medium sweet soy sauce available at Asian food stores--it's like a slightly thick soy syrup, go easy on it, but it's a nice touch--good for kid's bean dipping too). Serve hot.

5) Veggies like beans and broccoli that are hard to digest or tough to eat raw can be steamed as in #3 above, then plunged in cold water to stop the cooking and chill, then kept on hand to dip in ranch dip (#1 above). Chop a bunch of dipping veggies early in the week, keep them in a big ziploc and you have veggies available all week. Try sweet bell peppers, cucumber slices, pea pods, blanched beans, raw or blanched broccoli and of course carrots and celery.

6) Salad. Toss the iceberg. Buy a good romaine, red or green leaf, or even baby spinach--or better yet, all of the above. Or try a bag of mixed greens. Now, try this--indulge me and try it, even if you think it sounds awful. Take the greens (washed and dried of course) and toss with a little olive oil and sprinkled with some salt--nothing else. Toss it well, so that the leaves all get a bit of oil and salt (don't put too much in, just mix well). Now try it--and notice how lettuce actually has a flavor--a nice one at that. Notice how each type of lettuce tastes differently--not just the texture, but the flavor. Next time, try oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon and do the same thing. Only after you've begun to notice and appreciate the flavors of lettuce, try oil an da basalmic vinagar (it's a bit strong and tends to overpower the lettuce if you're not careful). Hopefully this experiment will give you a new appreciation of salad. Then of course you can go back to the good ol' american way of putting everying but the kitchen sink on your salad (like I still do at the salad bar) but you'll hopefully find much less need for a lot of dressing and you'll begin to appreciate the individual vegetable flavors more.

That's it for now, as I think of more veggie tips, I'll post again. That is, if y'all find this helpful. If it's just annoying and you'll never like veggies regardless, tell me and I'll keep my trap shut (unlikely, but I'll try).

3 comments:

  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I'll take any and all hints you have. Teach me the best way to roast veggies, too. (All the recipes I found online cooked them way too long.)

    I know we had a veggie with every meal growing up, but for the life of me I don't know how to cook any way but steaming 'em. Maybe my mom opened a can and that's what we ate -- I don't remember, I just remember not liking them and knowing I need to work on it so my kids will. I'm trying some of your ideas asap! :)

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  2. Great suggestions!

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  3. Hi, I am still here and reading. I am finally getting back on board and have lost ten pounds. Doing the TheDailyPlate.com. I can't do the contest right now because my life is too crazy, but I am sticking to my calorie count and trying again. Hopefully I can let you all know when I lose a serious amount and have pics that you can post. Keep fighting the good fight and I will check in now and then! Oh, couldn't get financing for gastric bypass, so back to the good old fashioned way!

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