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When More is More

January 7th, 2012 - By Therese Madden




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Loading up your plate with vegetables is a good thing, no skimping here! Acclaimed vegan Chef Rich Landau of Vedge Restaurant says no need to be in a rut. There are lots of ways to prepare vegetables so we can easily get those recommended daily servings.

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We hear it, we know it, “it’s important to eat your vegetables.” The Beach Boys even have a song about how much fun it can be to eat your vegetables. “I’m gonna be ’round my vegetables, I’m gonna chow down my vegetables, I love you most of all my favorite vegetables.”

So what gives? Why aren’t people getting the recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day? Maybe people forgot why fruits and vegetables are so darn important. I went to Registered Dietician Andrea Spivack of Penn Medicine for a simple reminder of why we should eat vegetables. “They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, disease fighting phytochemicals, which can help protect us from free radicals.”

Disease fighting phytochemicals! “This may help reduce risk of chronic medical conditions, for example heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.” Vegetables can also help in weight loss, “if you think about the texture of these foods they are very crunchy and they give the stomach a chance to register that food’s been eaten. So, these foods may actually displace room for higher calorie less healthful snacks.” If vegetables can do all that, imagine, if there were a pill sold on T.V. people would be paying top dollar for it.

Chef Rich Landau(left) and Kate Jacoby(right)

And here’s where the fun begins, figuring out how to prepare and enjoy vegetables. “What happens when I don’t like a vegetable, I find a way to cook it so I can like it.”

That’s Rich Landau, Chef at Vedge Restaurant in Philadelphia. He’s very enthusiastic about vegetables, even ones other people often dismiss as kind of bland, like cauliflower. “I love cauliflower, just because it is so good raw its so good cooked, so good half cooked, pickled in salad, hot whipped anything you want to do cauliflower is amazing.” It’s also a really good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. “One of my favorites is to roast it and then give it a quick pulse in food process, or not so it gets puréed. So, it becomes kind of like rice, it takes on a rice like texture. Put that back into sauté pan with veggie stock and olive oil and you have cauliflower risotto that will blow your mind.”

Some people add cauliflower to their mashed potatoes, substituting half the starchy potatoes for vitamin C rich cauliflower. For someone looking for value why not give the humble turnip another chance? You can roast the root and sauté the leaves, two vegetables in one. Landau is also a fan of the turnip green. “They are delicious, they taste like spinach, a cross maybe between spinach and Swiss chard. But, turnip greens are probably one of the most underrated greens and people don’t like greens cause stringy and stringent and taste healthy, god forbid, but these turnip greens are sweet and just delicious. So, if you love spinach or Swiss chard try turnip greens, they are just amazing, they have to be really fresh though.”

So how’s this for a New Year’s Resolution: have fun, try new things, and eat more. Vegetables that is.

MORE FROM FIT:
Here is a list provided by University of Pennsylvania Health System that has information for adding vegetables into your diet.

SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDING VEGETABLES AND FRUITS TO YOUR DIET

  • Try one new fruit or vegetable each week.
  • Double normal serving sizes for vegetables.
  • Eat fruit with hot or cold cereal (not just bananas but also apples, grapes, berries, peaches and mandarin oranges). Add unsweetened dried fruits to cereals.
  • Add fruit to milk or soy milk for a healthy shake.
  • Add fruit to cottage cheese or yogurt for a snack.
  • Have all-vegetable based meals (e.g. vegetable chili, salads, or stew).
  • Try vegetable or bean soup.
  • Eat fruit as a snack, be sure to limit portions.
  • Eat dried fruit instead of candy.
  • Drink fruit or vegetable juice instead of soft drinks, choose 100% unsweetened juices, but limit portions.
  • Have fruit salad for dessert (layer a fruit parfait with yogurt or add a few chocolate shavings or nuts to a bowl of fruit).
  • Have baked fruit for dessert (e.g… apples, peaches, pears or bananas).
  • Top a baked potato or pasta with steamed vegetables.
  • Take raw vegetable platters to parties (include raw sweet potato sticks, asparagus, green beans, jicama, red pepper rings, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, in addition to the more common carrot and celery sticks).
  • Add vegetables to favorite entrees (e.g. tacos, spaghetti, pizza, lasagna, fajitas).
  • Make fruit kabobs (use pineapple, bananas, strawberries).
  • Eat vegetarian meals more often.
  • Eat more international dishes (e.g… Italian pasta primavera, Moroccan stew, Mexican vegetable enchilada, Spanish paella, Oriental stir-frys, Indian curries, Greek vegetable moussaka, Provencal ratatouille).
  • Try veggie burgers topped with lettuce, tomatoes and/or salsa.
  • Try vegetables on the grill, marinate for extra flavor, eat plain or as a sandwich.
  • Salsa can also be used as a dip for vegetables or a topping on baked potato.
  • Frozen fruit, such as grapes and bananas make healthy iced snacks.

Cauliflower dish photo by Flicker user Melissa Robison / CC BY-NC 2.0
Cauliflower Slideshow photo by Flicker user Horia Varlan / CC BY-NC 2.0

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Photo by Flicker user Chiot's Run / CC BY-NC 2.0



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