Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Eating vegetables like there is a tomorrow

We've all been at those gathering of friends and family. The ones with the yummy food. The ooey gooey casseroles, the creamy dreamy concoctions, the to-die-for desserts. And of course the salad. A party would not be complete without a big green salad served with a variety of bottled dressings. So after we pile on the ooey gooey creamy dreamy to-die-for stuff, we put on the obligatory plop of green salad with the generous plopping of store bought dressing and say, There! I've had my vegetables! Where's the dessert table?

This spring I've been making a conscious effort to eat more vegetables and fruit. Not an obligatory plop here and there, but giant platefuls and bowlfuls and blenderfuls and glassfuls. All day, everyday, every meal. It's been a lot of work to purchase, wash, peel. chop, prepare and clean up all the  produce, but I'm feeling the good effects. I've given up my chocolate habit, a miracle in itself! We average one tea bag of caffeine a day between the two of us, and my energy level is still up. And I started running. More like plodding and most of it is in the backyard, but the dog thinks I'm cool and I'm increasing my time and distance. With all these fruits and veggies in our diet, on our grocery bill and in our kitchen, it's on my mind a lot. So from mind to blog, here has been the process.

  • Find a place to buy fruits and vegetables. Sounds like a no-brainer, but stuff at Trader Joe's and Raley's starts to add up on the grocery bill. I found a great little produce place called Jesse's Farmers Market on the corner of Morse and Arden in Sacramento. Look for a European market, or Russian store or Asian market where produce is cheaper. Organic is the best of course and I should be going to one of the many farmers markets around town, but I like to shop on my time schedule. I've been hitting stores for produce about 3 or 4 times a week. 
  • Buy what you like and what you'll eat. Being hip and cool is great, but if you hate kale and love spinach, say kale no and buy the spinach. If you see a new fruit or veggie, try it, google a recipe and maybe you'll love it. If not, at least you tried and then just go back to what you like. 
  • Buy in season and local if you can, it will taste better. When you're gorging on stone fruit in summer and oranges in winter, your body will be happy and figure out where to put all that goodness. Some produce travels better than others, but nothing says waste of money like a fruit or veggie that was picked unripe then traveled halfway around the world just to sit uneaten in your home, eating up your wallet.
  • Buy real produce. Sometimes a week is so busy and hectic that the pre-shredded, pre-washed, pre-packaged, pre-everythinged items get us through. But if it feels wrong taking apples out of those plastic coffins from Costco, don't buy them and do without apples until you can buy them in a better package, their own skin.
  • Don't forget the frozen produce. Often cheaper and better tasting, if it was grown on your own continent, it will be more "local" than something "fresh" that arrived on a plane. And a stash of frozen bananas makes a terrific ice cream when thrown in the blender with some berries. 
  • Make stuff with what you bought. Simple things like a tomato, cucumber, red onion and dill salad with vinegar. Smoothies for breakfast. Simple roasted vegetables. No need to impress, it's just family. Big fruit salads are so great in summer, soups in winter. If it tastes gross, then you learned what not to cook. If it tastes great, serve it to company. If it tastes just OK, eat it until it's gone and then make the thing that tasted great again. Don't buy anymore produce until you've used up most of what you have. It's a game and you and your family are the winners.
Adding more fruits and veggies to our diet has boiled down to these simple goals; buy them, prep them, eat them and then buy more. My body is happy from my head tomatoes!

Buy what you like and will eat.

Buy more!

Make stuff up.
Asian salad with a nut butter, soy sauce, Braggs, ginger, citrus dressing with almonds.

Make more stuff up.
Kale, celery, tomato, red onion, dill, Braggs, balsamic, maple syrup and toasted pistachio salad. 

Make smoothies!
I love arugula in them now, with pineapple, blueberries, bananas and spinach.
I made one this morning with stone fruits, Rice Dream, banana, spinach and mint. Wow good.

And begin the process all over again.