Back to Basics: Nutrition Rule #6

Rule #6: Eat Your Vegetables.

This is often, it seems, the hardest thing for people to do; but, it needs to be done.

Why:

-Vegetables provide an important source of complex carbohydrates that fill you up and keep you full, with very few calories.

-The fiber content in vegetables helps stabilize blood sugar, helping to protect you from insulin resistance and diabetes.

-The fiber also keep the digestive system moving along, and can protect against some cancers.

-Vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are important for your immune system, skin, brain, and pretty much every other part of your body.

-Many vegetables contain protein. Now, there’s no actual protein shortage here in the US, but it does mean veggies are a good stand-in for meat proteins if quality meats aren’t available or too expensive.

How:

No one wants to eat a gray, floppy mess on a plate. Vegetables can and should be appetizing, and the most important thing to do is to learn how to cook them well. Choose fresh, crisp vegetables with bright colors, and mix them up.

-Roast. I don’t think I’ve met a vegetable that doesn’t roast well, even leafy greens. And, it’s easy: just toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper (add other spices if you want), lay in single layer on a cookie sheet or baking pan, and put into a hot oven (I usually use about 375o F) until done. Roasting caramelizes a vegetable’s sugar, rendering it yummy, and retaining most of the nutrients!

-Blanch. This is good for broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, edamame, etc. Plunge into boiling water for just a minute or two, then plunge into cold water. Eat cold as a salad, or as munchies.

-Kabob & grill. Cut into kebab-size pieces, toss with olive oil and teriyaki sauce if you like, skewer, and grill.

There are many other ways to do veggies; raw, sauteed, seared, ribboned instead of noodles, etc. Just don’t boil them, and don’t over steam. Don’t buy them pre-cooked and smothered in sauce, either. Fresh, whole, vegetables, and cook them at home.

.-Start by adding a vegetable to each dinner, either as side dish or incorporated into the main dish, or as a dinner salad.  Once you’ve mastered that, add them to lunches, and even breakfasts (eggs on a bed of tomatoes and wilted spinach is divine!).

The general rule is you can eat as many vegetable as you want (dietary restrictions such as diabetes notwithstanding). Even Weight Watchers is giving most of them zero points now. The exception to this is corn, which is technically not a vegetable except under the broadest definition. It’s a grain, and contains a lot of starch and sugar, so it needs to be eaten in moderation.

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4 responses to “Back to Basics: Nutrition Rule #6

  • Stacie

    I don’t know much about WW points, but I would guess that white or red potatoes aren’t point free. (But I don’t know.) My reasoning for this is that white/red potatoes are so starchy, they should be classified in the bread group.

    I’d also add that sometimes frozen veggies are more nutritious than fresh. If you are having problems getting truly fresh produce, especially in the wintertime, frozen is a good alternative. Most veggies are frozen within a few hours of harvest, but who knows how long fresh veggies have been on a transit truck from the farm, sat in the warehouse, then sitting on the produce shelves at the market. I’ve had good success roasting frozen veggies too. The texture is a bit different than fresh, but the vitamin content is higher than if you’re buying an off-season veggie.

  • shwankie

    Stacie, good point about the frozen veggies. We use them all the time (either our own frozen, or purchased). The fresh vegetable selection in our area is appalling at anytime of the year, so we often don’t even bother trying!

    And, thanks for the reminder on potatoes. I don’t really think of them, because we don’t consider them vegetables (nutritionally, they’re not considered a vegetable, they’re considered a starch); but, I should remember that many people do put them in the “veggie” realm! The good news is that even they contain great nutrients when eaten whole and cooked properly; but, no, I am pretty sure they aren’t free points for WW, either!

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