Eat Your Veggies!

I used to absolutely HATE vegetables, unless they were pickles. I could literally eat a whole jar.  You couldn’t get me to expand the horizons of my taste buds.  BUT, I had a moment in this journey where I wanted results.  What I was doing was not working. 

After I cleaned up my eating habits, I slowly started adding new healthy foods to my diet.  It’s been absolutely CRAZY because I’m eating all kinds of things I did not eat before.   Spaghetti squash, sweet bell peppers, mushrooms!  It’s insane.  And, I’m kinda proud. Joining a few clean-eating groups made me hold myself accountable.  I made sure I ate what was on the “menu.”  It was kind of like a “well everyone else is doing it” sort of thing, until I started feeling the changes going on inside my body.  More energy.  Cravings went down.  My taste changed.  I was more regular. (If I’m being completely honest…)  Horizons expanded.

Now I love all of those vegetables!  My taste is MUCH different, where I actually crave them.  

So that brings me to this topic.  And I want to preface this by saying that I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or whatever.  I don’t offer medical advice.  I simply share my story and pass on things that have helped me along the way.  It’s my journey and I’m letting you ride shotgun.

I used to have a hard time making a colorful plate.  “Eating the rainbow” was something that seemed impossible, given my experience and long line of horrible eating habits.  I owned a pass on the struggle bus.  Maybe I had one color a day, and the best I could do was green.  Broccoli, green beans, spinach, lettuce…that was it.  And they were cooked to the point of having no nutrients left.  Cheese on the broccoli, green beans cooked in a little bacon fat, spinach boiled in soups, and lettuce.

It took me a while to open my eyes and face the facts: there is a purpose to mixing it up in the kitchen and on my plate.  I just didn’t want to because 
A) It was intimidating and I didn’t know how to prepare certain veggies  
B) I didn’t want to give up the way of eating that made me feel happy (not necessarily good)
C) It was too much work.

Immersing yourself in a community of healthy nuts (a term of endearment, I promise) is a great way to learn lots of things.  And at some point, I may have been turned. [wicked smile]  I can’t survive off of grilled chicken and raw broccoli. (Though two summers ago I thought it was possible)

The reason you want to eat the rainbow, so to speak, is because each vegetable (this is about vegetables after all) has unique properties and benefits to your health and nutrition.  So if I’m only eating broccoli, I’m only getting the benefits from broccoli.  That’s not going to work.  My body needs a variety of veggies for their minerals and nutrients.  Mind blown!  Can I just say I’m a late bloomer?  

Some keys to eating more veggies:
1)  Start small, with one or two.  Pick a recipe or two to make that doesn’t completely shock your taste buds, and try it out that way. 
2)  Cook your veggies no further than al dente. This means no boiling your broccoli into mushy submission.
3)  Get funky with some kitchen gadgets.  Try out a zoodle tool that makes “noodles” out of zucchini.  Or you can try to use a grater to shred carrots. (Works amazingly well for meal prep)
4)  Take it down a notch in size.  Sometimes I don’t want to eat a whole grape tomato.  I cut it in half.  And like I mentioned before, use a grater to shred carrots.  Cut down the size of your typical florets, and make the cauliflower and broccoli smaller.  
5)  Throw some veggies in your smoothie or shake.  I like to add spinach, I’ve done cauliflower (surprisingly was not bad!), and kale.
6)  Last resort, and I say this because you’re not consuming the whole vegetable…juice it.  You can really juice about anything.  But there are some drawbacks to doing this.  You’re discarding most of the vegetable, and drinking the juice that is produced in the end of the juicing process.  The whole vegetable is valuable in your diet, not just the juice.  Just something to think about. 


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