Day 4: Eat your vegetables
Why eat your vegetables? Because vegetables are you number 1 source of nutrients in the diet.
Not a fan of vegetables? Well keep looking and keep trying different veggies that are prepared in different ways. I dare you to try them all!
It’s ok to stick with your fav’s but make a point to try a new one each week or step outside your comfort zone a bit. Increasing the variety of vegetables will increase your nutrient intake and the spectrum of nutrients that you are intaking. Plants have these cool compounds called phytonutrients which support the immune system in our body. I bet you can name a few: beta- carotene, comes from carrots and other orange/yellow foods and is good for your eye health. Lycopene- comes from tomatoes and is a great cardio protective antioxidant. And there are others.
Examples: Tomato, watermelon, pink grapefruit, red-guava, Strawberries. Benefits- Lycopene is a red carotenoid with powerful antioxidant properties that help with heart heath and may protect against cancer. Red foods are also high in vitamin C
Examples: Apricots, carrots, sweet potato, cantaloupe, peach, squash. Benefits- Beta-cartotene is converted to vitamin A which is an antioxidant essential for skin, bones and teeth.
Examples: Red cabbage, Blueberries, Raspberries, Concord grapes, Plums, Cranberries Benefits: Anthocyanins act like antioxidants to help protect cells from damage, and may help with brain function including cognitive benefits and improved memory.
Examples: Kale, Chard, Broccoli, Spinach, Arugula, Collard greens Benefits: Chlorophyll helps to detoxify the body and provides antioxidants and minerals such as iron and calcium and magnesium.
Want to know more check out this great infographic from Precision Nutrition on vegetables.
Still not convinced about the glory of plants? It’s not about the calories with plants its about the micronutrients. These micronutrients are essential for our health and well-being and the best place to get the majority of these are from plants, aka vegetables. These are going to help keep you healthy, reduce risk of disease and illness and best of all make you feel great. Additionally they not only do they contain the antioxidants and bioflavanoids mentioned above, but they also contain elements like water, fibre which are key to a healthy diet.
How to get started increasing your vegetable intake?
- Identify how many servings of vegetables you are eating currently on a daily basis. For ease, lets say 1 tennis ball = 1 serving.
- Next set a small but achievable goal. Ie increase your intake of vegetables by 1-2 servings per day.
- Keep track using an app, pen and paper or email yourself.
- At the end of 2 weeks, evaluate if you are meeting that goal successfully or not.
- If yes, great, keeping going on that trend.
- If not, figure out why? Are you purchasing veggies in your grocery shopping? Are you pre-washing/pre-cutting? Is this too much work? Buy them washed and chopped already so they are ready to eat. Pack your veggies with your lunch and snacks if applicable. When eating out look for options with the most veggies or ask for extra veggies.
Today’s Recipe: Garlic & Lemon Cauliflower “Rice”
This is especially helpful if you love your carbs and don’t feel complete without a starch at a meal. For some of you this might even help curb your sweet tooth because it will give you the sensation of more starch, but without the calories. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for a carb free diet, cauliflower is a carb after-all and carbs are key for fibre and energy (we’ll learn more about carbs next week), but I find many of us tend to overeat our rice, pasta’s and breads. If that’s you, this might be your alternative.
- 1/2 head of cauliflower, with core/stem removed and washed
- 2 handfuls of de-stemmed kale
- 2 tbsp olive oil or olive oil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 3 cloves fresh garlic (optional)
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Place washed and chopped cauliflower in food processor. (if you don’t have a food processor, you can use a mini blender or get chopping). Pulse for 5-10s until everything is the size/texture of couscous.
- Remove cauliflower from the food processor and add de-stemmed kale to food processor and pulse for 5-10s until the kale is full processed.
- In a bowl stir in the cauliflower and kale together along with the olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings.
Oven Cooking – for a roasted taste, spread thinly on a baking sheet and back at 425 F for 20-25minutes. Stirring part way through.
Stove top Cooking– if you are in a rush put the cauliflower mixture in non stick skillet or frying pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes stirring frequently.
Alternate versions (you can get as creative as you want)
Cilantro & Lime Cauliflower Rice
-Sub out the garlic and lemon, and add: 1 cup finely chopped cilantro and juice of 1-2 limes
Mexican Fried Cauliflower Rice
-Sub out the kale (or keep it if you want)
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1/2 spanish onion finely chopped
- 4-5 cherry tomatoes sliced