Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Small Changes

It’s easy to not eat your veggies.. even while eating a lot of foods that are considered “healthy”. For example:  A quick breakfast of peanut butter on whole wheat bread (you’d have a banana but your kid ate the last one yesterday).  Your morning snack is a low fat strawberry yogurt.  For lunch at work, a turkey sandwich that was brought in during a meeting (and a bag of Sun Chips.. more whole grains!).  You had a protein bar before hitting the gym, and then when out with some friends and had sushi for dinner (and were very good and skipped the deep fried things).   Overall, not bad… good a mix of carbs, protein, and not too much fat.   But your fruit and vegetable intake was about ½ a strawberry in your yogurt, a piece of limp iceberg lettuce on your sandwich, the avocado in your California roll, and a piece of seaweed in your miso soup.  Not exactly the recommended 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. 

Fruit and vegetables are key to good health, they are just starting to understand how the micronutrients affect everything from heart health to mental health.   There was an interesting study published last month showing how 2 changes to lifestyle could improve health:  more fruits and veggies, and less TV time.  I’m a big believer in making small changes that improve your diet, not going “on” a diet.    One of the habits I have adopted is including a fruit or vegetable in every meal and every snack. 


Breakfast:  I’m normally a fruit and yogurt and granola, or fruit and cereal person in the morning.  I keep frozen blueberries in the freezer in case I’m out of fresh fruit (zap them for 40 seconds in the microwave to thaw).  If you like eggs, try scrambling with some chopped green onions and baby spinach, or really any vegetables. And add a big scoop of salsa.  

Snacks:  my morning snack usually looks like a 2nd breakfast. Add cottage cheese and fruit to this list.   If I do have peanut butter on toast, I try to get a piece of fruit too. And my latest favorite is a banana chocolate milk

Lunch: Salads are the obvious choice for the veggie rich lunch.   One of the other things I have started doing when I have work lunches is getting the vegetarian option.  It’s not a guarantee to get more vegetables, but it normally helps.   If I have make a sandwich, I always try to load on dark leafy lettuce, avocado, and maybe a tomato.  And a lunch staple when I have good tomatoes:  peanut butter on toast with tomato (it’s really not awful, I learned it from my mom… )   Another option is to have some cut up vegetables, like carrots, celery, or radishes.  Lately, I have been making quick pickles too – hits that crunchy salty / sweet flavor instead of Sun chips! I used a kohlrabi to make my last batch.  See the recipe at the end.  And lunch just doesn’t seem complete without a piece of fruit at the end. 

Afternoon snacks:  I don’t always have an afternoon snack, but when I do, I like something more savory.  Kale chips are a fun option (and if you have clean kale, it only takes 20 minutes or so to make, not much longer than popcorn).  Sometimes I’ll have trail mix, but really there is not enough fruit in that to count.   Apple with cheese is a favorite, apple with peanut butter works too.   Cut up vegetables are a good option too, you can always add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to brighten them up.

Dinner:  Often I start my dinner thoughts with what vegetable I have, then decide what to make (as opposed to starting with the protein).  Hopefully I have provided lots of ideas on vegetable rich ideas for dinners over the years!  Here's my index.

So:  If you just wanted to do 1 thing this summer, I would challenge you to eat some fruit or vegetable with EVERY meal and snack!  Do it for a month, see if you can get some healthy new habits. 

Excerpt from From Al Dente blog:

Vinegar Pickles
Master Recipe from Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan

1 cup water, piping hot from the tap
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
6 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
Fruit or vegetable, sliced thin

1. Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and stir until the sugar dissolves. 
2. Prepare vegetables or fruit and place in a quart container. Pour brine over the fruit or vegetable and refrigerate. You can eat immediately. But they will taste better after they've had time to sit.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Friends and Frittata’s

A couple of weeks ago, a group wonderful friends came to the Coronado “Villa” under the guise of a bookclub field trip. Vy, our humble leader, wrote a truly inspiring blog post on what it means to be friends. For my blog, I’ll just stick to the food! By “planning to not plan” and knowing I would have lots of help in the kitchen, I’ve figured out how to fun with big group at the house, and not feeling like I’m having to “entertain”. I got there a day ahead of time, and stopped at Trader Joes to get some staples (wine, cheese, eggs). In the mode of not planning, I grilled some chicken breasts and made a pot of quinoa – so dinner for me, and options for salads or sandwiches later. The next morning, I picked my friends up at the airport, and we made a couple of detours on the way to the house: first at Point Loma Seafood, then at the Horton Square Farmer’s market.

For our first lunch, I took my Aunt Joyce’s idea of a quinoa and edaname salad that she left as a comment on my post about green salads. It started with a good amount of cooked quinoa, some diced chicken, plus a container of shelled edaname. To that, we added some of the bounty from the farmers market: chopped red bell pepper, cucumber, zucchini, and an avocado. It was dressed with lemon juice (a couple of lemons worth), some olive oil, salt, pepper, and oregano from the herb garden. It all came together in about 5 minutes – 2 of us chopping, others out gathering herbs. A wonderful start!

Dinner was grilled Wahoo (aka Ono), one of my favorite fish to eat. I will definitely be going back to Point Loma Seafood (and not sure why it took 4 of my friends showing up to go try it). Vy made a wonderful asparagus dish. She quickly blanched the asparagus and made a topping of Manchego cheese, garlic, and butter and popped it under the broiler. I’ll do that again! Some boiled potatoes … baby potatoes that were dug that morning … rounded out the meal.

The last day of the trip started with a tour of Glorietta Bay on Stand Up Paddle Boards (SUP). The ride back in to the beach was a bit rough – boat wakes and a stiff breeze made it tough to stay upright (I’m sure at least 2 of my friends likely consider me a big fat liar after saying they probably wouldn’t get wet) and we worked up some good appetites. Fortunately, there was plenty of stuff left from our visit to the farmers market. And lots of egg’s. And I really felt I owed my friends a hot lunch after getting them so wet. So while my shivering friends jumped into hot showers, the rest of us got busy on making a Frittata. Frittata’s are right up there with pasta, stir fry, and pizza’s for using up whatever vegetables, meat, and cheese that might be around – a meal that fits perfectly in my system of not really planning. The bonus of a frittata is that you include some starch – generally pasta or potatoes – which makes it nice and filling, and comforting. Like my friends.


This is more a guideline that a real recipe. Your frittata can be as simple as leftover pasta and eggs, or be used a catch-all for odds and ends of fresh vegetables and leftovers. I have sized this for a 10 – 11 inch skillet, but adjust up or down as needed.

Vegetable Component: Some options I like: onions, peppers, broccoli, zucchini, spinach or other greens, asparagus. You can use left-over steamed or roasted vegetables too. If you are using pasta that is loaded with veggies you don’t need to add more. One to three cups is a good amount.
(the Bookgroup Frittata (BF) included onions, peppers, garlic, and leftover asparagus)

Starch Component: Pasta is my favorite, but potatoes (roasted, boiled or even raw – just need to cook in the pan a while until they are tender), quinoa, or rice. Again 1 – 3 cups depending on what you have, how many you are feeding.
(the BF was a bunch of left-over, multicolored steamed new potatoes, sliced)

Meat: completely optional, leftover chicken, ham, bacon, or sausage all work. (we kept the BF vegetarian)

Egg Component: just whisk a bunch of eggs. I never bother adding milk or cream, just a bit of salt and pepper. Use 8 to 12 eggs. You want enough to just cover the other stuff.
(BF used a dozen. We were hungry)

Cheese Component: Pretty much anything.. Parmesan is traditional, any good melting cheese works, or even goat cheese. Use a small handful,  shredded or in small crumbles.
(BF used Manchego)

Pulling it together:

Warm some olive oil in a 10 or 11 inch non-stick skillet (I would not attempt this without non-stick) over a medium hot flame. Use more oil if you are using potatoes, less if you have pasta that already has a sauce on it. Sauté any fresh vegetables (including potatoes) in oil, then add leftover vegetables, meat, and starch; warm all the way through. If it’s too dry and sticking, add a bit of water.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the beaten eggs. Toss in a handful of cheese. Give a good stir to distribute the eggs with the filling. Let it cook for a while (how long depends on how many eggs, how much stuff), but I thinking its 5 minutes or more. Don’t stir, but you can run a rubber spatula around the egde. Meanwhile, turn your broiler on.

When the eggs are starting to get brown on the bottom (the frittata is sturdy enough you can use plastic spatula to lift the edge to look underneath), its ready to pop into the broiler (the bottom half or more should be cooked). Broil for another 3 to 5 minutes or so, until the top is firm and nicely browned. Remove and keep a hot pad on the handle! Let rest a few minutes (poke to make sure the middle is done), then slide off onto a plate to serve. Good hot or room temperature.

And great with best friends.