Count your veggies

 I was surfing the internet yesterday when I came across a shocking statistic. According to a 2003 article in the Journal of Pediatric Healthcare, “16% of all children’s diets meet none of the Food Guide Pyramid guidelines, and only 1% of children meet all of its recommendation”. You might be thinking, as I was, that this stat is 10 years old. Surely with all of the campaigns, research, and information out there on healthy eating, this must have improved. Well, sadly, according to studies published in ABC News in March of this year, “We found that there was no trend for increased fruit and vegetable consumption over time,”. “Only 11 percent of U.S. adults meet the guidelines for both fruits and vegetables.” and even worse, “Casagrande’s team also found that 62 percent of the study participants didn’t eat any fruit daily, and 25 percent didn’t eat vegetables daily.  Overall, there was no improvement in Americans’ fruit consumption, and there was a small decrease in vegetable intake during the study period.” Meanwhile, even the CDC recognizes that: 

  • “Healthy diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

  • Fruits and vegetables also provide essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, and other substances that are important for good health.”

I will admit, despite all of the research, eating “healthy” can be quite confusing. Are eggs good for us or not? What about meat? And then, of course how are the animals fed? Is it organic? The truth is though organic vegetables are about the only thing that everyone can agree are healthy. Also, it seems that nearly everyone is on a diet and vegetables (fruits too but slightly less so because of the sugar) are a dieters best friend. My Aunt and my Mom are doing Weight Watchers and on their plan you are able to eat 5 cups of vegetables and fruits for free (meaning they don’t count towards your daily point goal) So, why aren’t we eating more? 

I think part of the problem is that we live in a fast paced society. Buying and preparing vegetables and fruits can take some thought and planning. I also think that people don’t realize that they are eating so few. I make it a habit everyday to count how many vegetables I’ve eaten that day. Sometimes I count my fruits too but I don’t have to think about that as much. I consider it a good day when I’ve eaten more than 5 different kinds of vegetables. I don’t worry about serving sizes. I just like to make sure I eat a variety. The same goes for Brooks. I’m really happy when I’m eaten (or fed him) so many veggies that I lose count.  

I know that since I chose to stay home with Brooks I have more time than a working mother but really a few hours in the kitchen on a Sunday is enough time to prep meals for the week. Generally, I’ll spend one day and I’ll make a variety of foods. This past Monday, I stemmed broccoli and cauliflower, make home-made veggie stock (which also means I cooked veggies that Brooks can eat), I make homemade applesauce as well as sweet potato crackers (recipe for these will appear in my next post). I don’t always know what I’m going to do with all of these veggies when I cook them but I’ll put some in the fridge and then freeze the rest for future use. 

Pre-cooked veggies are in glass containers on the top and second shelf

 

This morning I made scrambled eggs with spinach, mushroom, and a little left over broccoli (I added shredded cheese for flavor) as well as a smoothie with spinach, mango, raspberries, and coconut water.  Brooks loves eggs so it’s a nice way to sneak in some veggies. He also loves drinking out of a straw like a big boy so he had some of my smoothie as well as some halved blueberries. So that means so far this morning we’ve both had 3 veggies and 3 fruits. Considering it’s not quite 10 am I think we’re off to a good start.  

Some other ideas to increase your veggie intake: 

– Make vegetable soup

– Add already cooked veggies to quinoa for an easy lunch or dinner

– Make smoothies! Start with a green- (I use spinach or kale) and add whatever fresh or frozen fruits you have on hand 

– Instead of meat try a veggie sub at Subway

– Add a salad to your meal

– Instead of pasta try spaghetti squash 

– Swap out your next burger for a portabella mushroom  

During my research I came across the Diet for Autism by Julie Matthews. The diet is intended to clear out toxins which I think all of us (especially our children) can benefit from. Below are some of the “Nutrient-Dense foods” that she recommends. You can read the whole article if you click here.

NUTRIENT-DENSE FOODS:

 Beta carotene and Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, winter squash, pumpkin, cantaloupe, mango, kale, collard greens, spinach, broccoli, cod liver oil, butter/ghee, liver and egg yolk.

 Vitamin C: Sweet potato, winter squash, broccoli and leafy greens.  Vitamin B6: Sunflower seeds, pistachios, walnuts, lentils,

grains and beans, rice bran and blackstrap molasses.

 Vitamin B12: Liver, eggs, fish, lamb and beef.

 Folic acid: Beans, rice germ, liver, asparagus, broccoli and bananas.

 Omega 3: Fish/cod liver oil, beef, lamb, egg yolk, butter/ ghee, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and algae-based DHA (neuromins supplement).

 Iron: Blackstrap molasses, liver, pumpkin seeds and duck egg.

 Zinc: Pumpkin seeds, nuts, legumes, ginger and oats.

 Magnesium: Sweet potato, winter squash, broccoli, leafy greens, seaweed, nettles, whole grains, nuts and legumes.

 Calcium: Broccoli, leafy greens, winter squash, seaweed, nettles and nuts.

So, I challenge you to count your veggies! Cheers to good health.  

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