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Add Veggie Power to Your Meal

harvest-vegetables

As a young girl, I spent three years in Ipswich, England, with my family while my father served our country – proudly, I might add – as a member of the Air Force. I can to this day recall many memories from my time spent across the “big water,” and one of the fondest images that remains fresh in my mind was spending time in a vegetable garden picking Brussel sprouts. For those of you who have never tried a “Brussel,” think of it visually as a small – no… tiny – cabbage. It has the sweetest flavor (for a veggie) and is, in fact, very good for you.

I think that’s when I fell in love with the garden… and vegetables. It has something to do with actually getting in there and picking the produce and smelling the dirt.

Yes, I am a true country girl at heart, but if you’re not, don’t worry; today I’m going to take you on a journey “beyond the vegetable." This will be a trip for some that may last a lifetime, if we are lucky. I am going to encourage you to look at a new way of introducing your family to our friend, the veggie.

My mother was big on preparing a balanced meal – she was right on target with the “pyramid” concept. As I recall, every meal contained a meat, starch, veggie, bread, and on occasion, desert.

I’m not the cook in my home, but we strive to “offer” variety to the kids every day, without hanging the restaurant shingle outside. I embrace the “offer concept” as the key to encouraging our families to consume more vegetables and healthier food overall.

Most children, when given an option, will lean toward the healthy path over time. Our charge is to get them to even consider a vegetable as an option. I can’t tell you how many times I have had mothers approach me after a speaking session on health and nutrition and say, “Linda, I’d love for my kids to eat more vegetables and fruit, but they won’t!” My question is always the same: “Who buys the food?”

I don’t mean to sound pushy, but when it comes to making good choices for a healthy lifestyle, our children learn from example. We can say, “You need to do better and eat the right things,” but until we are walking the walk ourselves, it won’t happen.

So, let me suggest an option you may not have considered. Take a look at the chart I have provided below, and taking it one vegetable (there are many more out there) at a time, encourage your family to try all of them. As a matter of fact, if you have younger children, let each one choose which veggie to try and how they would like it prepared. There is such a variety of ways all of our food can be “offered” to our families, and with vegetables there are more than most.

According to the new MyPyramid Food Guide, we should consume 3-5 vegetable servings per day. There is such a variety of vegetables to choose from. Just keep in mind the following for what is considered a serving size: 1 medium sized vegetable; 3/4 cup vegetable juice; 1/2 cup for chopped, raw, or cooked; and 1 cup for the green leafy raw choices.

The following food grid provides nutritional information about vegetables

Grams = gr. Milligrams = mg.

      gr. gr. gr. mg. mg. gr. gr.
 

Serving

Calories

Protein

Carbs

Fiber

Sodium

Cholesterol

Unsat. fat

Sat. fat

Lettuce

1cup

10

0.7

2.2

0.4

7

0

0.1

0.1

Cucumber

1 cup

14

0.6

3.0

0.6

2

0

0.1

0.0

Cabbage

1 cup

16

0.8

2.8

0.6

12

0

0.1

0.0

Carrots

1 cup

18

1.0

11.0

1.0

38

0

0.1

0.3

Celery

1 cup

18

0.8

4.4

0.8

106

0

0.1

0.0

Mushrooms

1 cup

18

1.5

3.0

0.5

2

0

0.1

0.1

Broccoli

1 cup

24

2.6

4.6

0.9

24

0

0.2

0.0

Cauliflower

1 cup

24

2.0

4.9

0,8

14

0

0.1

0.0

Squash

1 cup

25

1.4

5.5

0.8

1

0

0.1

0.1

Green Beans

1 cup

34

2.0

7.9

1.2

6

0

0.1

0.0

Tomato

1 cup

47

2.1

10.3

1.1

20

0

0.3

0.1

Onions

1 cup

54

1.9

11.7

0.7

4

0

0.1

0.1

Boiled Potato

1 cup

114

3.2

25.7

0.7

5

0

0.7

0.0

Corn

1 cup

132

5.0

29.0

1.0

23

0

1.4

0.3

Avocado

1/2

162

2.0

7.4

2.1

11

0

11.6

2.5

Baked Potato     

1 large

220

4.0

32.8

1.2

6

0

0.1

0.1

Before you go crazy thinking the only way you could possibly get your kids, young and old, to eat all the vegetables is by covering them in melted cheese… stop! Every palette will acquire a liking for certain vegetables over time, as we age and as we try new things. But let me share what happens in most households: the only vegetable that is served is what mom or dad likes and grew up with, or it’s macaroni ‘n’ cheese. Hey, macaroni ‘n’ cheese isn’t a vegetable!

If you would give it a try for a month and offer your family a variety of vegetables, I believe you will be surprised with the outcome. And if your kids are old enough, let them figure out how to prepare the vegetable, maybe even do a once a week veggies-only meal – you may grow to like it.

If you are looking for natural sources of fiber in a user friendly form, not the stir in kind, vegetables can be your friend. Your colon needs the soluble and un-soluble fiber found in veggies to keep it working properly. The bloodstream benefits from the soluble fiber as it attaches to the fat and escorts it out the body.

I would love to hear about the choices you and your family have made, and if you come up with some innovative ways to prepare your vegetables, send them to me and I may post them here or on my Web site. Happy eating!

NOTE: Before beginning any new fitness program that requires a change in diet or exercise, it is recommended that you consult your physician for input. This informational series is not intended for medical or nutritional claims dependent on substantial clinical studies and FDA approval, and should not be construed as a claim for cure, treatment, or prevention of any disease.  It is intended solely for information and educational purposes. Linda is not a physician or expert in the medical field. She has been involved in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for numerous years. The information given in these sessions have been derived from  books and materials brought together over the years from many sources, including her personal life experiences.

 

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