Monday, January 10, 2011

Meatless Monday* - The Salad-Hater's Guide to Veg

Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love the carrots.

OK. I don't love carrots. I never have. And I don't like peas either. Or green beans. A sad little pile of random veg on the side of my plate is the worst. But I was taught to eat my vegetables, and that you should have salad with dinner every night. For years, I simply accepted these facts, and used the strategy my mom taught me when I was little: eat your veggies first to "get them out of the way."

Little did I know, I was missing out on a world of veggie goodness. I realized last night, as I was chopping sweet potatoes, onions, jalapenos and red pepper for the beautiful "Red Lentil Thai Chili" from the Post-Punk Kitchen, that my relationship to veggies has changed for the better. And it happened when I realized: hey, I'm adult. I don't have to eat salad!

Sustainable eating means less meat, more of everything else. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. But attempting to eat more sustainably doesn't mean that you are now relegated to rabbit food.

If you think that you're a veggie hater (or live with one), here are a few ways to get more veggies in your diet:

  • Give yourself a pass on the things you really don't like. Within reason. While you shouldn't cross the entire plant spectrum off your shopping list, choose a two or three things that you won't force yourself to eat. For me, it's those dastardly peas and iceberg lettuce.
  • Expand your color palette. I used to work with a woman who said she wouldn't eat anything green - meaning vegetables. Luckily, veggies come in so many other colors! If you have had bad experiences with green vegetables (like the soggy green beans in your elementary school cafeteria... which I *cough, cough* actually kind of like) start experimenting by trying to bring other colors to your plate. I'd recommend starting with orange. Just trust me on this one.
  • Get rid of the veggie sides. Remember what I said about the heap of veg on the side of my plate and how much I dislike that? Well, it turns out that I like almost all vegetables when they are cooked in a soup, stew, pasta sauce, etc. The truth is, you can put more veggies in almost any recipe. Sure, some nutrients get cooked out, but it's better than no nutrients. Just remember that if you add veggies to a recipe, particularly a baked recipe like lasagna, you are also upping the amount of liquid. Adjust any liquid content slightly.
  • Go ethnic. I don't know if Americans invented the plate with the meat, the potatoes or bread, and the cooked vegetable side, but we sure did perfect it. Most ethnic cuisines, however, incorporate healthy and tasty vegetables into main dishes and don't relegate them to sides. It's only their Americanized versions that remove the veggies.
  • Go local. Farmer's markets and co-ops often have an array of interesting vegetables that are seasonal to your area (I know, I know, for those of you in colder climes, the farmer's market might be closed right now). Community-Sponsored Agriculture, or CSA, is another great way to experiment. You pay for a weekly or monthly "share" from local farmers, and then you receive a box filled with goodies. You never know what you might get, so you have to experiment!
How do you feel about veggies?

* Meatless Monday is a movement to increase awareness of sustainable, meat-free eating, by eating meatless meals on Mondays. So alliterative!


Darci said...

What kind of peas are you hating on? Have you tried a bag of frozen "petite peas?" So yummy.

Unknown said...

I love me some veggies, but I agree with you that they are sometimes more fun to eat if they're incorporated into the main dish. My hubby will only eat peas, corn, and carrots. :)

Catfish said...

Darci - I'm not a fan of any of the sweeter vegetables. I do like peas in my tuna casserole, though!
@Wombat -- that's so funny about your husband. At least he's getting a good variety of colors there.