“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” – Doug Larson
What’s In Vegetables
We do not nearly get the daily recommended fruits and vegetables our bodies need. Nutritionists and studies tell us that the average individual (male or female) needs 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1-2 cups of fruits.
The vegetables and fruits that we do consume (if any) barely contain the essential vitamins and antioxidants our bodies should be getting. Our bodies need a wide range of different fruits and vegetables, however, TV and media have led us to believe that alternatives like V8, Naked or Jamba Juice can be enough. Although these sources contain some good mixtures they are often heavily loaded with sugars or limited in the variety of fruits or vegetables used. Vegetables and fruits also provide necessary roughage, antioxidants, fiber, protein, oils, phytonutrients, and healing benefits that multi-vitamins or supplements cannot provide. Ultimately, our current generation suffers from ailments, diseases and health issues that can all be traced back to a heavy processed-food diet. If you want to live longer, perform better and avoid common illnesses you need to get your daily dose of vegetables.
How Do You Even Cook Vegetables?
We all know how to cook a steak or make some spaghetti and meatballs. There are hundreds of different recipes on how to cook chicken, beef, pork, fish and any other meat. However, do we know how to cook vegetables? Give someone a head of cauliflower and ask them how many different recipes they can think of? None come to my mind. I don’t even know how you cook cauliflower. This lack of knowledge or information on how to cook vegetables is a big deterrent to even purchasing them in the first place. We see these vegetables in the grocery store, know that we need to eat them but have no clue on how to cook them or incorporate them into our meals and so we skip past them. What’s worse, there are so many different varieties and types of vegetables that if we do not understand how to cook the main ones (broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, carrots) chances that we know how to cook the non-main ones (Brussel sprouts, eggplant, kale, beets, yams) are slim to none. And these are the vegetables we really need to be having on a weekly basis.
There Is Too Much Prep-work For Vegetables
Unlike most meats or carbs, vegetables are not always as straightforward to cook. Some take extensive peeling, boiling, baking, chopping or cooking before they can be eaten properly. In some cases, cooking/preparing a vegetable dish can even take longer than a meat dish. Moreover, if you are combining different vegetables or making different vegetable dishes weekly this can add up to a lot of prep time in the kitchen. Over time, this can become a deterrent because we are tried after a long day of work and we want to make meals that a quick. The thought of taking an extra amount of time to prepare some vegetables as opposed to a quick meal by skipping them is one that can be quite compelling.
What Vegetables And How Much Do I Really Need?
Do you know how many servings of vegetables you need daily? Do you know what vegetables you need to eat? Chances are most people do not know the answer to either question. There are so many different studies, articles, and posts about different vegetables that it can be difficult to discern which ones to start with. There are over 2000 varieties of vegetables around the world and finding the key ones can be a real challenge. What also makes this difficult is different vegetables contain different nutrients and benefits. Almost any vegetable is good for you but having just one is not good enough. They need to be combined to ensure that your body receives the vitamins, proteins, and nutrients it needs to be healthy.
A Bowl Of Vegetables Will Never Taste As Good As A Burger
Healthy options do not taste as good as restaurant food. We know this. There is hardly a comparison in taste between a bowl of broccoli versus a double cheeseburger, large fries, and a coke. As such, it becomes difficult to rationalize the appeal of eating vegetables as a meal or meal replacement. Over time, we began to lose our interest and start to subtract vegetables in place of meals that are breaded, fried or baked. Soon, choosing healthy food options over delicious fast-food or unhealthy counterparts becomes very difficult.
Similarly, we also get bored eating the same meals days on end. Eating a small set of the same bland vegetables, cooked in the same way can become very unappealing. After a while, these meals get boring and unappealing and we seek variety. It is difficult coming up with different recipes and tastes when you only have a limited set of vegetables to choose from or recipes. At a certain point, we lose interest and appetite and this often leads us to turn to unhealthy options because they are different and delicious.
The Fruit And Vegetable Diet
As much as we would like to believe that it is possible to buy, clean, cut and cook essential vegetables for every meal, this is simply not the case. Unless you are a vegetarian where your diet only consists of vegetables, it is just not feasible to identify a rotation of recipes which contain very healthy vegetables, prepared in a manner for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Taking this route will end up in one of two outcomes:
1. You will only a short list of common vegetables like broccoli, spinach, bell peppers, and potatoes. This list is used because these vegetables are easy to cook and contain the most common recipes which will be repeated over and over again.
2. You will seek out a big list of vegetables and cook them in ways that mask the taste and texture. This will involve adding multiple sauces, spices and unhealthy techniques like frying, breading or sauteeing with butter.
In both of these approaches, you are missing out on the full benefits of vegetables. By limit the list you cut out vegetables that are essential to providing the body nutrients that it needs simply because they are difficult to cook, limited recipes or they just don’t go well with most meats and carbs. Eggplant and Kale are good examples of this because it is hard to pair them with proteins like eggs, steak or fish. They are also cooked much differently and so they need to be prepared separately which might mean double the cooking. The second outcome is also not desired. By taking a bunch of different vegetables and cooking them in unhealthy ways, you lose their altogether. The goal of vegetables is not to mask the taste but to have them in their rawest form to extract as much of the essential nutrients as possible. Breading, frying and dumping a bunch of different sauces just to get them in defeats the purpose. There are also countless studies that show eating cooking vegetables diminishes the amount of nutrient absorption.
In my opinion, the best way to maximize the benefit and reap all of the essential nutrients is to create super smoothies that blend together multiple vegetables, fruits, gains/nuts, and oils. Smoothies are superior to any other method of consuming vegetables that I have come across. They keep vegetables in their raw state, increasing nutrient absorption. Blending works to break everything down to that the body can easily and quickly absorb the nutrients it needs. Smoothies take a fraction of the time to prepare than any other method. There is no cooking, preparing or seasoning that is involved. They also take a fraction of the time to consume. There is no more need to have multiple servings in order to get in all of your vegetables. Everything can be consumed in one tall glass of smoothie. Above all of these reasons, smoothies are the best method for delivery because they allow you to combine multiple vegetables, fruits, grains/nuts, and oils to give your body everything thing it needs in a power-packed form. In summary, they also allow you to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients and vitamins possible with the least amount of work. No other method comes close and is as effective.
Identify A List Of Healthy Vegetables
The key to building discipline or a routine around eating vegetables daily or weekly is to understand what vegetables to eat and which ones to ignore. The best place to start is to identify the key vitamins and nutrients that your body needs. It is important to only focus on the essential vitamins and nutrients because there are hundreds out there and your body does not need all of them on a regular basis. A good resource that I have used in the past are sites like this: https://www.goodnet.org/articles/11-essential-vitamins-minerals-your-body-needs
Once you have your list, seek out a set of 5-8 vegetables that covers those vitamins. It should not be hard because some “super” vegetables can contain multiple vitamin groups. As you are building your list focus on vegetables that are easy to acquire in grocery stores and/or are relatively inexpensive. Creating a list of rare and expensive vegetables will not get you any closer to ingesting them more often because you will be spending a lot of money or lose interest in chasing them down in specialty stores.
Each week, go to the grocery store and stock up on the vegetables that you need. Doing this will ensure that you have the necessary ingredient on-hand when you need them. Unlike proteins and carbs, shopping for vegetable can take more time because you have to inspect them for freshness, identify and select the correct quantity. This added effort should not be kept until the last minute because we are all strapped for time and anything that can delay us has the potential of being forgotten or not done. Coming home after a long day of work and having to spend extra time in the grocery store picking out vegetables for that day or week can be enough of a deterrent to skip it altogether. Cut out this possibility by shopping specifically for vegetables before the week starts.
Listed below is the list of essential nutrients, benefits, and vegetables which I initially used. Feel free to use this as a starting point and expand or modify as you see fit.
Every week, go to the grocery store and stock up on the vegetables that you need. Doing this will ensure that you have the necessary ingredient on-hand when you need them. Unlike proteins and carbs, shopping for vegetable can take more time because you have to inspect them for freshness, identify and select the correct quantity. This added effort should not be kept until the last minute because we are all strapped for time and anything that can delay us has the potential of being forgotten or not done. Coming home after a long day of work and having to spend extra time in the grocery store picking out vegetables for that day or week can be enough of a deterrent to skip it altogether. Cut out this possibility by shopping specifically for vegetables before the week starts.
Get A Powerful Blender
The importance of a good blender is paramount. Considering that you will be blending together soft, hard, sticky and frozen items together every week, you need a blender that can stand up to the job. Your blender needs to be able to blend items of different densities to a liquid form without lumps. Your blender does not need to be very expensive, but it does need to be consistent, reliable and powerful. Cheap blenders that leave lumps or breakdown when they are stuffed to the brim will not be effective. The goal is to combine lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and oils together to make a drink that is smooth and tolerable. Cheap blenders that cannot do this properly will significantly impact the discipline that you have to drink these smoothies. When I first started this, I used a bad blender that produced lumps of vegetables and did not properly blend everything together. The smoothies were disgusting and caused me to abandon the program. It was not until I started using a powerful blender like a Vitamix that I was able to create smoothies that were easy to drink and properly blended all of the flavors together.
Make Vegetable Smoothies For Every Day
Now that you’ve identified your list of healthy vegetables, fully stocked your fridge and have a powerful blender it’s time to make the smoothie. Since this isn’t rocket science there is no real method to how you put in the ingredients. There is not much advice I can give here other than share my smoothie recipe and a few guiding principles to consider.
My Smoothie Recipe:
- 1 1/2 cups of Kale (Vitamin A, C, K, Magnesium)
- 1 1/2 cups of Spinach (Vitamin A, K, B Vitamins, Iron)
- 1 cup of Carrots (Vitamin A, K)
- 1/2 cup of Mushrooms (Vitamin D)
- 1 cup of mixed blueberries, goji berries, raspberries or acai berries (Antioxidants, Zinc)
- A couple of thin slices of ginger (Anti-inflammatory, Vitamin E)
- 1/2 cup of flax seeds or chia seeds (Protein, Fiber, Manganese, Calcium)
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil (Medium-Chain Triglycerides)
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil (Monounsaturated Fatty Acids)
- 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (Digestive)
- 1 teaspoon of flaxseeds (Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Fiber)
- 4-5 cups of water (Hydration)
- I like to refer to: Top Power Fruits and Vegetables and make my own anti-cancer, anti-aging or skin, and hair benefit smoothie concoctions
- Go to Costco and buy vegetables, frozen fruits, nuts and oils in bulk for cheap
- Healthy-fat oils like coconut oil or olive oil contain necessary fats and energy (fat is a very stable source of energy for the body). A tablespoon of each should be sufficient. With all of the other ingredients, you will not even taste it.
- Apple cider vinegar can help lower cholesterol, blood sugar and aid in digestion
- Ginger and leaves of mint can help reduce inflammation in the body
- Skip breakfast and replace with a tall glass of this smoothie. You will immediately fuel your body with everything good and since it is the first meal of the day everything will get absorbed.
- Store in a tall shaker bottle so that you can easily mix it up every time you drink to avoid all of the nutrients and roughage from sinking to the bottom. Every day you can have a glass of the juice/smoothie.
Advantages Of Eating Healthy Food
By making a smoothie with a healthy balance of power fruits and veggies every Sunday, you can start each day with a power packed smoothie. If you replace breakfast with this smoothie you can give your body all the good stuff when it is ripe to absorb and use all of those vitamins, fats, fiber, and antioxidants. Since implementing smoothies as my ingestion method for vegetables my body feels great. I am able to recover quicker after workouts, I feel full of energy, and my digestive system in regular.
I hope that this trick can help you overcome your fears or obstacles of eating vegetables. I am confident that through this method you will feel better and save so much time trying to force vegetables into your meals with complicated or unhealthy recipes. Your future self will thank you for all of the compounding effects.
What Are Your Most Effective Tips and Tricks for Consuming Vegetables?
What I’ve shared above are tactics and techniques that have worked for me, however, I am still looking for more effective ways of adding different vegetables to my smoothie. I would love to hear what tactics or techniques have worked well for you. Feel free to comment below with an example. Please share so we can learn and possibly incorporate ourselves.