Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pile the Veggies High

THE BUZZ: In 2009, only 26.3 percent of American adults ate three or more servings of vegetables a day, and just 32.5 percent ate two or more servings, according to a recent Centers For Disease Control and Prevention report. FYI... the United States Department of Agriculture's latest food guide recommends five vegetable servings if you're on a 2,000-calorie diet. 

BACKGROUND: The September report was meant to determine if Americans were meeting the Healthy People 2010 objectives calling for at least 75 percent of individuals (older than age two) to eat two or more servings of veggies everyday and 50 percent to eat three or more… Clearly coming in a bit sub-par.

MAKING NOISE: A recent New York Times article about Americans’ lack of all things green and nutrient-dense in their diets included these CDC findings and a few other startling numbers… only 23 percent of meals included a vegetable, according to this year’s annual “Eating Patterns in America” report from the market research company, NPD Group. The bottom line (as the article explained) is vegetables are tough for Americans to stomach because (a) they require more planning to keep fresh in the fridge, (b) they’re not as easy to eat on the go, and (c) people don’t know how to cook them.

MY TAKE: Make vegetables easier…
  • Look for long-shelf-life veggies: Spinach keeps longer than most leaf lettuce. And thicker skin on zucchini and squashes extend their fresh window compared to asparagus or broccoli.
  • Use the freezer: If you end up grabbing dinner out instead of cooking that veggie stir-fry, don’t toss the produce. Clean it, chop it, and toss in the freezer. Use in a pot of vegetable soup, or microwave for an easy side.
  • Try no-prep veggies: Pre-washed baby carrots take five seconds to toss in a bag and in a lunchbox, and even NYC grocery stores sell bags for less than $2. Frozen or canned vegetables are ready to use as soon as the package is open.
  • Use with reckless disregard: Bulk up a sandwich with spinach, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, artichokes, or avocado. Mix something green into your next pan of mac and cheese (try frozen peas, spinach, or broccoli). Or sauté your favorite combo of onion, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, or zucchini, and add to scrambled eggs.

And finally, make them taste good. Some of my favorite ways to “veg” out…

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