We all know that we should eat more vegetables. It’s hard-first you have to source out the organic, non-GMO, American grown, most popular vegetables. STOP! Just stop right there. If you make this so difficult, you may never approach the recommended daily intake. We are again allowing ourselves to be “paralyzed by comparison”. We read about the vegans, the Juicers, the Homesteaders. They eat all the organic/home grown best stuff in the world. So we think that since we will never achieve the above-we might as well go through the drive through and use the french fries, the limp lettuce leaf, the pinkish tomato and the strawberries in the milkshake as our vegetable intake. Again, I say STOP!
First, let’s look at what the average senior citizen of moderate activity needs in a day. I found a chart on Cooking Light that I liked-you can look up your age and activity level here. For the Piper and myself, being over 51 years old-it comes down to this:
- Women over 51 years, leading a moderately active life of 30-60 minutes of exercise a day need 1 1/2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables -a total of 4 cups a day.
- Men over 51 years, leading a moderately active life of 30-60 minutes of exercise a day need 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables-a total of 5 cups a day.
That is a lot of lettuce….or not. The easiest method of getting more vegetables/fruits into your body is to simplify your approach.
- Buy the vegetables and fruits. Make the best choices you can within your means and time allowance. Best choices ARE organic and American grown. But I think it would be better to eat 6 cups of non-organic vegetables/fruits per day-than to eat none-don’t you agree?
- Go home-don’t put the veggies in the fridge. Get out the colander, to wash everything, and the cutting board and your best knife. Now wash and break down all those veggies into snack size. It will probably take about 30 minutes-and men are certainly capable of this task too. So are all ages of children-the washing is within their skill set-so is loading the cleaned vegetables into the storage containers. Anyone who helps is more likely to EAT the vegetables.
- Store the veggies/fruits in the fridge for consumption through out the week. I use these cool containers or vegetable storage bags. Place the big container of vegetables in front of the milk-where everyone can see it. I don’t cut fruits ahead of time, but will note that if you give a child a whole apple, they may or may not eat it. If you give the same child a quickly sliced apple and a serving of natural peanut butter to scoop up…..they will eat it! And so will I!
What veggies should you buy? The ones you like of course! We like cauliflower, snap peas, baby carrots, radishes,green onions, broccoli, celery, etc… In fact, a lot of stuff that is not lettuce! We do buy Romaine and Spring Mix greens when available-and eat from our garden as soon and as long as possible. And you know what? That same kid or grandpa who ate that sliced apple/peanut butter combo? They will eat a handful of fresh veggies with a puddle of Ranch dressing to dip them in-trust me. If the container of veggies in the fridge is as easy to access as the cookie jar-everyone will eat more vegetables! And on the plus side-if everyone is eating raw-you don’t have to cook a vegetable or two every night! Check out these menu ideas:
- Boneless chicken breast, grilled or baked + Choice of raw vegetables + a baked potato (7 minutes in the microwave).
- Hamburger on a whole wheat bun + Choice of raw vegetables + sliced banana and canned Mandarin oranges mixed together.
- Canned bake beans-warmed with grated cheese melting on top + Choice of raw vegetables + slice peaches canned in juice (or a fresh peach, in season).
I will not quibble about the fat in the peanut butter or Ranch dressing. Again make the best choices, and consider that everyone needs fats in their diet. And if a 15 year old teen and a 61 year old grandpa both eat a giant helping of raw veggies and 2 tablespoons of dressing-that is a great nutritional trade off. Get your priorities straight. Don’t be so hard on yourself-just eat your veggies!