Whenever I go home to visit my parents, I become a version of my future self.
I lecture about the virtues of eating the rainbow. Scream when I see their counters littered with Entenmann's cakes, Oreos, and loaf upon loaf of white bread. Go balls-to-the-wall crazy when I open their fridge and find not a single vegetable other than Iceberg lettuce.
Then comes dinner time. At which point, I refuse to let anyone leave the table until they have eaten all of their veggies. And then feel perfectly entitled to send people to stand in a corner and think about what they've done when they fail to comply.
Tough love, people. I only do it because I love them and want them all to be at healthy BMIs and live to be 150, type II diabetes free. Plus, I've usually arrived with a lovely decadent dessert in tow. And they need to earn their keep somehow. (I should note that I do not include my mother in this "they" of which I speak. I'm pretty sure she would happily be a vegetarian if not for everyone else's meat-eating ways and is always willing to eat her fair share of whatever veggie-rich meal that I have prepared.)
I wasn't always this way, however. Backtrack about four years ago. And I could not have told you what a butternut squash was (the HORROR). I had never eaten a sweet potato. And certainly nothing as green as kale or swiss chard had ever touched my lips.
And now? Other than celery (which is the devil incarnated, I'm convinced), I will eat just about any vegetable you put in front of me. With glee.
So what changed? My mindset. I wanted to lose weight at the time. Calories in v. calories out. And you get more bang for your buck when you eat a plate full of veggies than you do when you eat a bowl full of Easy Mac. Truer words were never spoken.
This obviously didn't happen overnight, though. It took time and effort and a lot of forcing myself to just try things over and over until I decided I liked them.
Here's what I did:
1. Go meatless! For at least one meal a week. And with your remaining meals, try using less meat and bulking up dishes you already love with some vegetables or legumes. By slowly incorporating vegetables into dishes you already eat, you may not notice them as much. I'm also the type of person who only feels satisfied when I eat in bulk and you can do so with MANY fewer calories if you stuff yourself with veggies rather than ground beef! Did I mention this will also save you money? Score.
2. Try something new every week! If you're reading this, you're probably a food lover. You probably love experimenting with new recipes and techniques...so why not use this to expand your veggie-eating horizons? Think of it as a challenge...Iron Chef-style. Each week you get a new fruit or vegetable, with your mission being to find a way to prepare it as deliciously as possible. Fun, right? Also, don't write off a vegetable until you've tried it at least three times! Sometimes it takes a while for our palates to get used to new foods or to find a way to prepare a vegetable so that we really enjoy it. Think of it as the difference between eating a raw onion and a caramelized onion. Same vegetable. Totally different flavors. It's totally plausible that you could love one and hate the other. So don't give up so easily!
3. Eat the rainbow. I'll be honest with you. You can call me crazy, but sometimes I add veggies into dishes because the variety of colors will be more photogenic. A dish full of brown or beige does not look good in pictures. A dish with red and green and purple and orange, however? Stunning. And if your plate looks good, you'll be more likely to eat it. (And if your photos come out better, you'll up your readership. Incentives come in all shapes and sizes.)
What tools do you use to make sure that you eat your five a day? Write and post about it and link up here or write about it in the comments!
And check out how the other Eat.Live.Be-ers eat their veggies!
- Sarah Caron from Sarah’s Cucina Bella
- Joanne from Eats Well with Others
- Chris Arpante – Melecotte
- Patsy – Family, Friends and Food
- Claire – Cooking is Medicine
- Sarah Rogers – Sarah’s Sweet Creations
- Rivki from Healthy Eating for Ordinary People
- Claudia from Journey of an Italian Cook
- New Jersey Epicurean
Alright. Let's talk about this stew.
Last week, I received 24 8-oz bottles of pomegranate juice in the mail. 24. Can you even imagine how much pomegranate juice that is? I can't.
It was in exchange for me letting the good lovely wonderful folks over at POM publish one of my recipes on their blog. (The oven-fried chicken and waffles with juniper-infused pomegranate maple syrup!) I mean, I was expecting one case of the stuff and then went I went to pick up my package from the mail room, they handed me three. THREE?!?!? Sigh, yes. The generosity is astounding.
And since I live in NYC in an apartment only a tad bigger than my pinky finger, I immediately set to making up a batch of pomegranate molasses. Which not only takes up less space in the fridge but is also required for most of the recipes out there that involve pomegranates. Score.
Like, for example. This stew. Oh, this stew, which is filled with such complexly delicious flavor. The pomegranate molasses gives it a hint of sweetness and tartness and tang that hits your taste buds from every angle. And it's veggiefull. And antioxidant full. And will help you to live forever. Hefty perks all around, wouldn't you say?
Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses
Serves 4, adapted from Food and Wine
1 1/2 lb eggplant
1/2 cup lentils
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup water (plus more to cook the lentils)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (or 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped)
2 Anaheim or other long green chiles, stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp chopped mint leaves
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (recipe to follow)
1. Partially peel the eggplant so that it has lengthwise stripes (I used a potato peeler for this!). Cut it lengthwise into four pieces. Score each slice on one side with a cross-hatch pattern. Cut each slice widthwise into thirds. Set on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit for 1 hour.
2. In a small saucepan, cover the lentils with at least 2 inches of salted water. Let boil, then cover and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Drain.
3. Coat a medium-sized pot (or stovetop-safe casserole!) with one tbsp olive oil. In a large bowl, mix together the onion, garlic, tomatoes, chiles, mint, tomato paste, crushed red pepper flakes, and 2 tsp salt.
4. Rinse the eggplant and pat dry. Spread 1/2 cup of the veggie mixture on the bottom of the pot. Top with half of the eggplant. Cover with half of the lentils and half of the remaining veggies. Top with the remaining eggplant, lentils and veggies. Pour the remaining tbsp olive oil and 1/2 cup water around the side and over the veggies. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses.
5. Bring the stew to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the eggplant is very tender, 1-1.5 hours. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature over polenta, rice, barley, etc.
Makes about 1-1 1/4 cups, adapted from Simply Recipes
4 cups pomegranate juice (I used a mix of POM original and POM Cranberry!)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice.
In a large, uncovered saucepan, heat pomegranate juice, sugar, and lemon juice on medium high until the sugar has dissolved and the juice simmers. Reduce heat just enough to maintain a simmer and cook for about an hour or until it has reached a syrupy consistency. It won't be as thick as regular molasses, but about as thick as maple syrup. Pour out into a jar. Let cool. Refrigerate.
I am submitting this to:
Meatless Mondays hosted by Chaya of My Sweet and Savory
Maniac Meatless Mondays hosted by Rebecca Jean of Midnight Maniac
Souper Sundays hosted by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen
The Hearth and Soul Blog Hop