Do you need new ideas to enjoy vegetables?

In last month’s blog post, I shared my grief and struggles to radically alter my diet – my solution to manage physical symptoms that interfered with health and quality of life. At the end I shared my strategies to transform my struggle into success, and I promised that this month I would share some examples. To review, these are the two goals that helped me to find success:

1. The food I eat has to be full of flavour.

2. The food preparation has to be convenient – at least at some level.

You’ll see below that all my solutions involve cooked vegetables, because this is what I needed to promote my health and manage symptoms. Along with my pile of vegetables I still eat sources of protein, fat, and starch, but vegetables are the biggest portion of what I eat. Because my foods are so high in vegetables, I also have to include a third goal:

3. Add staying power to the food I eat – you get hungry quickly after eating vegetables high in insoluble fibre, because those vegetables empty out of your stomach quickly; to feel full for longer, you have to add protein or some healthy fat.

Here are examples of how I apply these goals, and an explanation of how those goals fit with each dish.

 Stir fry. Bok choi, carrots, zucchini, kohlrabi, and bean sprouts with firm tofu and peanuts for protein and fat. Flavoured with ginger, salt, and sesame oil.

Stir fry. Bok choi, carrots, zucchini, kohlrabi, and bean sprouts with firm tofu and peanuts for protein and fat. Flavoured with ginger, salt, and sesame oil.

Stir-fry. This is one of my breakfast solutions that I enjoy. I usually use bok choi, carrots, zucchini, kohlrabi, and bean sprouts, along with some ground turkey. I serve with about a half cup of rice.

Flavour: I season with lots of ground fresh ginger (½ cup per batch), plus some salt. I also drizzle on a bit of sesame oil for added flavour. It seems too simple, but my whole family enjoys it.

Convenience: I make this convenient by batch cooking. I set aside an hour each weekend to chop and cook the food, and I make enough for 7 portions, and eat leftovers all week. In the morning I reheat a portion – it’s really fast and convenient.

Staying power: the protein in the ground turkey, and the oils I use for cooking (coconut oil) and seasoning (sesame oil) help me to feel full for over four hours.

Frozen vegetables for snack. My go-to frozen vegetables are green and/or wax beans. Sometimes I include frozen baby carrots, spinach or kale to add colour, flavour and nutritional value. It’s super critical to add something for flavour: recently I prepared some frozen vegetables, and it seems I got distracted and forgot to add the flavour – not good! Blrgh!

Flavour: I choose from a variety of tasty options:

·      Simplest. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt. It’s amazing how much more satisfying this is than plain beans. For extra flavour, sprinkle with dried thyme. Alternatively, try a flavoured olive oil: I’m partial to the wild mushroom and sage olive oil from Evoolution.

·      Gingered. Sprinkle with dried ginger, a bit of salt, then drizzle with a bit of sesame oil and either soy or tamari sauce. Tastes like a stir fry.

·      Curry #1. Sprinkle with curry powder or garam masala, cinnamon, dried ginger, a bit of salt, then drizzle with olive oil.

 Frozen vegetable curry #2. Beans, carrots, broccoli, seasoned with garam masala, cinnamon, ginger, and salt, topped with peanut butter.

Frozen vegetable curry #2. Beans, carrots, broccoli, seasoned with garam masala, cinnamon, ginger, and salt, topped with peanut butter.

·      Curry #2. Same spice combination as #1, but instead of oil, top with a tablespoon of nut butter for a super creamy texture.
Both curries have great, bold flavour. My office mates often comment how great my snack smells. OmmNommNomm!

Convenience: These options take minimal preparation time: open the package, pour into the bowl, microwave, add flavours, eat.

Staying power: Oils help you feel full a bit longer. To feel full for longer, add protein and more fat with a tablespoon of nuts… but don’t add whole nuts to curry #2 to limit your fat intake.

 If you are modifying your diet for allergy or other health reasons, you probably have your own unique set of choices and limitations; you probably also have different tastes – so feel free to adjust my examples if you want to use them. Or come up with your own ideas. Focus on what you can eat, and ask yourself:

·      What do I enjoy that I can eat? Or what can I safely add to food to enhance flavour?

·      What can I do to make it easy?

Be open to experimenting and learning from every attempt.

Food is meant to be enjoyed. Life is meant to be lived. And it is possible to have both, even if you eat a restricted diet of any sort – I live this truth every day. If you need help living this truth, it would be my privilege to help you explore your options.

You Don’t Have to Journey Alone!

Kirstin Veugelers