Eat Your Veggies!

(Thank you Blog Designs by Sheila for updating my comments to be numbered... this will make giveaways soooooo much easier.  If anyone needs help with a blog design, Sheila did mine, and she was super easy to work with!)

First (well I guess this is second after the shout-out), totally off topic... but I felt a little like Beth of SUAR when facebook came up with Dean Karnazes as a friend suggestion.  It suggested Ryan Hall a few weeks ago.  I wonder what some of these Endurance Celebs think when they get a friend request?  Do they assume they just forgot your name?

Anyhow, continuing with my topic of the day - VEGGIES.  You love them, right?  Well, if you're like me, you hated them as a child.  I was the world's pickiest eater.  Seriously, just ask my mother.  She said as a baby, I would only eat the dessert baby foods.  Well, duh!  I pretty much hated all veggies except green beans and corn, and maybe the occassional broccoli if it was smothered in cheese.  I hated onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, mushrooms, olives, brussel sprouts, spinach, lima beans, and peas.  I wasn't fond of carrots, especially when cooked.  And I wouldn't dare try anything like kale, zucchini, eggplant, or squash.  Being the sweet daughter that I was, my mom often got out a second pan and made a meal just for me.

Fortunately as part of trying to eat healthier, I realized that I was going to have to find a way to incorporate more vegetables into my diet.  Now, I'm part of a veggie co-op.  So whether I like them or not, every two weeks, I have a laundry basket filled with fresh veggies.  You know what I've discovered... there are four categories:

1.  Things I knew I liked and still do.

  • Green Beans, Corn, and Broccoli (though I've dropped the canned green beans and corn and stick with fresh or frozen, and broccoli is preferred fresh and cooked in a skillet just enough to still be crisp).

2.  Things I hadn't really tried and was pleasantly surprised.

  • Squash, zucchini, edamame, and kale (although on squash and zucchini, I prefer them cooked al dente - not nearly as appetizing if they are smooshy)

3.  Things I thought I hated, but gave them a second shot and was pleasantly surprised.

  • Onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, cauliflower, carrots, sweet potatoes, and spinach (just ask mom, she thinks I put spinach in EVERYTHING now...)

4.  Things I knew I hated and still do.

  • Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, olives, lima beans, and peas (though I'll tolerate peas if they are in a mixed dish)

Are veggies my favorite?  Um, no, I'd rather eat a giant bar of chocolate, but I'm commited to eating them, and having fresh ones around the house really makes everything more delicious.  So here's some of the ways I add veggies to my diet (besides just as a side dish at dinner)...

- Salads - I know, this is a no-brainer, but my salads in the old days used to consist of a bowl of iceberg lettuce with ham and cheese chunks covered in ranch dressing.  Now, they are likely a huge bed of spinach, probably with a small chicken breast on top and I generally add carrots, bell peppers, sometimes broccoli, and basically anything I can find in my fridge.  Sometimes I'll even give the veggies a quick cook in the pan just to add flavor and change the texture.
- Sandwiches - I love to add spinach and (don't think I'm a weirdo) carrots to my sandwiches.  Seriously... love it.  To get the carrots thin enough not to overpower, I use a peeler so I get nice thin shreds.
- Pizzas - Even if I have a store-bought pizza, I will often see what's in the fridge and add hoards of spinach and occassionally grated zucchini and thin slices of bell pepper.
- Pasta sauce - This is a veggie wonderland... you can add almost anything.  For me, most often - carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, and onions.
- Eggs - Love to top them with a little spinach and some tomatoes, especially if we're having them for dinner. 
- Soups - Another no brainer, this is an easy place to pretty much chop up anything you have in your fridge - especially onions, celery, and carrots.

And in the kids school lunches - I often put carrot sticks, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and bell pepper slices.

And as the former veggie hater... look at step one of my dinner tonight:

Yes, a great big bowl of zucchini, carrots, and cauliflower... right before I added in the onion and chicken... and...

Yum, teriyaki chicken on a bed of rice (half white and half brown).  (Don't forget, my kids are 2, 6, and 8 - and yes, they eat every veggie on their plate... Paige, the 2-year-old, has often eaten half the veggies raw off the counter before I'm able to cook them.)

And last night?  We had kale and potatoes with a tiny bit of sausage added... and the kids cleaned their plates.

Want more ways to add veggies to your dishes?  Check out these blogs:
http://foodtorunfor.blogspot.com/ - Just look at the blog title, you know you need to check it!  But Lizzy is an expert at incorporating veggies into dishes in uber-creative ways.  Plus she's a marathoner! 
http://www.baha703ironman.com/ - Jason posts an Athlete's Plate menu around once a week.  He's meatless, but I have no problem substituting chicken for tofu!  Plus he's working on a cookbook!