You’ve heard it before and you’ll probably hear it again; EAT YOUR VEGGIES!! But why? How? We know that they are good for us and that we are supposed to eat them, right? But it turns out that we aren’t. In 2014, Statistics Canada found that less than 40% of Canadians over the age of 12 were reported meeting the daily recommended intakes of 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. That’s less than half!! Some clients have told me that it’s how they grew up, some it was due to a texture or pickiness issue and others simply didn’t know how to cook them right (i.e. usually over cooked them).
I will offer you some simple solutions to those problems. Our tastes for certain foods do in fact change as we age, this means that you may have hated something when you were a kid but may love it now and vice-versa. Also, the way we cook, what oils/fats or even herbs/spices we use will all change the way a food will taste. So what I say to those that never liked Brussel sprouts as a child: cook them differently. Chop them, slice them, roast them, stir fry them. Add garlic infused oil or even bacon to it! Simply change the way you cook them. Vegetables are not meant to be cooked until they are mush, ideally they are to be cooked until al dente, or with a little crunch is left. This will help preserve some of the flavour and allow for some texture too.
There are ways to sneak vegetables in without actually eating them. How so you ask? One simple trick I like to do for myself is grating carrots into any salad type sandwich. Whether it’s chicken, egg, tuna or salmon, chop some celery, cucumbers and maybe even peppers into the mix, but also grate in a carrot!
Don’t have time to cook veggies with the supper? Serve some sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and celery with your favourite dip! A recipe only calls for 1 stalk of celery? Add 2. Or 3! I always talk about how recipes are meant to be changed, so change them! Don’t like kale? No problem! Use spinach. Or Swiss Chard. Or even green collards instead! Having pizza? Add more veggies to the toppings! Or have a side salad while you wait until it gets delivered! No time to cook and having a frozen dinner? Add some frozen veggies to it while it cooks!
After I graduated from university, I started a practice of once a month buying one fruit or vegetable that I had never eaten or used before. Would research it and find a recipe that I wanted to try. Sometimes I liked the item and others maybe not so much. But this was definitely a good way to introduce myself to the many different and wonderful selection of produce we have!
Now I’m curious…what are some of the ways that you like to incorporate veggies into your meals/snacks?
The original recipe comes from @reciperunner, I have adapted it slightly so that it would fit my LowFODMAP needs. Add the shallots and garlic back if you have no need to avoid them. I’ve mentioned before and I’ll mention it again, I love to eat these types of comfort foods, especially in the cold winter weather. They usually tend to be high in calories but with a few adjustments to select ingredients and an addition of mushrooms, you have a very tasty meal on your hands.
I’ve mentioned FODMAPs quite a few times in the recipes that I have posted, but do you know what they are? FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols. Basically they are naturally occurring sugars that are just not absorbed in the small intestine. So they then travel down to the large intestine where the gut bacteria can digest them either and end up fermenting them, which results in IBS symptoms.
They have been studied by Monash University in Australia and continue to be studied. They have been known to be a trigger for people who have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). By removing some and/or all of the foods high in FODMAPs seem to help manage symptoms of IBS. IBS can be triggered by foods and/or high stress/anxiety levels. So if you have digestive symptoms that don’t seem to go away (i.e. bloating, stomach pain/spasms, excessive gas, constipation and/or diarrhea – just to name a few) maybe consider foods high in FODMAPS could be a culprit. If you think so, I recommend consulting with a Registered Dietitian who specializes in gut health. They can help you figure out what foods could be your trigger without having to go through any blood tests.
Here’s the recipe. Serves 4.
1 large spaghetti squash
3 chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
2 tsp olive oil
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 ounce of low fat cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup shredded parmeasan-reggianno cheese
¼ cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
Salt and Pepper to taste
1) Preheat the oven at 400°F and line a baking sheet with either aluminum foil or parchment paper.
2) Cut the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds
3) Rub or spray the inside with oil and season with some salt and pepper. Then place cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for about 30-40 min or until the flesh can be cut with a knife.
4) Remove from the oven and let cool, until so you can pick it up without it being too hot to handle
5) Using a fork, scrap out the flesh and put into a bowl
6) Place the empty shells back on the baking sheet and set aside.
7) Take a large skillet/pan and add 1-2 tsp of oil and heat over medium-high heat
8) When heated, add the chicken to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until cooked through, remove from the skillet and set aside.
9) Turn the heat down to medium, add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add the red pepper flakes and saute for 30-60 seconds then add the broccoli and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Then add a couple of tablespoons of water and let steam for 2-3 minutes, or until the broccoli becomes al dente.
10) Add the chicken back in.
11) Add the cream cheese and chicken broth. Stir until combined with the ingredients.
12) Add half of the cheese, stir and let it melt.
13) Remove from heat and stir in the Greek yogurt.
14) Preheat oven to a broil.
15) Divide the mixture between the two shells, top with the remaining cheese and place in the oven to broil until the cheese starts to brown.
16) Remove from oven. Let sit for about 5 minutes to cool and serve!
I work as a Dietitian and definitely walk the talk. I love to cook and help people get back to being healthy again.