The MOST important thing you can eat!

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Hello friends! As the summer has progressed I realized that I’ve slowly transformed the way I eat. As a result,  I have more energy and feel the best I ever have in my life. My skin is glowing and my body feels stronger- and I’m almost 50 years old! 

  
 Wow, this must be quite a radical change to my diet that involves eating gross foods, making weird complicated recipes, or buying expensive products, you might think. That is not the case at all, and I would bet you have the answer right in your own kitchens. It’s really quite simple, I EAT MORE VEGETABLES! Let me correct that, EAT MORE ORGANIC VEGETABLES- it is essential to eat organic whenever possible and vegetables are no exception. 

  
I sound like your mom used to, right, “eat your vegetables and you’ll grow big and strong!” But it is true, and there is compelling evidence for this way of eating. Now I’m not talking about becoming a vegan or vegetarian here. After all, I am a girl who LOVES her beef, pork, chicken-yum! I’m talking about changing the proportions of your plates at meal times. Let me take a moment to explain why vegetables are so good for you, and then I’ll talk about plate proportions. 

  
You might say, “this isn’t rocket science, Vital Val, I know vegetables are good for me.” Of course you do, but do you know just how critical they are for your continuing good health? According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lower risks for numerous chronic diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.”  Well here’s why that is true. Vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals, are low in calories, rich in dietary fiber, and contain substances found in plants that help prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.

  
I just read about a study done recently that showed women who ate 7-8 servings of vegetables and fruits high in flavonoids had a 21% lower risk of ovarian cancer. Flavanoids are super antioxidants found in many fruits and vegetables that support cell formation and suppress poor cellular growth to have an anti-cancer effect. They also support heart health and combat atherosclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. 

Here’s the cool thing, flavonoids complement vitamin C, which is an essential nutrient for the body, enhancing its effect. It’s like buy two get one free, a super deal! High flavonoid fruits and vegetables: red and orange bell peppers (raw is best for absorption of nutrients, I love to dip them in hummus), strawberries, citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, spinach, green tea and RED WINE- yay! 

  
And that’s just flavonoids, my friends. Vegetables contain many, many other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help support your body. Now, I know I’m not discussing fruit as much as vegetables, however I feel vegetables get a bad rap compared to fruits. Plus, fruits contain sugar, albeit in a natural form, and I try to limit my sugar intake. I usual eat fruit once a day only, and get my other 7 servings required with vegetables. 

BUT, don’t eat french fries and say that you’re eating vegetables. What I do is try to keep the vegetables as close to their original state as possible, and still make them tasty. Here’s an example from the other night’s dinner, which is typical of the way I eat these days. We had pork chops which I marinated in garlic, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), salt, pepper and herbs from my garden, and my significant other grilled them to perfection. 

  
Jacqueline sliced tomatoes from my garden and added EVOO, basil, salt and pepper. 

  
I boiled 6 ears of corn from the farmer’s market, allowed it to cool and then cut it off the cob and added a little organic butter. Danielle had corn shucking duty that night- her favorite! 🙂

  
Earlier in the day I boiled beets that I bought at the farmer’s market for an hour, cooled them a bit and peeled the skin off which slides off easily in your hands after boiling them. Then I chopped them and added a small amount of butter, salt and pepper. They can be warmed right before dinner which is what I did. I hope you don’t say, “Ew, beets are gross”, because they’re not! Beets are delicious and so good for you- see my past post “And the Beet goes on!”, for more info.

  
I’m really into these tiny potatoes that I bought from Fresh Market because they cook quickly and they’re so tender. I took them, a bunch of asparagus, a whole onion, chopped them, added garlic, EVOO, red pepper flakes, herbs, salt and pepper, and roasted them on a big tray in the oven at 375 for 30 minutes. 

  
So, I had tomatoes, beets, corn, potatoes, asparagus, and onions in addition to my protein. I almost got my 7 veggies a day in ONE MEAL. And as you can see the vegetables dominate my plate which is as it should be for maximum health. Here’s the thing though, it was SO GOOD! The meal was full of flavor and all my eaters loved the meal. I felt full, but not too full, and SATISFIED. These are not dry, boring, tasteless vegetables, folks, but vibrant and delicious additions to your meal. 

Enjoy your vegetables because they’re full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They’ll fill you up, keep you satisfied, and protect you from all kinds of heinous diseases. Plus they are tasty when prepared properly. When winter comes to the Midwest, I can’t utilize the farmers markets or my garden as the source for my veggies, but health food grocery stores have a great variety of organic fresh and frozen ones to choose from. So get your 7-8 servings of fruits and veggies my friends, but try to make sure most of those are vegetables. Eating vegetables will help you live a life of vitality- with Valerie!

 

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