by Daniel Anderson
I want to start by saying that I have no degree in nutrition or dietetics whatsoever. This is not an article written by an expert with a ton of citations and scientific rigor. What I want to do here is provide a practical way to get more vegetables into your diet.
Here’s my one reference: In Eat to Live, Dr. Joel Fuhrman recommends eating two pounds (!) of vegetables per day. One pound fresh, one pound cooked. The thesis here is that the typical American diet is nutrient deficient, falling far short of the recommended amount for optimal health. Citing a ton of research studies, Dr. Fuhrman outlines how much vegetables benefit us, including aiding with digestion, keeping our cells squeaky clean, providing us with energy, and helping to clear our minds and regulate stress and anxiety. In fact, over the last couple years I’ve really come to think that the health/diet craze stuff has gotten it all backwards. Rather than focusing on what we’re taking out (ex: “I’m going off carbs” or “I’m limiting my sugar after lunchtime” etc.) the emphasis should be on what we’re adding in. If someone came to me asking for health tips (and they shouldn’t, I’m not an expert, remember?) I would tell them don’t limit or restrict anything. Don’t change a single thing about what you’re eating EXCEPT to, without fail, eat the two pounds of vegetables every day that Eat to Live recommends.
How many veggies do you eat?
Just think for a second about how many vegetables you typically eat in a day. Really, take a minute. Did you have a handful of baby carrots? Or some lettuce on your burger? For most people that would honestly be their entire daily vegetable consumption. And who can blame them? Vegetables taste pretty bad! So the challenge becomes how do we consume something in such large quantities that is so inconvenient and not fun to eat?
For me and Natalie, the solution is to drink our vegetables. Much less painless, plus we get to pair them with their much more palatable relative, fruits. (Note: Dr. Fuhrman also recommends eating 5 fruits a day for optimal nutrition—not servings of fruit, 5 whole fruits). Believe me when I say a cup of frozen pineapple will cover a multitude of kale. Smoothies with a large vegetable base are great because unlike vegetable juice they keep all of the fiber in the veggies you’re drinking. It’s just a liquid salad.
Here’s our favorite go-to recipe:
Favorite Vegetable Smoothie
2 cups spinach/baby kale/any other dark leafy green you’re looking for. Spinach is definitely the most mild.
1 cup cucumber
1 and ½ cup frozen pineapple
½ lemon or lime, minus the peel of course
Dump it all in a blender, add water to cover, and enjoy! Kids love this stuff, too. So it’s a great addition to those nights when you just throw chicken nuggets in the microwave for the kiddos. It gives them a straight shot of nutrient dense goodness that they just inhale. Also note: his is a giant recipe for our family of 4. Go ahead and make half portions if you’re looking for a more modest serving size!
Do you guys have any favorite smoothie recipes? Comment below!