Energy. Life. Crunch.

I have started this post four or five times. Each time I tried to work out an approach to what I wanted to say and each time it got really complicated really fast and then I didn’t want to finish it.

New approach. Cut to the chase.

No matter what your dietary habits are, or what diet you are trying to follow, you aren’t eating enough vegetables.

I’m on a lot of social network pages, YouTube, and blogs about healthy food and healthy cooking. Everyone likes to post a special dessert, or a bread that doesn’t have this or that in it, or a hearty thick soup or stew. Anything rich and usually heavier in calorie density than veggies. That is “what sells.” That is what people are looking for.

Keto? My keto friends are all about the meat, the butter, the cheese, the fat, the protein. What is recommended? Lots and lots of vegetables. And there are some awesome vegetable and salad dishes in keto cookbooks!

I would never do keto because it is the opposite of healthy in my opinion. But what makes it REALLY bad is when keto is practiced without enough vegetables. I have one friend who told me her keto guru recommends seven servings of veggies a day. I would think you would have to eat at least that many veggies in order to survive keto at all!

Keto without enough vegetables is downright dangerous.

Even the whole food plant based, vegan and macrobiotic people are shy in the vegetable department. I see it all the time.

I am not saying “vegetables are more important than grains, fruits, legumes, etc.” I’m simply saying we aren’t eating enough vegetables!

If you are any kind of healthy food enthusiast at all, I’m sure you can name half a dozen qualities that vegetables bring to the table. Fiber. Phytonutrients. Minerals. Vitamins. Chlorophyll (if they’re green). Energy. Life. Crunch.

I’m guilty too. When I’m hungry and getting some leftovers out of my refrigerator, I’m not usually reaching for the steamed kale, the cucumber salad or the stir-fried veggies. I started thinking back over each day and looking at what vegetables I actually did eat. It is never enough. I will find myself going for the other stuff, getting too full and the vegetables come home in the container they were in that morning.

What about a vegetable smoothie? Better than no vegetables at all, but you are going to lose that crunch factor and you won’t get the same benefit from the fiber. Even with high powered blenders that pulverize whole veggies.

Who needs crunch? Everybody.

Why? because chewing is so important! Chewing is the start of digestion. It prepares the food for proper absorption. It signals the stomach for what’s coming down the hatch. It is a key element of great health. My sister and mother used to say, “Eat your liquids and drink your food.” They were right! But hardly anybody chews that well. You watch people and see.

Even the United States Government recommends eating five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables a day. A serving is a cup of raw or cooked vegetables or 2 cups of leafy vegetables. This is fantastic that they are saying this! Never thought I’d see the day! There is no one who wouldn’t benefit from eating even the minimum five servings every single day.

Challenge: For the next week, honestly take a count of how many servings of vegetables you are eating each day. I’ll do the same and we can compare notes.

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Leafy Green for Springtime Clean

Whew! After all those red beets and red beans, I’m ready for a little green food, aren’t you? Spring has just about sprung where I live and I like to step up the green leafy vegetables around this time of year.

I eat green leafies year-round. Love kale, collards, turnip greens and watercress among others. But this time of year calls for some spring cleaning liver-wise and blood-wise. By that I mean it is time to ingest some foods that will help you clean up any gunk you collected last winter.

There is so much to say about eating greens! They’re full of chlorophyl, minerals and phytonutrients! Do you know what those are?  I like this definition from about.com::

“Definition: Compounds in plants (apart from vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients) that have a beneficial effect the body. There are over 10,000 of them, and they have effects such as antioxidant, boosting the immune system, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and cellular repair. Highly colored vegetables and fruits tend to be highest in these chemicals, but tea, chocolate, nuts, flax seeds, and olive oil are all excellent sources as well. Various families of plants tend towards certain families of phytonutrients, for example, orange foods tend to have the caretenoid group.”

Wow! Over 10,000? That’s right. And there’s no way you are going to know all of them and get them through some kind of vitamin pill.

What I’m here to tell you about today is that eating dark leafy greens every day will give your system a cleansing and besides, they are deeeelicious! Now I’m not talking about lettuce. I know for some people “greens” means lettuce. No, I’m talking about the dark leafy ones.

If you aren’t used to dark leafy greens I would suggest starting with the sweeter tasting ones like kale or collard greens. If you want to be more adventurous, get into the slightly bitter tasting ones such as watercress, turnip greens and rapini. Or, for a whole hog springtime cleanse-o-rama, get yourself some spring season young dandelion greens!

You can steam ’em, you can boil ’em, you can do all sorts of things to ’em. My favorite way to prepare the more bitter variety is to saute them with olive oil and garlic. Mama Mia!

Start with washed greens, olive oil, garlic and sea salt.

Start with washed greens, olive oil, garlic and sea salt. These happen to be called “rapini” greens.  Cut the greens, heat up some oil, add some garlic and then add the greens and sea salt. Saute these until they are all shiny and slightly wilted but still retain their bright green color.

I like a little lemon zest with my garlic and greens . . uh . . .I mean greens and garlic!

I like a little lemon zest with my garlic and greens . . uh . . .I mean greens and garlic!

Combine eating those greens with some other light grain and vegetable based meals, cut back or eliminate animal foods, and watch the caffeine and alcohol and you’ll be clean and green in no time!