Before anyone starts saying YUCK, hear me out. One of the biggest obstacles to a healthy eating plan is a lack of fruits or vegetables. So many people still seem to have the taste buds of a small child. You mention eating more fruits or veggies and you get that same wrinkled face you get from a five year facing a plate of green beans.
I was the same way for a long time, and now as often as I can, I not only find ways to add vegetables and fruit to my daily eating but I also like to snack on them.
I am very lucky to live in a very culturally diverse area with many ethnic supermarkets so I get to try a lot of produce I might not have had the chance to try a few years ago. I would like to share a few fruit and vegetables I have tried that you may not have thought of as well as a few ideas on how to painlessly add them to your daily food choices.
One of my favourite recent discoveries is Dragon Fruit. It looks a bit like a kiwi on steroids. They used to be found only in Asian markets but are found now in most mainstream markets. The best way I have found to eat them is to slice one in half and scoop out the flesh. It is a very delicate taste. The texture is also much like a kiwi but the flavour is not as strong. They are also great when you add them to a fresh fruit salad. Use a melon baller to scoop them out into little bite sized bits.
How about Star Fruit? This fruit gets it’s name from the fact that – surprise – it is shaped like a star. Another nice thing is that they don’t need to be peeled. In fact that’s where a lot of the best nutrients is found. They are a citrus fruit and are very high in vitamin C. It has a unique flavour that is a bit like like apple yet citrussy like an orange. These go well with another unusual fruit – the blood orange. They look like a regular orange but the flesh is dark red. The two make a very nice little fruit salad with just the two of them and maybe a little plain yogurt on top.
That is just 2 examples. Next time you go to the supermarket, look around for these or other fruits you haven’t tried before. Go to farmers markets or ethnic markets and look. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either. I remember going into an Asian market and I saw these things that looked like a cross between a coconut and a porcupine. Turns out they are a Durian. Once you break them open, the flesh is very soft and mushy and, in my opinion, smells like feet and doesn’t taste much better. A perfect example of what people call “an acquired taste”.
What about new vegetables? One I really like is broccoflower. It is a cross as you may have guessed – between broccoli and cauliflower. It even tastes a bit like both. I prefer it raw as I do with most vegetables, but it also cooks up nicely. You can steam it or boil it, but be careful in boiling. Like a lot of vegetables, you can end up throwing the best nutrients down the drain if you over cook them. I like steamed veggies or stir fries because it keeps some of the crunch. I hate mushy vegetables (except mashed potatoes).
Another vegetable I really like, especially in stir fries, is Daikon otherwise known as the Chinese Radish. They long and tubular, look a bit like a thinner turnip but really have the taste of a radish. Again, check out your local Asian supermarket for them.
My absolute vegetable to snack on is called Jicama (it’s pronounced HICK-ama). I don’t think I have ever eaten it cooked although I know it can be grilled and it makes good oven fries. What makes it really different is that while it really looks like a turnip, when you cut it open, the flesh is pure white, very moist and very sweet, with a taste best described as pea pods.
I love out this into salads. I shred it or cut it into very small spears and add it to salads. When you are making a summer salad, try adding this wonderfully refreshing vegetable.
So I have introduced you to just a few vegetables and fruits you may not have known about. So how do you sneak them into your diet? Fruits are very easy. Make fruit smoothies for breakfast, or add berries or sliced banana to cereal (hot or cold).
You are saying vegetables for breakfast? How would that work? Try putting some bell pepper into an omelette or scrambled eggs. Add peppers and onions to hash browns.
For lunch, instead of having potato chips on the side, how about an apple or a pear? You could have baby carrots on the side.One reason people don’t like to eat vegetables is they claim they are too much work to prepare. These days you can find all kinds of vegetables already prepared for instant snacking. I have mention baby carrots, but there are also small vegetable-to-go type packs with veggies and usually a dip, but go easy on the dip. We are talking about weight loss remember?
How about a nice vegetable soup for dinner? It is great comfort food in the winter months, and really easy to make. There are TONS of recipes out there. If you can boil water, you can make soup.
How about putting more veggies on a home made pizza? Why home made? Simply more control over the ingredients.
Do you pack a lunch for work or school? Snack sized bags of veggies or put some mushrooms or cucumber on your sandwich. One of my dad’s favourites used to be 2 slices of bread with butter and thinly sliced tomato with some salt and pepper.
Make a small plate of fruit or vegetables with maybe a bit of cheese and you have a healthy snack.
Fruits and vegetables are not scary. Here is a tip I will leave you with. Next time you go shopping for groceries, pick up one new fruit or vegetable and give it a try. A real try – don’t try it once and go Eww it’s a vegetable. Explore farmers markets or Asian or other ethnic markets and ask lots of questions. How do you prepare this? What does it taste like? What does it go best with?
You may be pleasantly surprised! It may be time you let your pallet mature in it’s tastes, and by adding more fruits and veggies to your diet, it will help with the weight loss as you start to change out unhealthy foods for healthy ones.
Until next time, have a healthy and happy day!