The Ideal Plate

Well, it looks like the pyramids have finally taken up their rightful place in ancient Egypt where they belong, freeing the USDA to adopt a new icon for it’s dietary guidelines.  The ideal plate, called “My Plate”, is split four ways (fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins), with a glass of dairy by its side, and is coupled with a very clear message to American consumers: eat less, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water and less sugary drinks.

With obesity at an all time high in this country (70% of American adults are overweight or obese) it’s about time we take a stand.  What, and how much we eat is of national concern and if we continue down this path every citizen will have to carry the burden, whether fat or thin.  The estimated cost is $147 billion per year, and equals 9% of the medical expenditures in this country.

Given the magnitude of the problem, we are inclined to follow a practice of eating vegetables for 50% of our plate.  It’s not that we are against fruit, but sometimes it’s easier to reach for the sugary treat than to add a salad to a meal.  Nevertheless, we applaud the USDA for broadcasting an important message to the American people: eat more fruits and vegetables.  If we did that, we’d be a healthier (and happier) nation, fast.

We know how hard it is to eat vegetables every day, with every meal, and we are regularly challenged by this endeavor.  To help us succeed more often, we make it our business to live by one simple rule: vegetables as the main dish, everything else as a side. We’ve compiled a list of tips for getting vegetables into your day (and recipes to guide you).  And remember, if you think color, you’re on the right track.

  • Eat a salad at least once a day.  And make sure it has vegetables in addition to lettuce.  Think broadly: fennel, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, snap peas and celery all make great additions.
  • Add vegetables to your breakfast. We know it’s a challenge, but give it a try.  Add last night’s roasted sweet potato, squash or carrot to your yogurt, put a few leafy greens into your banana and berry smoothie, or skip the fries and get a salad with your omelet instead.  It’s not as hard as it sounds.
  • We’ve said it before, we will say it again: join a CSA, and commit to eating everything that comes in the box.  Sometimes three varieties of radish present a challenge, but you’d be surprised how creative you get when your refrigerator is full of these unique vegetables.
  • Make soup at least once a week.  Vegetable soups are great hot or cold, a big pot will last for two to three meals, and all of your vitamins are right there in the bowl.
  • Drink more fresh vegetable juices.  Many health food and Whole Foods markets have a juice bar onsite.  Grab a green juice to go to boost your daily vegetable intake.
  • Bulk up on low-caloric but still nutrient-rich veggies such as: asparagus, beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, peppers, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes and turnips.
  • Eat less familiar vegetables, or vegetables you don’t know how to prepare. Buy some Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac, or okra and look up a recipe online. If you’re stuck let us know.  We’re in this together and we’d love to experiment with a new vegetable recipe for you.
  • Eat more low sugar fruits such as strawberries, grapefruits, and avocados, to balance the sweet bananas, peaches and apples that are so delicious to snack on.
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