When I look at the way I eat today I have to partly give thanks to the culture I was born into; Israel.
Even though my diet was McDonalds Centric for the first few years of living in America, eventually I came back to my roots; vegetables at most every meal.
Vegetables often fall victim to a busy lifestyle because their shelf life is short or people get overwhelmed when it comes to preparation. Add in spread out families and the loss of traditional food wisdom being passed down from generation to generation and you get a processed food epidemic.
Luckily, with a greater awareness of how food impacts our health and the need to heal our ailing planet, many individuals are rekindling their relationship with plant-based goodies.
Being a strict vegetarian is not a requirement but study after study is clear, even if you consume animal foods it is vital to have veggies around. In fact, eating Vegetable Centric can be life saving by increasing fiber, offering the body more hydration, and balancing out the acidic qualities of meat.
So why dominate your plate with a variety of potent and colorful friendly companions?
- Alkaline & Acid: the first and most important contemplation in the internal chemistry of the body is our alkaline and acid profile. To put it simply, when the internal environment of the body is overly acidic (which occurs from low quality processed foods, over consumption of animal foods, toxic medications, and stress) the body is literally crafting a breeding ground for disease. When the internal environment is more alkaline disease is held at bay and the body can thrive. For example, broccoli, garlic, kale, sea vegetables, pumpkin seeds, and sprouts are more alkaline. Beef, corn chips, chicken, and ham are more acidic. When eating high quality animal foods the key is not to get rid of more acidic foods but instead balance them out with alkalizing foods that will bring the body back to center. If a typical breakfast consists of fried eggs, white toast, sausage and hashed potatoes, the body is in acid overload. The same meal can be upgraded with poached eggs, whole wheat toast, and adding a side of kale, asparagus, salad greens or lightly steamed bok-choy to shift the acid alkaline equation.
- Color Beautiful: the bright diversity of colors in vegetables communicates their high antioxidant properties and variety of vitamins and minerals which fight cancer causing free radicals in the body and help many essential enzymatic processes unfold with ease. Dr. Walter Willet, the chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health writes in his book Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, that eating vegetables can decrease the chances of having a heart attack or stroke, protects against a variety of cancers, lowers blood pressure, and protect the eyes against cataracts. Visit www.disabled-world.com/img/fruitvegetablecolorchart.jpg for a color based chart for fruits and veggies.
- Fiber Power: eating a variety of vegetables contributes to the health promoting effects of fiber, which has impacts on the gastro intestinal tract and other essential systems in the body. Dr. Mark Hyman, author of Ultra Metabolism writes that fiber helps us burn more calories, stay full longer, and helps reduce our appetite. All three benefits occur because whole vegetables foods take longer to break down, provide us with more sustained fuel, and stabilize a potential blood sugar rollercoaster that can occur from fiber deficient foods.
- Food to Body Wisdom: the way many vegetables look actually clues us in to the health benefits that they posses. A walnut resembles the folds of the brain and contains vital neurotransmitters for optimal functioning. Celery looks like bones and contains an ample amount of sodium to help replenish the strength of the skeletal system. Avocados support the health of the womb and cervix while creating hormonal balance. Sweet potatoes resemble the pancreas and help the body stabilize blood sugar.
To include more vegetables in your daily routine get creative, be demanding (and kind) at restaurants for a larger portion of veggies, and experiment with new way to steam, bake, sauté, and eat plant-based foods as is.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Poached eggs, salsa, yeast free rye bread, and steamed spinach.
- Soba noodles, sautéed onions, garlic, kale, sun dried tomato paste, olives, olive oil, and goat cheese.
- Avocado, cucumbers, fresh parsley, squeezed lemon and sea salt on sourdough leavened bread.
- Carrot, daikon, parsnip, ginger, yellow miso soup (add miso when water is not boiling once all your veggies are tender).
- Wild Alaskan salmon, steamed with squeezed lemon, garlic, olive oil, fresh pepper, mushrooms, and mustard greens.
- Salad greens, red pepper, radish, celery, sautéed zucchini and summer squash, sardines, chili flakes, sea salt, olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette.
- Steamed broccoli with a touch of sea salt and grated raw cheese