Celebrating nutrition on National Vegetable Day

National Vegetable Day

Eat Your Veggies

There are people out there—and perhaps you’re one of them—who claim to genuinely hate vegetables. This genuinely makes me sad. Not only are vegetables packed with nutrients that our body needs to function optimally, they can also be extremely delicious. That’s why I love days like today—National Vegetable Day; I get to share why I love these colorful foods so much.

Have you had a medley of roasted vegetables, cooked in olive oil, rosemary, thyme and garlic? Spinach or kale cooked in ghee and garlic? Steamed broccoli smothered in grass-fed Kerrygold herbed butter? Crisp, Romaine lettuce, fresh peppers, tomatoes and carrots mixed with olive oil, macadamia nut oil, Balsamic vinegar and feta cheese? Throw together a medley of vegetables in a kabob on the grill? If not, you’re missing out on some of my favorite ways to enjoy vegetables.

A question for veggie haters: Are these offensive to you because of taste, texture, bad childhood memories? Or have you convinced your brain and palate into thinking that something good for you must taste bad? Admittedly, there are some vegetables I don’t personally have a taste for, like turnips. If Brussels sprouts are undercooked or overcooked, it’s tough for me to get them down. However, there is such a huge diversity of vegetables from which to find your favorites.

Have a taste for the sweet? Try sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, butternut squash or peas in a pod. Do you lean more toward savory? Try broccoli, avocado, cucumbers, asparagus, raw onion or parsnips. Vegetables not only please the palate, they can promote better health.

Dr. Terry Wahl, a clinical professor of internal medicine, famously reversed the degeneration of multiple sclerosis with nutrition, of which vegetables were a major component. In her TEDx talk “Minding Your Mitochondria,” Wahls describes how a diet rich in vegetables helped her transition from being in a tilt-recline motor wheelchair to biking in the Canadian Rockies a year later.

She recommends at least nine cups of local, organic vegetables daily, exceeding the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendation of three to five servings a day. Dr. Wahl’s protocol consists of three cups of leafy greens, three cups of sulfur-rich vegetables and three cups of three different bright colored vegetables (and fruits). She said having three cups of vegetables is the equivalent to a dinner plate stacked high with vegetables.

Leafy greens include spinach, Romaine lettuce, chard, collards or kale. Leafy greens are packed with vitamins B, A, C, K and minerals. Wahl says that kale “has the most nutrition per volume of any plant.”

Vitamin B protects brain cells and mitochondria. Vitamins A and C support immune cells. “Vitamin K keeps your blood cells and bones healthy, and its minerals are co-factors for hundreds of different enzymes,” said Wahl. “Having a plateful of leafy greens dramatically decreases the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration—the major cause of blindness.”

Wahl also recommends having three cups of sulfur-rich veggies per day, as sulfur supports the brain, mitochondria and toxin removal in the liver and kidneys. Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, mushrooms and asparagus are all sulfur-rich.

Lastly, Wahl suggests having three cups of brightly colored vegetables, representing three different colors, daily. These vegetables are packed with powerful antioxidants that also support brain cells, mitochondria, retina and the removal of toxins. Red beets, orange carrots and yellow peppers are a great mix of antioxidant-rich vegetables.

“Committing to having nine heaping cups of these great foods before you have grains, dairy and potations, you’ll have far less food allergies and food sensitivities,” said Wahl. Gluten and casein intolerances are linked to eczema, asthma, allergies, arthritis, chronic headache, chronic fatigue and pain, digestive disorders and behavioral problems.

All these sound like reasons enough to try your hand at preparing vegetables in a way you’ll enjoy! For more ideas on preparing tasty, vegetable side dishes visit thekitchn.com

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