Several years ago, Jessica Seinfeld, wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, wrote a book called Deceptively Delicious. I bought it, hoping to find creative ways to add more vegetables to my family's diet. I would like to say I needed the recipes for my kids, but I, myself, struggle to get the recommended daily servings of the healthy stuff.
When I was a kid, I was taught that we need five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. That was a stretch for me, but I could do it, if I ate a lot of fruit throughout the day, and snuck in a veggie at supper. I don't mind the fruit, but I see veggies as more of an inconvenience; not a dietary staple.
|Photo Credit: IMDb|
The only way my mom could get me to eat my spinach was to remind me the only way I could get as strong as Popeye was to eat my spinach. Spinach was so yucky to me when I was little, but I loved Popeye. Somehow I managed to choke it down, but I wasn't very happy about it. I'm not one of those people who naturally loves vegetables. I eat them, just about all of them, but I don't love them.
It seems I am not alone. One of our friends shared this on Facebook not too long ago:
"My Google search of "how to hide veggies in meals" keeps assuming I'm trying to hide them from kids. Um, excuse me, Google, I need to try to hide them from myself. I scowled at some celery today." (Thank you, Julie, for making me laugh, and also for making me feel a little more normal.)
Most of you know I have embarked on a healthier eating plan, the 21 Day Fix. Of course, fruits and vegetables are on the menu.
Guess how many of each. Go ahead, guess. I wasn't thrilled that I'm expected to eat more vegetables than fruits. Trying to eat FIVE servings of vegetables is so challenging for me. I don't mind the three fruits, but FIVE veggies?
|My portions for the day on the 21 Day Fix plan, with a caloric goal of 1800-2100.|
5 vegetables, 3 fruits, 5 proteins, 4 carbohydrates, 1 healthy fat, 1 seeds and nuts, 5 oil or nut butter, 13 cups of water.
So this week, I've been trying, extra hard to eat all of the veggies. Initially, at the end of each day, it wasn't uncommon for my little chart to show I still had two or three vegetables to go. Before bed? "No, thanks. I'm good." I knew I'd have to try to outsmart myself earlier in the day to be successful at this.
Here are a few things that are working for me: making myself an egg scramble featuring vegetables for breakfast, sneaking veggies in my protein shakes, and substituting vegetables for carbs in casseroles.
Lucky for me, I like eggs. Most mornings, either at first or second breakfast, I will sauté some spinach, or whatever leftover vegetables we have in the fridge, and then scramble a couple of eggs into the mixture. (Did you notice I mentioned first and second breakfast? One of the BEST things about the 21 Day Fix is I am rewarded for eating like a hobbit!)
|Actually, I eat about six times a day, but if I save my yummy shake for later in the evening, sometimes I actually do|
have dinner AND supper, but it feels like dessert!
Now, I love a good protein shake. I've had some amazing concoctions lately: pumpkin spice, caramel apple, Samoas (think caramel-chocolate-coconut Girl Scout cookies), and Reese's treat (peanut butter and chocolate). I look forward to having something sweet, cold, and creamy every day. When I considered taking any of those yummy recipes and mucking them up with spinach, I just wrinkled my nose in disgust.
There was a time that adding spinach to my protein shake didn't bother me. My older son does it every single day; he puts blueberries and spinach in his blender with his protein powder. I used to do it, too, but for some reason, the texture bugs me right now.
|"If you eat your spinach, you can have dessert." Yes, I play games with myself.|
So I made a deal with myself. I told myself that if I put spinach in half of the shake, I could have the other "untainted" half for dessert. Yes, I bargain with myself like you would a two-year-old. And you know what? It works for me. I chug down my spinach-rich shake, and then I savor my spinach-less version like a rich dessert.
When I make the pumpkin spice shake, I can actually sneak in two veggies. The pumpkin makes the shake smooth and creamy, and I don't mind it at all. I just have to add more liquid so it's not too thick.
The other tactic I'm using is experimenting with recipes that substitute vegetables for carbs. My friends Sharmel and Sharen are always trying new recipes like this, and I have enjoyed pizza, enchiladas, and spaghetti this way!
Admittedly, the pizza "crust" is made of blended cauliflower, and the enchiladas are made with thinly sliced zucchini, and the spaghetti is made with zoodles (zucchini noodles), but I don't mind at all. I'd rather save my carb portions to enjoy a slice of whole wheat bread or some oatmeal.
|A single serving of enchiladas filled up a small loaf pan. This is one of my favorite recipes now!|
These things are working for me, but I am searching for more ways to eat "deceptively delicious" meals. Knowing I would rather not stare down a full plate of salad, do you you have any good ideas of how I can eat more veggies each day? I am open to suggestions, and appreciate your input!