Top | The Vegetable Challenge

My first day of veg

(post, James Berry)

OK, so I'm going to be taking this challenge, hoping to find my way to more vegetables. My intent is to blog each day, or nearly each day, about my experiences with the challenge: what I ate, what I found challenging, what I learned.

It's not that the last several years of working on Culinate have been without vegetables. In fact, there have been lots of them, and I've learned to prepare them in (some) new ways. But this challenge brings us up against the cold facts: Did I get five helpings of vegetables? Did I get at least two-and-a-half cups of vegetables? 

While I've been eating vegetables for years, I do wonder how I'll measure up against such cold judgment. I guess we'll see.

My first day on the challenge started out with an absolute dearth of vegetables: French toast for breakfast was a real treat, but there was not a vegetable to be found on the menu. I'm guessing breakfast is going to be a good place to get in that additional couple of cups of fruit, but I am very interested to see where I can fit vegetables into my breakfast regimen. Breakfast salads? Ack. I'm not sure I'm ready. Please let me know if you've got ideas.

[%image bento float=left width=150 caption='Bento box with a few pickled veggies.']

[%image carrots float=right width=150 caption='Beautiful carrots.']

In a single paragraph I've skated past the demands of breakfast, and I'm now gliding in to lunch, another vegetable-challenged time. Wider awake, I face the challenge . . . and take the easy way out: a bento box with chicken, rice, and precious little veg to be found. Fortunately my bento guy is not just about protein and carbs; he puts some pickled cucumbers and carrots into the box. They're my first vegetables of the day, if only perhaps a quarter-cup. A small victory, but hardly inspiring, nor likely to get me to the two-and-a-half-cup finish line. 

Thinking quickly (and in need of a walk to relieve the stress of the morning), I trek to our local grocery store and purchase some lovely, local carrots. I eat two, congratulating myself on an additional cup of veg matter. Not bad: exercise, stress relief, and vegetables in a single 10-minute outing!

I'm interested to see how (and if) the Vegetable Challenge helps me to replace meat products with non-meat products. I'm not a vegetarian by any means, and I do like meat, but I can go for a number of meals before the need for animal protein calls to me. One of my goals in the challenge is to increase the proportion of vegetables in my diet, while reducing that of meat — a ratio that is probably not only healthier but certainly better for the Earth (that place we call home).

[%image tuna-medley float=right caption='Albacore tuna, sauté of squash, tomato salad.' width=300]

So dinner comes along, probably my last chance to get in that last cup of vegetables. Ah, glorious dinner, time of vegetables, especially in the summer and fall. Dinner is a zingy appetizer of Pimientos de Padrón peppers (absolute heaven on Earth: I promise a recipe soon), followed by a sauté of squash, sweet peppers, and leeks; a Caprese salad with tomato, basil, and mozzarella; and some grilled tuna. I think I've made it. Dessert, anyone?

|!The vegetable scorecard||
|Pickled vegetables|¼ cup|
|Carrots|1 cup|
|Pimientos de Padrón|½ cup|
|Squash medley|1 cup|
|Caprese salad|¾ cup|
|!Total|!3½ cups|

carrots, l

bento, l

tuna-medley, l

reference-image, l