Top | The Vegetable Challenge

Warming up to vegetables

(post, James Berry)

In taking The Vegetable Challenge, I've noticed something interesting: As long as I really concentrate on the challenge when planning my meals, meeting the challenge requirements is no problem, and very rewarding. 

But if my attention lapses, and I let meals come to me a little more randomly, it can be hard to get in enough vegetables. (Witness this last Saturday, when I filled up on too much pasta and came up short for my daily veg allotment.)

This single-minded focus on vegetables, of course, is the method behind the madness of the challenge, which encourages us to fixate on vegetables in the hope that we'll carry many of these habits forward into our everyday meal plans. I sense the impact of this, at least with respect to the recent  The Whole-Grain Challenge, which continues to have a strong influence on my daily eating.

[%image reference-image float=right width=400 caption="Heirloom carrots." credit="Photo © Culinate"]

Yesterday was a banner day for the vegetables. At breakfast I succumbed to oat groats with peaches (spoils of the aforementioned The Whole-Grain Challenge), but lunch shook out the rugs with homemade sandwiches of generous portions of tomato, cucumber, avocado, and a small amount of turkey.

Dinner was an absolute ode to vegetables, the bounty of a trip to the farmers' market over the weekend: shell beans cooked with onions and garlic, braised baby artichokes, heirloom carrots, dandelion greens sautéed with bacon, some exotic (and edible) mushrooms sautéed in olive oil and dressed with lemon juice, and a small amount of pasta on the side.

Something I've noticed about my most successful vegetable days is that meals are focused on the vegetables themselves, with just enough starch and/or meat protein to add filling and flavor. That miniscule slice of turkey in my sandwich at lunch and those small chunks of bacon in the dandelion greens at dinner, while pointedly less meaty than a Quarter Pounder, were sufficient to add the flavor my carnivore's brain expects, while keeping the meal centered where the health experts say it belongs: on the vegetables.

How'd I do?

|!Vegetable score card||
|Sandwich veg|1 cup|
|Shell beans|1 cup|
|Artichokes|¾ cup|
|Carrots|1 cup|
|Dandelion greens|¾ cup|
|!Total|!4½ cups|

reference-image, l