Archive for the tag - vegetables

Do Fruits and Veggies Make You Happy?

happy-face-vegetables-628x363Is there a relationship between the consumption of produce and happiness levels?

According to researchers from University of Warwick’s Medical School, the answer may be yes.

In a study of nearly 14,000 individuals, researchers discovered that more than a third of subjects with high mental well-being consumed five or more daily servings of fruits and vegetables. By comparison, only 7% of individuals who ate one or fewer daily servings of produce reported high happiness levels. As such, the researchers concluded that vegetable consumption was a health-related behavior that was consistently associated with mental well-being in both men and women.

Of course, more research is needed. The study doesn’t clarify if fruits and vegetables make people happier. Or, conversely, if happy people tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. In other words, causation isn’t clear.

With the average American getting just three servings of fruits and vegetables per day, this study can be another potential reason to prioritize your produce!

P.S. For a program that transforms the way you look and feel through the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter!

I Hate Vegetables But I Need To Lose Weight: 5 Tips!

Hey Davey,

Just wondering if you could give me some advice and maybe others who have the same dilemma. How do I lose weight when I do not like fruits and vegetables? Everyone tells me to learn to love them, but I’m 22 and it won’t get any better. For example, I HATE SALAD. What should I do?

Thanks,
Chris

photo-31Hey Chris,

First off, I don’t believe that you hate fruits and vegetables.

I do believe that you think you hate fruits and vegetables, but it’s time to start telling yourself a different story. With so many flavors and with so many different preparation methods, there’s no way that you can truly hate every single combination.

Second, eating veggies isn’t just about losing weight. Regardless of your goals, fruits and vegetables provide essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs. Of course, depending on how you prepare them, vegetables are much less calorie dense than unhealthy foods like pastries, ice cream, chips and fried foods – which can be beneficial if you’re looking to fill up with fewer calories.

Having said that, there a number of ways to improve your veggie habits. Here are some tips:

  1. Add veggies to dishes you already like. If you like pasta, for example, slice up some veggies and add them to the pasta sauce. Find the veggies that you least hate, and start there. It’s also easy to sneak some veggies onto your sandwich. A tomato slice and some sprouts can be a great addition.
  2. Blend them. Though kale might not sound like a tempting option, you may surprised how tasty it is in a smoothie. A quick Google search will yield plenty of healthy smoothie ideas. Add some unsweetened peanut butter and unsweetened almond milk for a base and you’re good to go!
  3. Dress up your salads. Sure, you hate the salads you’ve tried. But try something different. There are thousands of different salad dressing recipes and a million ways to top your salad. Add on a few slices of prosciutto and avocado. I love topping my salad with homemade croutons; it makes such a difference. Cube up some wheat bread and toss it with garlic powder, olive oil, dried parsley, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven until crispy and add to your salad. It’s a huge upgrade.
  4. Tune in to texture. Some of your vegetable dislike may be due to the texture. Recognize that your can control the texture through preparation. Stir fried veggies have a different texture versus baked veggies versus grilled veggies versus raw veggies. It might be texture – and not taste – that has turned you off.
  5. Take the vegetable challenge. Open your mind by making the following commitment: Try at least one new fruit or vegetable each week. You may hate most of them, but you may also end up finding one or two that you actually like.

In my opinion, a blanket statement of hating fruits and vegetables is cheating yourself from some awesome culinary experiences. I suspect that your dislike of vegetables is less about taste buds and more about perspective. And, of course, you have control over your perspectives. Stop feeding yourself this tired old story and stop defining yourself in opposition to foods that support not just your goals, but also a healthy and balanced life.

Love,
Davey

P.S. To transform the way you look and feel through the foods you eat, download Davey Wavey’s Insanely Easy Guide to Eating Smarter – and get started today!

Are Fake Meats Healthy?

Dear Davey,

I recently became a vegetarian for health and moral reasons and have been eating a lot of fake meat products. Though they are vegetarian, the products try to mimic the taste and texture of real meat. From a health perspective, are these fake meat products any better?

From,
Jeff

fakemeatDear Jeff,

It’s true that plant-based diets are associated with a number of health benefits – and that most Americans would be well served by cutting their red meat consumption. But not all vegetarian foods are created equal.

When we talk about fake or mock meat products, we’re not talking about tofu or tempeh. We’re talking about vegetarian foods that are specifically created to imitate the look and feel of real meat. Like tofurkey, fakin’ bacon, chick’n and veggie burgers that are intended to taste like meat.

On the one hand, mock meats can be helpful when transitioning to a vegetarian diet. They’re like a stepping stone and can serve as a gateway to a plant-based diet, especially if and individual is craving the flavor or texture of meat. And, because mock meats are entirely vegetarian, there’s no guilt or possibility of animal cruelty.

On the other hand, mock meats really aren’t that healthy. Let’s compare real chicken to the vegetarian product, chick’n. Real chicken is a healthy, lean meat that contains only one ingredient… chicken. Chick’n, conversely, contains the following ingredients:

PATTY – WATER, SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SOY PROTEIN ISOLATE, TEXTURED WHEAT PROTEIN (WHEAT GLUTEN, WHEAT FLOUR), CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF WHEAT GLUTEN, YEAST EXTRACT, METHYLCELLULOSE, SALT, SPICE (CONTAINS BLACK PEPPER), NATURAL FLAVOR (NON-MEAT), HYDROLYZED SOYBEAN AND CORN PROTEIN, HYDROLYZED CORN GLUTEN, ONION POWDER, SUGAR, SUCCINIC ACID, THIAMINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1). BATTER – WATER, WHEAT FLOUR, YELLOW CORN FLOUR, SALT. BREADING – WHEAT FLOUR, DEXTROSE, SALT, DRIED YEAST, CARAMEL COLOR, YELLOW CORN FLOUR, EXTRACTIVES OF PAPRIKA AND ANNATTO FOR COLOR. BROWNED IN CORN OIL.

Yikes.

Masquerading plants as meat takes a lot of processing. Fake meat products often contain many artificial ingredients and preservatives, lots of sodium and sometimes MSG. From a purely health perspective, you’re better off eating chicken.

The reality is, mock meat products are never going to taste like real meat. Though I’m not a vegetarian, I’ve tried many of these products. At best, they’re mediocre. And I don’t think anyone wants to settle for a mediocre diet.

Instead of disguising plants as meat, why not enjoy the delicious flavor that fruits, beans, nuts, vegetables and grains have to offer? Processed vegetables will never taste as good as a burger – but a burger will never taste as good as a fresh, colorful and delicious salad! Rather than settle for a veggie burger, grill up a flavorful portobello mushroom topped with tomatoes, avocado and lettuce. Sandwich the mushroom between two whole wheat buns.

Rather than eat fake meat products that fall short, celebrate vegetables and grains and fruits for the delicious and nourishing foods that they are.

Love,
Davey

Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables… Or Die!

happy-fruit-and-vegetable-face-rosemary-calvertWhen your mom told you to eat your fruits and vegetables, you probably didn’t realize it’s a matter of life and death. And according to a new study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, it is. Sort of.

For the study, researchers examined 65,000 English adults at least 35 years of age. For an average of 7.7 years, the dietary habits and health status were monitored for each participant. Variables that could affect the outcome – like age, sex, BMI, alcohol intake, physical activity, smoking, etc. – were all taken into account and controlled.

The findings were striking.

According to researchers, individuals who ate seven or more servings of produce were 42% less likely to die from any cause during the study. Specifically, these individuals were 25% less likely to die from cancer and 31% less likely to die from heart disease when compared to people who ate fewer fruits and vegetables. Moreover, the decrease in mortality risk was linked more strongly with vegetables than with fruits.

Eating healthy – and getting your servings of fruit and vegetables – isn’t just about looking good in a bathing suit. It’s also about living a long and healthy life. After all, you can’t wear a bathing suit… if you’re dead.

 

Eat Healthy: Find a CSA!

20080127_img_2633As I’ve said before, people tend to eat what they buy. What you put in your kitchen is a pretty good indicator of what you’ll put in your body. As such, it’s important to buy healthy and nourishing foods.

Of course, supermarkets are full of unhealthy choices. When we shop, we’re bombarded with sugary treats, packaged foods and heavily processed items. It can be difficult to resist temptation and stick with wiser choices like whole foods, fruits and vegetables.

Moreover, most of us tend to get into a culinary rut; we end up selecting the same foods week after week. However, a healthy diet is a varied diet. By eating a variety of colorful, healthy foods, we ensure a broader range of nutrients and minimize the risk of deficiencies.

That’s why I love CSAs.

CSA stands for community-supported agriculture. It’s a locally-based economic model of agriculture and food distribution in which a network of individuals supports one or more local farms through a financial pledge. In exchange, members of the CSA receive boxes of produce throughout the season.

Because CSAs are local (unlike supermarkets where produce is flown in from around the world), the boxes of fruits and vegetables reflect the local growing season. From week to week, the produce changes depending on the harvest.

The variety of produce isn’t just beneficial from a nutritional perspective. It also lets you experiment with new recipes and try new flavors. It’s actually a lot of fun… and, because you’ll never get a box full of candy, it becomes very easy to eat healthy.

I’ve already signed up for a CSA here in Los Angeles. But they’re literally all over the entire country. Use this website to find one in your area.

Is Fresh Produce Healthier?

frozen-mixed-vegetablesFresh sounds better than frozen, but is it necessarily true when it comes to fruits and vegetables?

Two separate UK studies were commissioned and carried out by Leatherhead Food Research and the University of Chester. In both studies, researchers examined key nutrient levels three days after storage. In other words, if you pick up fresh and frozen broccoli on Monday, how do the two compare on Thursday? Will the fresh or frozen broccoli be healthier?

After 40 different tests, researchers concluded that nutrient levels were higher in frozen fruits and vegetables 66% of the time.

According to researchers, the nutrient levels in fresh produce decreased during storage – especially in the softer fruits. This decrease wasn’t seen in corresponding frozen fruits and vegetables, disproving the myth that fresh food products are always nutritionally superior. At the very least, frozen produce is nutritionally comparable to fresh produce.

And it makes sense. Frozen produce is picked at the peak of freshness and then flash frozen. This process locks in and preserves the high nutrient levels until consumption.

Moreover, frozen fruits and vegetables also tend to be much cheaper. So really, it’s a win-win situation.

How to Make a Healthier Salad: 7 Tips.

salad3Most Americans don’t eat enough vegetables – but a bountiful, delicious bowl of salad is a great way to get your fix!

Beyond unhealthy toppings and artery-clogging dressings, many salads represent a lost opportunity to load up on essential nutrients. So use today’s tips to get the most out of your salad!

  1. Select dark greens. Did you know that dark, leafy greens are healthier than lighter ones? They’re packed with more nutrients and antioxidants. Kale, spinach, watercress, collard greens, arugula and romaine are all wise choices.
  2. Make your own healthier dressing. Many packaged dressings are loaded in unhealthy fats and sodium – especially if they’re creamy. Experiment with your own, heart-healthy dressings. I like to mix a simple dressing of olive oil, vinegar and seasoning. As an alternative, you can top your salad with lemon juice, avocado, salsa or even a Greek yogurt-based dressing.
  3. Top it with microgreens. I’m a huge fan of microgreens. They’re fresh, packed with flavor and several times richer in nutrients than their full grown counterparts. They also make for a beautiful salad topping!
  4. Make your own croutons. The great thing about making your own croutons is that you know exactly what goes into them. And they taste a million times better than the boxed alternatives. It takes only a few seconds to chop up a some stale whole wheat bread, and then toss it all with some olive oil, parsley, garlic and other seasonings. Bake the croutons at 350 degrees for 10 – 15 minutes and you’re good to go.
  5. Add some vegetables. Don’t stop with tomatoes. Add in a rainbow of other vegetables like peppers, beets, carrots, red cabbage, raw broccoli, raw green beans, onions, mushrooms and so on. Get creative. Even if you’re not a fan of vegetables, you may find them much more stomach-able in a salad.
  6. Mix in some beans. Though beans get a bad rap, they’re a healthy and delicious salad addition. Full of fiber, antioxidants and protein, some of my favorites include soybeans, black beans and pinto beans.
  7. Toss in some lean meat. If your salad is the main course, adding some grilled chicken or fish turns your salad into a meal. Avoid meats that are battered or fried. And remember, a serving of meat is about the same size as a deck of cards – so don’t go overboard!

As something of a salad king, I’ve learned that you really can’t go wrong. Don’t be afraid to experiment and get a little wild. It’s really, really hard to ruin a salad. Just don’t add ketchup.

If you have some healthy salad tips, I’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments below.

 

Is Boiling Vegetables Bad?

steamed-vegetablesThough the government recommends 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day, most of us get less than half that. So any effort to eat more vegetables is a good thing.

But not all cooking methods are created equal. Certainly, deep frying isn’t advisable. Neither is sauteing vegetables in copious amounts of butter. But how does boiling stack up?

Though an obvious improvement over grease or butter, boiling vegetables isn’t always the best route. If you place veggies that are high in water-soluble vitamins (like vitamin B, vitamin C or folate) into hot water, the vitamins will leach out. If you’re making a soup, then it’s no big deal; you’ll be consuming the vitamin-rich broth. But if you’re draining the water and then eating the vegetables, you’re losing much of the benefit.

In fact, a Danish study looked a the effect of boiling on broccoli. Because it’s high in water-soluble vitamin C, researchers discovered that boiled broccoli retains only 45% – 64% of it’s initial vitamin C content. Though the numbers will vary from vegetable to vegetable, it’s clear that boiling can have a significant negative impact on the foods we eat.

So what’s the smarter alternative?

The same study found that steamed broccoli, on the other hand, kept 83% – 100% of it’s vitamin C content. Rather than leaching out into the water, steamed vegetables retain the majority of their vitamin content. And if you don’t have a steamer, I once learned a simple trick. Fill a pot with an inch of water, and then place two inches worth of old forks at the bottom. Place the veggies atop the forks and let the water boil! Alternatively, you can always steam veggies in the microwave.

The bottom line: Almost all of us need to eat more vegetables. And steamed veggies are the best option for maximized health benefits.

10 Tips to Eat More Vegetables.

Did you know that March is national nutrition month? It’s a good reminder to take a critical look at what’s on our plate – and the changes we can all make to support a healthier lifestyle.

At ChooseMyPlate.gov, the government recommends dividing your plate into the following combination of diary, protein, fruits, vegetables and grains. Notice, there’s not a spot for bonbons or ring dings.

Of the five food groups, vegetables tend to get the least amount of love. But they’re also super important – and so to get more vegetables in your diet, nutritionists recommend the following 10 tips:

  1. Discover fast ways to cook. Making a quick lunch or fast dinner? Cooking fresh or frozen vegetables in the microwave makes a quick addition to any meal. Instead of opting for potato chips or French fries, steam up some veggies!
  2. Be ahead of the game. Cut or slice up vegetables in advance – and in bulk. Store them in your fridge, and add them to your salads and dishes as needed. It’s convenient and it saves time.
  3. Choose vegetables rich in color. I love brightening my plate with colorful, delicious vegetables. They’re not only beautiful and vibrant, but also full of vitamins and minerals. Try tomatoes, green peppers, yellow peppers, collard greens and more!
  4. Check the freezer aisle. It’s true: Frozen veggies are just as nutritious as fresh vegetables. And they’re flash frozen at the peak of freshness to maximize flavor. Since they’re frozen, you don’t have to worry about the vegetables spoiling – and it cuts down on waste. I love frozen peas, broccoli and cauliflower to name a few.
  5. Stock up on veggies. Canned vegetables, in addition to fresh or frozen options, can be another smart choice. Just pay attention to the labels for the sodium content.
  6. Make your garden salad glow with color. Salads can be exciting! Toss in some black beans, red peppers, radishes, watercress, avocados and more! They all make delicious and nutritious additions.
  7. Sip on some vegetable soup. You can also get your vegetables in soup form. Tomato, squash or vegetable soups are all wise choices. Look for “reduced sodium” or “low sodium” varieties.
  8. While you’re out. Instead of the usual fried side dish, ask for a salad or an order of steamed vegetables.
  9. Savor the flavor of seasonal veggies. To save money, buy vegetables that are in season from the grocery store or farmer’s market. Freeze any extras and steam up as needed!
  10. Try something new. There are tons of great vegetables out there that may be new to you. Don’t be afraid to expand your horizons. You can Google great recipes online.

If you have any other tips for increasing the vegetables in your diet, share them in the comments below! And happy national nutrition month to you!

The Davey Wavey Salad.

The Davey Wavey Salad

I have a confession to make: Unless they’re deep fried, battered and smothered in cheese, I’m not a huge fan of vegetables. While I love the way veggies nourish my body, I don’t always love the way they taste.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to incorporate more veggies into my diet is through a salad. They’re fast, easy and versatile – just like me! Innuendos aside, salads are a great solution for my fellow lachanophobes (yes, that’s the technical term for people that are afraid of vegetables).

The number of different salad combinations is infinite – but through trial and error, I’ve found a recipe that is reasonably healthy and completely delicious. With the hopes of it inspiring you to eat your veggies, I’ve decided to share it with you.

Here’s what you need:

  • A few cups of dark, leafy greens (darker greens = healthier choice)
  • 1 vine ripened tomato, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 pepper, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed
  • Few slices of red onion
  • 8 Kalamata olives
  • 2 slices of prosciutto, cut
  • Sprinkle of feta cheese
  • Top with unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil and vinegar dressing

In a large bowl, simply assemble the various ingredients – then top with feta cheese, seeds and dressing. The avocado provides the salad with plenty of moisture, so you really won’t need a lot of dressing. Of course, you can supplement any of the ingredients to suit your taste buds and any seasonal produce. If you’d rather make the salad a meal, scrap the prosciutto and top with a grilled, protein-rich chicken breast.