Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fruits and Vegetables, and eating them

According to my nutrition tracker, do you know the recommend amount of fruit I should be eating each day?

It's 2 cups

Did you know the recommend amount of vegetables I should be eating each day?

It's 3 cups

I thought I was close but when I actually had to enter in my normal daily diet to the nutrition counter ...I was a little short...

Maybe a lot short.

Nutritionally speaking I'm missing quite a few cups of fruits and veggies each day. I have spent the last few years working on my health, weight and good-looking-ness (hence the nutrition tracker). My biggest challenge is adjusting the diet, as a child I loved bread and french fries, then I grew into a teenager that loved carbs and deep-frying, then an adult that loves the term "carbo-loading." Until my clothes stopped fitting. Ugh! Adulthood - now I don't have the growing child excuse for eating a whole loaf of bread. Straight... Okay, maybe there was some butter... And honey.

The online nutritional guide is a tool and much cheaper than hiring a personal chef or nutritionist. So far it hasn't suggested anything new but is helping me examine everything I eat and makes suggestions. Step 1 - healthy habits stick if they aren't drastic. Meaning, I've got to start small. Surprisingly, it wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. I added a portion of fruit to breakfast instead of my regular bacon or ham. I added a small salad to my lunch. Instead of chips, bread or chocolate I try to have a piece of fruit in the afternoon (Occasionally chocolate will call my name- loud. Nutritional Tracker (or Nancy True as I like to call her) says that's okay.). Dinner has a lean protein and little less grain, and instead of my standard 1 vegetable I shoot for 2. It's actually getting to be an effort to eat all my food because the calorie count really hasn't gone up but the volume is almost a 1/2 cup more of food at each meal. This is also a good tip for people cutting weight through diet, more food doesn't have to mean more calories. 

Adding a salad to lunch was so easy - mix greens, carrot, tomato and cucumber. If I feel really generous I'll add some avocado and/or an egg. I really love salads, it's fresh and palate cleansing.

But do you ever feel the need to change it up?

I mean, lettuce is great, but it starts to feel old after 3 weeks.
I needed something new.
Something delicious.
Something that still fulfilled my vegetable quota.
Then I also wanted it to be easy to make and easy to transport for work.

Cue Vietnamese Pineapple, Cucumber and Tomato Salad and grand entrance music

Easy- check
Transportable- check
Veggies- check
Delicious- check
Fruit - bonus!
Low-fat- bonus!
No-cook- bonus!

Give it a try, it's completely addicting. I had to portion for my lunch and hide it in the back of the fridge to keep from picking at it and having no lunch. When I finally was able to eat it co-workers wanted to know what that delicious looking salad was, and stared in amazement as I inhaled it all then drank the pineapple/dressing pooled at the bottom afterwards.

Luckily my co-workers find me amusing and not at all socially weird.

Back to the salad, I love it after a few hours in the fridge, the pineapple starts shedding juices and perfumes the whole salad. 

Vietnamese Pineapple, Cucumber and Tomato Salad
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp neutral oil, such as canola (but I only ever have Olive Oil)
1 fresh chili, seeded and minced (I went with 1 Thai chili, but go as hot or as mild as you want)
1 tsp fish sauce (to taste- all brands are varying strength, test if you've never used it before)

1/2 large, fresh pineapple; peeled, cored and cubed
1 medium cucumber, sliced into bite size pieces
2 tomatoes, wedged
1/2 cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup mint, roughly chopped

Start with making your dressing in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Place the garlic on the center of a large cutting board. Sprinkle the salt on top. Using the side of a large knife smash the salt into the garlic until you get a paste. (If you are having a hard time try chopping it into small pieces first). Throw into the large bowl. Add in lime juice and sugar and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in oil and then fish sauce to taste (optional, but I love the stuff).

As you finish chopping everything else up, throw in the bowl. Toss thoroughly. Taste. Try to control yourself from gorging on the whole bowl. Chill until ready to eat.

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