Why You Should Eat More #Veggies

I'm going to mom you right now and ask you if you're eating enough vegetables. Do you see my raised eyebrow? That's me not believing your answer. Shame on you for lying to Sugar Mama!

My style of mom-ing is of the persuasive persuasion, so rather than force feed you the information, I'm going to appeal to your vanity. Here are three reasons you should be eating more veggies, as well as a few suggested servings for getting your greens.

1: Veggies Make You Beautiful

People always ask me... they say, "Sugar, how the heck do you stay so damn beautiful?" And before I can answer, I wake up. If I were to stay asleep and answer my dream fans' questions, I would have to tell them that it's two things: Drinking lots of water and eating plenty of leafy greens and veggies. 

That healthy glow on your face is simply evidence of how healthy you are on the inside. That's not to say that you should toss out your moisturizers and masques. But you can help nature along by eating a diet rich in vegetables. Cartenoids, a type of phytonutrient, can be found in vegetables like carrots, pumpkins, squash and green leafy vegetables. Those Cartenoids create the "glow" on your skin that makeup can never quite duplicate.

2: Veggies Will Get You to Your Goal Weight

The number one mistake I see people make (and I'm guilty of this, too) is eating too many fruits when looking to lose weight. It seems like the right thing to do, right? "Fill up on Fruits and Veggies" sounds like sound advice, and it is, but nobody tells you to limit the fruit and up the intake of the veggies.

Fruits like oranges and bananas are actually really high in fructose. Eating more than two servings of fruit can have a disastrous effect on reaching weight loss goals. Vegetables, on the other hand, are bursting with as many nutrients as fruit, but are overall lower in fructose. AND... they're high in fiber, so you'll feel full. 

Speaking of...

3: Veggies are High in Fiber

Fiber is something that we all need more of, and veggies have tons of the stuff, so if you find that you're not "going" at least once a day, you may just need to up your veggie intake. In other words, they'll clean you out. 

It’s said that an accumulation of five to 20 pounds of fecal matter is not uncommon in the western population. Over the years, these deposits increase and seep into the blood stream. This is when symptoms of illness arise. Think about it... if It's your body's most obvious way of removing waste and toxins, and that removal isn't happening, you're holding all that junk in your body. You're literally full of crap. 

Side Note: If that nugget of wisdom doesn't get you to eat more veggies, I CAN'T HELP YOU!!!

Now for a few examples of how I add more veggies to my family's lunches.

GREEN EGGS AND HAM

Here's a fun one that kids LOVE. It's a Dr. Seuss themed meal that includes, what else, Green Eggs and Ham. The green eggs are actually quite easy to make. Just boil eggs as you would. Once they're done, take out the yokes and mix with spinach in a food processor. They yokes will pick up the green color fairly quickly. I didn't blend the ingredients too long, but a few more pulses and the spinach disappears into the eggs.

LEAFY AND SWEET GREENS

The long leaves of Romaine in this lunch do two things: They keep the savory chicken away from the sweet muffin and the soft popcorn, AND they can be used as boats to eat the chicken pieces with when it's lunch time.

What you don't see are the veggies packed in the GardenLites Chocolate Muffin. These muffins are a great way to satisfy that sweet craving while still getting more veggies in your tummy. They're made with fresh zucchini and carrots. Not a fan of chocolate? GardenLites also makes a tasty Blueberry Oat muffin!

BEETS AND BITES

I have a hard time paying $10 or more for lettuce and veggies, so I've taken to packing my salads when I'm on the go. It ends up costing me just a couple of dollars and I don't have to waste time looking for parking or standing in line. Packed in this salad box is a big mound of red leaf lettuce, roasted beets in Dijon Champagne dressing, carrots, and Veggie Bites from GardenLites. 

About GardenLites -

Garden Lites offers foods made with clean/simple ingredients, but go a step further to deliver the nutrition consumers are seeking. As pioneers in this movement, Garden Lites is bringing solutions that meet the next stage in the ever evolving consumer definition of healthy food – delicious veggie-rich foods. They're products are not only filled with veggies, but are also gluten-free, nut-free, and dairy-free! You can find them in the freezer section at your local Costco.

GardenLites boxes.jpg

Enjoy!

Cut the Crappy Kid Menus

Dining out is something that the Joneses like to do. Maybe a little too much. Some nights, it's just Mr. Jones and me, but we don't always opt to leave the kids home. They deserve a nice night out, too, right? Barring the occasional refereeing that comes from eating in or out with kids, enjoying a nice meal as a family is usually a pleasant experience for us. Except for one thing...

Crappy Kid Menus

While my husband and I usually get to choose from a fine selection of menu items, our kids are given the limited meal options of grilled cheese, pizza, peanut butter & jelly, or a bowl of pasta with butter. These meals (save the pasta) are usually served with french fries. It doesn't really seem to matter whether it's a nice restaurant or a casual hangout, most places don't stray from the high carb, high fat meal options for kids. I've asked chefs why they do this and they all seem to have the same reason. They put menu items that are "safe" for keeping kids happy so that mom and dad can enjoy a night out.

[Insert picture of little terrorists holding parents evenings hostage if they don't get their PB&J, dammit!]

What we usually end up doing is ordering a substantial appetizer that can serve as a meal for each of the kids, have them split an adult entree, or share a sushi roll with a cup of miso soup each. It's not that my kids are food snobs and don't like eating the crappy kids menu items. They'd pick pizza and a bowl of pasta every time if I let them. But personally, I think it's a waste of calories and money to order those items.

Kids Deserve Better

Recently, I started noticing a trend of restaurants that are serving a broader menu for kids. I wonder if it's because more and more parents are doing what we do or if the chefs have decided to treat the kids that they serve like real people with real appetites for good food. Either way, it's nice to see better menu options at places like the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay.

The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay (located just minutes from Sea World) has launched a healthy kids menu created by 11 year old cooking phenom, Haile Thomas and renowned chef and health food pioneer, Alice Waters.

Waters, known for her culinary philosophy that maintains cooking should be based on fresh, organic, and seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally (all things that are important to me when I'm cooking for my own family), worked with Hyatt to develop a full organic meal offering including a salad, chicken entrée and a dessert.

“All children deserve to eat real food,” said Alice Waters. “I wanted to do a small, three course meal, within the context of Hyatt’s initiative, that could be sourced exclusively from organic farms across the country. Of course it’s about taste and ripeness and seasonality—but it’s bigger than that, too: it’s about supporting the people who are taking care of the land for our future generations.”

Menu items include:

  • Romaine Lettuce Hearts, Carrot Curls with Lemon Vinaigrette for Dipping
  • Grilled Chicken with Pesto Sauce, Roasted Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes
  • Strawberry and Orange Slices served with a Sweet Juice in a Real Orange Cup

I hope more and more restaurants add better menu items for kids to enjoy. If enough parents ask for the items, maybe the chefs will start to think beyond "safe" foods. To echo what Ms. Waters said, kids deserve better in a dining experience and meal choices when eating out with their parents.

If you can't get out to San Diego and want to make a yummy meal that the kids will love at home, try this recipe from the above menu:

Grilled Chicken w/ Pesto Sauce, Roasted Potatoes and Cherry Tomatoes

grilled chicken hyatt waters organic kids menu

grilled chicken hyatt waters organic kids menu

Ingredients: 4 oz. Grilled Chicken Breast 4 tbsp Olive Oil 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard 1 tbsp Thyme leaves, fresh 1 ea Medium Garlic Clove, grated 1 pinch Kosher Salt 5 ea Roasted Potatoes 1 ea Grilled Cherry Tomato Skewer

1 1/2 ea Yukon Gold Potatoes 3 tbsp Olive Oil 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt

4 ea Cherry Tomatoes 1 tsp Olive Oil 1 pinch Kosher Salt 1 ea Skewer

For the Pesto Sauce: 1 ea Egg Yolk 1/2 tsp Water 1 pinch Kosher Salt 1 1/4 cup Olive Oil 1 ea Garlic Clove 2 cups Basil Leaves 1/2 tsp Lemon Juice 1 tbsp Pesto Sauce

Preparation:

To assemble marinade: Whisk together olive oil, mustard, thyme, and garlic. Place each chicken breast between oiled parchment and pound to 1/3 inch thick. Cover chicken with marinade and season with salt. Grill chicken over a hot fire with the smooth side facing down. Place a grill plate on top of chicken and sear until well marked. Flip chicken and complete cooking.

For the pesto: Place egg yolk in mixing bowl. Add water and salt, whisk together. Slowly drizzle one cup of olive oil into yolk mixture. Place garlic, basil leaves and remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil in food processor. Whisk together with yolk mixture. Add salt and lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate overnight. For the tomatoes: Skewer tomatoes at stem, brush lightly with olive oil and salt. Grill to order on hot fire until tender and slightly blistered.

For the potatoes: Wash potatoes. Cut in half lengthwise. Toss potatoes in olive oil and salt and place in pan. Roast in a convention oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, until tender and golden. Plate chicken, tomato skewer, potatoes and add a dollop of pesto sauce.

Enjoy!

WTH Wednesday: Force Feeding "Good" Food

I was shocked when I heard this. So I ran to my computer and googled the words "state employee lunch nuggets" and found that my ears were not deceiving me.

This is sad, but apparently, true.

A state employee was rifling through a child's lunch to make sure that it was up to USDA standards. According to the school, because the lunch packed at home was bereft of a veggie, they had to throw the child's lunch out and replace it with something they deemed healthier:

Chicken Nuggets.

I'm not even kidding.

ARTICLE: Preschooler's Homemade Lunch Replaced by Cafeteria "Nuggets"

When I posted this on Google+, someone comment included a reference to Jamie Oliver's nugget making fiasco. A friend told me that at the end, after seeing how gross the nugget-making process was, kids were still willing to eat the nuggets. One child asked the question, "What if you're really hungry?"

That's the sad side of this story. There are kids that aren't getting proper nutrition outside of a state school. Either their parents don't have enough money and resort to cheap drive-thru meals to survive, or they just do it because it's easier than preparing a healthy meal. I'm not going to judge. I've resorted to McDonald's for the very same reasons, (most recently, this morning) to get a pancake breakfast because we were running too late to make breakfast at home. I did, however, pack them a healthy lunch similar to the lunch I packed yesterday for Valentine's Day:

If that would've been tossed and replaced by nuggets from a school cafeteria, I would have lost my marbles!!

I'm not going to say you are an evil person for ever feeding your kids nuggets. I WILL say that a state employee inspecting a child's lunch and deeming what that child had as insufficient, tossing it, then replacing it with a chicken nugget lunch is unbeleivable! As many of my friends pointed out,  this child could have had food allergies. Or what if the family is vegan or keeping kosher? Or as the mother pointed out, the child gets her vegetables at home. But I suppose a state employee couldn't really be sure, so just toss the lunch and charge the mom.

Crazy!!

Taking away the fact that the replacement lunch was nuggets, the issue is really that kids lunches are even being inspected in the first place! Sure there are plenty of parents that send their kids to school with crappy lunches, but where does looking out for a few kids turn into monitoring the behaviors and diets of ALL kids?

On Thursday evening, I'll be on a Twitter Chat about the childhood obesity ads in Georgia lead by my pal, Leah Segedie. That's another extreme that I'm sure started out as a well-inentioned idea to keep kids healthy, but has backfired in a very ugly way. We'll be talking about better ways to get kids and families to live healthier lifestyles. I'm definitely going to bring up the mixed message of a school thinking that nuggets are better than a healthy meal that a mom lovingly packed at home. I hope you'll join us.

As a Facebook friend said, "... and so the pendulum swings again to the point of being ridiculous!"

What do you think?