This week I am excited to feature a guest post by an amazing healthy living advocate, the awesome Jennifer Espinosa-Goswami. She’s truly an inspiration for all of us walking down the path of enlightened wellness. I hope you enjoy her words of wisdom and motivation!
How to Love Eating your Veggies
“No! I don’t wanna! You can’t make me!”
This was the litany at my dinner table when I was growing up. My poor Mom did everything in her power to get me to eat my vegetables. I didn’t just hate eating my vegetables – I hated anyone who forced me to eat them!
Do you struggle with loving vegetables? Do you find yourself cooking only corn, carrots and peas? Or, staring uninspired at yet another salad with wilted lettuce and no taste? This blog post will take you through my transition from no veggies to loving veggies. Along the way, you will find ways to add more veggies to the table. No yelling, moaning or fighting required.
When I was a teenager, my typical diet was SAD. I mean that literally- Standard American Diet. Pizza, hot dogs, French fries, with some theater-box size candy thrown in for good measure. This was nothing unusual, as most of my friends were doing the same thing. Growing up in the Midwest, meat and cheese are basic staples of just about every meal. I was so passionate in my anti-veggie stance that I took the radical move of becoming emancipated at 18. By emancipated, I mean I declared to one and all that I would never again eat anything green. Unless it was mint chocolate chip ice cream. Unfortunately, I already had an unhealthy relationship with food. By 21, I was 100 pounds overweight. In other words, I was morbidly obese. Clearly, swearing off veggies was not the smartest move.
Today, I am 100 pounds lighter, and have found a new appreciation for vegetables. That’s right- I went from a girl who ate meat at every meal and swore off veggies at 18 to someone who writes and speaks about healthy living. I’m not the type of person who lost the weight fast and furious through some crazy diet solution. Lifestyle change is about making the right choices one step at a time.
Before I share how I made the transition, let’s talk about why. If you don’t know your why, you will struggle to reach your health goals.
The risks of obesity are clear. However, the benefits of vegetarianism are less so. According to Time, vegetarians have 32% less risk of developing heart disease, have lower risk of getting diabetes and cancer, and even have improved moods.
None of that would have mattered to me if all I wanted to do was rock a bikini. My goal was never to rock a bikini. It wasn’t until my senior year of college that my mortality stared me in the face.
Grandma Espinosa was the main inspiration of my young life. She was a healthy, active woman who was widowed in her 40s after her husband passed from a heart attack. She raised their 6 children with an elementary school education and a basic understanding of English. When she passed at 88, I had already survived one emergency surgery and was heavier than ever. It’s not every day you wonder whether you will even make it to 65.
My weight loss goal was always to live a longer and healthier life. The kind of life my grandmother lived. The kind of life I wanted for myself.
Eating a plant-based diet not only leads to a longer, healthier life, but it often results in weight loss. There are no downsides to embracing the green darlings. Even if you transform one meal a day from a carnivorous one to an herbivorous one, your body will thank you.
Here are the top three ways I learned to love veggies:
Can the Cans
I mostly ate canned vegetables when I was growing up. Not only do canned vegetables look different than fresh or frozen, but they also smell different. Green beans were a mild moss-green color out of a can. Fresh green beans are like spring grass. Plus, canned vegetables often have extra salt and BPA from the canning process. This strips away their nutritional content. When possible, use fresh or frozen vegetables. They really do taste better.
During spring, it is much easier to find a farmer’s market or join a CSA that comes from organic, locally produced sources. Find a CSA in your area here.
No more Nuking
Vegetables were often a last-minute thought that were tossed in the microwave just before dinner was served. Try a better cooking method to make them more palatable. In a recent class I taught on nutrition, I asked my class to roast their vegetables. One woman told me that her daughter ate an entire cookie sheet of her roasted vegetables before she even got to try them! To roast vegetables, toss liberally with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and a seasoning blend of your choice, and roast at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.
Roasted vegetables are yummy goodness! I recommend garlic and parsley for a mild flavor, cayenne and chili powder for a kick, and cinnamon and nutmeg for a dash of sweet. For specific techniques to roast different vegetables, see HERE.
They even keep in the fridge longer than uncooked vegetables, and can be eaten at room temperature. Have you ever had a roasted vegetable sandwich? With the right bread and tasty sauce, you have a hit!
Travel the World
Not literally. As a Hispanic woman who married a man from East India, I have discovered a whole new appreciation of cooking. Many other cultures are vegetarian for religious reasons, and have a much greater repertoire of yummy dishes to offer. I have a book called “300 curries” which literally has more curry recipes than you have time to make in one year, many of which are vegetarian or vegan.
Indian, Mexican, Italian, African and Mediterranean dishes all offer great dishes where the vegetables are the main attraction. Not only will you learn new skills in the kitchen, but you will also be exposed to vegetables beyond corn, carrots, or peas. Vegetables such as kohlrabi, eggplant, leeks, or even bitter gourd.
Once I explored the three techniques above, I realized that I don’t actually hate vegetables. I hate vegetables without flavor! Use these three techniques to get everyone in your family to love vegetables, so your whole family can have a healthier, happier life. Visit your local farmer’s market or CSA, roast some vegetables, and try some new cuisines.
If it worked for an avid veggie-hater like me, it can work for you!
If you want to learn other tips to transform your body without drastically changing your lifestyle, enter your email at www.weightlesschronicles.com/go/lose5now/
Jenn is a former fat girl who helps working women achieve weight bliss through health coaching and speaking. She can be found dancing with her daughters in her living room, cooking it up in the kitchen, and speaking at events in Minneapolis, MN. Ditch the diet and discover a whole new confidence at www.weightlesschronicles.com/go/lose5now/
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