There is one thing all healthy diets have in common: lots of vegetables. We all know that we should be eating vegetables, and most of us know we should be eating more vegetables. But why? How much is enough? And what even is a vegetable?
Fruits vs. Vegetables
Vegetable is just a term that refers to certain edible parts of a plant, like the leaves, stems, roots (potatoes, spinach, onions, asparagus, cabbage, etc.). Fruit refers to the part of a plant that bears a seed (tomatoes, avocados, oranges, bananas, berries, squash, etc). Mushrooms are neither fruit nor vegetable, but a fungus! But, does it even matter that a banana is technically a berry?(https://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=63171) Short Answer: No. As long as you are getting a good variety of both fruits and vegetables in your diet it doesn’t really matter if the plant you are eating has seeds or not.
Eating the Rainbow
Fruits and vegetables are truly wonderful. They reduce your risk of disease, they add fibre to your diet, and provide you with vitamins and minerals you need to survive. You should be trying to consume a lot of plants, and a wide variety of plants, in order to get the most benefit. Try to eat at least 3 colours a day, one of them dark green, and fruit and/or vegetables with every meal.
If you feel like you are in a vegetable “rut,”or feel like eating vegetables is a chore, do not lose hope! One way to diversify your plant consumption is to eat fruits and vegetables that are in season. They are usually cheaper and taste much better. Here is a good guide to what is in season month-to-month in Ontario: http://ontariofarmfresh.com/consumers/whats-in-season/. You can also check out some of the farmers’ markets in Kingston, either at Market Square (https://kingstonpublicmarket.ca/) or Memorial Park http://www.memorialcentrefarmersmarket.ca/.
Do I need to eat organic?
Again, short answer: No. Regarding athletic performance and recovering from your workouts, there is no scientific evidence that eating organic fruits and vegetables is better for you. That being said, going back to the theme of our first week’s post, if eating organic or local is important to you (for environmental, ethical, or taste reasons) by all means eat organic!
But I just hate vegetables!
If you hate the way vegetables taste, here is some bad news: there are no tricks or shortcuts. However, there are some ways you can train yourself to like vegetables, or at least to hate them less.
If you currently hate the taste of vegetables, you aren’t alone. Many vegetables are bitter. In fact, the chemical compounds that make some vegetables bitter (like in broccoli) are also what make them good for us. If the bitterness of vegetables really throws you off, like anything, the more you expose yourself to the flavour the more you can change your palate. There are also cooking methods that can help mitigate the bitterness of vegetables.
There are many ways to cook and flavour your vegetables. They can be boiled, roasted, braised, fried, steamed, pickled, or eaten raw. Here is a great infographic from Precision Nutrition which outlines some ways you can prepare vegetables, and which provides some ideas for interesting flavour combinations:
Here is also a guide to roasting vegetables, which is pretty universally accepted as the most delicious way to prepare vegetables (If you disagree we can hash it out in the comments):
Salads have a bad reputation for some reason. If you approach salad as a “diet” food or a feel like eating salad is a chore, it’s time to open your mind. You can really put anything in a salad, it doesn't have to be a sad mix of iceberg lettuce with a few pieces of cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Here is a great resource on how to put salads together so that they actually taste good:
My (this is Posy speaking) all-time favourite salad would be a cobb salad (which is a hearty meal):
Honourable mention to a Salad Niçoise (also a meal): http://allrecipes.com/recipe/14239/salad-nicoise/