Shut Up and Eat Your Damn Vegetables!

Just as I was getting ready to yell about vegetables, I saw this, “Expert: Don’t yell at kids to eat veggies.” Okay, I won’t yell as much.  But I am kind of cranky because, in a random search, I came across an “Interview with Nutritionist Mary Hartley from” and I remember having to answer OKway too many questions in the briefest amount of time. The Cutest Kid Ever wanted to know:

  • Do you think that restaurants will start adding lower calorie options to the menu, or cutting portion sizes in half, now that they will be required to include calorie counts on their menus?
  • What foods do you recommend for nursing mothers?
  • What are the best free (oh okay, or paid) nutrition resources on or offline?
  • For those of us who have already switched to diet soda, reduced fat cheese, leaner cuts of meat, etc. – what are some other “small changes” we can make to feed a picky family healthier meals?
  • Do you have any suggestions for feeding kids with Asperger Syndrome?

Cutest Kid Ever, you sure do ask a lot of questions for a mommy-blogger!
But I will answer your one question that I am asked over and over again:

Q: I hate veggies, especially those that are cooked. How can I eat more? What are some alternative foods people can eat to get the nutrients they’re not getting in vegetables?

A: Shut up and eat your damn vegetables!

(That’s a joke.) I really said,  “First, you have to STOP saying that you hate vegetables because it is a self-fulfilling statement. If you hate cooked vegetables, then eat raw vegetables. Learn how to make a killer salad with a good home made dressing, or dip raw veggies in hummus, salad dressing or a yogurt dip.  And please don’t say you hate all vegetables when you haven’t come close to trying every one. Find five vegetables to like. Carrots, green beans, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, pepper strips (red, yellow, orange, or green), cucumber spears, portabella mushrooms, beets, kale, cabbage? Try them all. Widening your repertoire during the summer because local vegetables in season always taste best. Add veggies wherever they fit: tomato slices on a sandwich, or how about avocado, roasted peppers, eggplant, red onion, or sprouts? Pizza is a vehicle for lots of vegetables, as are soups, stews, and omelets. Do you saute vegetables with herbs and garlic? Do you know how to grill and roast vegetables? If not, then that’s a problem. Do not serve unseasoned, overcooked, smelly, single vegetables because they aren’t tasty! You must learn how to cook vegetables properly.

In terms of alternative foods that offer the same nutrients, note that fruit, grains, and “meat group” (beans, nuts seeds, and eggs) have many of the same nutrients; however, vegetables are the original “nutrient-dense” food. For hardly any calories, vegetables provide vitamins B1, A, C, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, iron, and other nutrients, as well as carbohydrates, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals – phew!

And, even though 93.6 percent of Americans don’t hit their vegetable target, like brushing your teeth and paying your bills, eating your vegetables is not optional!

Your thoughts: What advice do you have for vegetable-deniers?