Continuing with the theme of my last post, today I want to talk about eating more veggies. Our culture seems to have a love/hate relationship with this food group: we know it’s good for us, but we are much more tempted to eat “tastier” veggie-less foods that are thrown on our faces day in and day out. Eating vegetables always ends up feeling like homework, and nobody likes doing homework, right?
What I have found out through many years of making my food and nutrition a priority, however, is that the more vegetables I eat, the more I crave them. I’m not saying that eating them becomes an addiction, the way eating sugar does; but they do seem to awaken some “wise” part of my mind, body, and appetite, which suddenly realizes these are the foods I need, and starts asking for more and more of them. Some call this “intuitive eating”.
So how do you start eating and enjoying more vegetables, when all you want is a huge slice of pizza or chocolate cake? I’m a big advocate of learning to eat fruits and veggies (and seeds, and nuts, and legumes, and everything that is good for you!), without even noticing it, so you have a positive attitude towards them and don’t stress out. In my last post I wrote about putting your salad in a sandwich. That has worked wonders for me, and for everyone that I’ve introduced to this habit. Another way I use to eat more veggies, is turning them into the perfect accompaniment to something I really like. Cabbage, for example, is not a vegetable I’m crazy about, but luckily for me, I do have one way in which I love eating this power veg, which I inherited from my Nicaraguan family and I’m immensely grateful for. If I’m given raw cabbage by itself, I get tired of it very quickly and it doesn’t satisfy me as a meal, not even as an appetizer. But put it next to fried plantains, beans, and cheese, like Nicaraguans do, and this salad becomes a total delight that I keep devouring and adding more of to my plate because I can’t get enough of it. The saltiness of the fried cheese, combined with the other fried foods makes one crave something fresh and watery to balance the dish out, and that’s where cabbage comes in to save the day! And granted, maybe the first half of the dish is not what the doctor prescribed, but it’s delicious and one ends up eating very little of it because the cabbage is so filling.
My favorite way of making this salad is to thinly slice a whole cabbage and a red onion, add some chopped tomato and grated carrots, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. And now that I’ve discovered Nakano‘s Seasoned Rice Vinegar, I can even skip the salt and pepper, and just splash this over the cabbage and get the perfect taste. My favorite combination of healthy, easy and appetizing!
Nicaraguan Feast (Serves 4)
Frijoles Fritos (Fried Beans)
2 cans red beans
1/2-1 cup water
2 chopped onion
2 chopped garlic cloves
Oil for frying
Rinse the beans under running water to remove the canned taste. Puree in a blender with the water (add as much water as you need). Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes over medium heat. Remove the onion and garlic from the pan (but not the oil), add the beans, and fry, stirring every now and then, until they have the consistency you desire.Season with salt.
Queso Frito (Fried Cheese)
A few slices cheese
Oil for frying
Heat a pan over medium/high heat, pass the cheese through flour, and deep fry for a few minutes, turning and frying on the other side to make sure it’s golden on both sides. You should choose a cheese with a simple taste, that won’t melt easily, such as queso fresco or halloumi. You can ask your cheese monger which cheese would be best
Tostones Fritos (Fried Plantains)
1 green plantain
Oil for frying
Peel the plantain, and cut in 2-inch slices. In a saucepan with hot oil, Pre-cook them in a saucepan with hot oil, but do not let them color. They should be partially cooked. Remove from the pan and drain with paper towels. Press every piece with the bottom of a glass or cup, making it almost flat, but being careful not to disintegrate them. Heat some more oil, and deep fry the plantain slices until golden. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
Ensalada de Col (Cabbage Slaw)
1/2 red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
A generous splash of Nakano’s Seasoned Rice Vinegar
Thinly slice the cabbage and onion. Peel and grate the carrot. Chop the tomato. Put everything in a bowl, add the olive oil and Nakano’s Seasoned Rice Vinegar.
Disclosure: We give thanks to Mizkan for being a SpanglishBaby sponsor.