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More Vegetables, Please!

by Elson Haas, MD and Patty James, MS

People need to eat more veggies, and yet many people don't really know how to incorporate them well into their family meals--nor do they know how to prepare them so that they taste great.

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"More vegetables, please," is what we found ourselves consistently telling waitstaff at restaurants. We couldn't help but notice that at all the restaurants we went to, from the fanciest ones to those that claimed to offer wholesome food, vegetables were in short supply.
There are too many simple carbohydrates and sweeteners added to most dishes, and entreés are generally very rich in fats and oils. All restaurants want their food to taste great, and, let's face it, too often that comes from added sugars, fats, and salt. It's no wonder that modern-day eaters have trouble maintaining a healthy weight.
People need to eat more veggies, and yet many people don't really know how to incorporate them well into their family meals--nor do they know how to prepare them so that they taste great. We even see vegetarians who do not eat enough veggies. Many vegetarians eat an overabundance of bread and cheese and do not include fresh salads and properly cooked veggie dishes in their diets.
Whether you're a vegetarian or meat-eater, you need colors, nutrition, and vitality in your foods--and you'll find that in the vegetable kingdom. We believe that the dietary approach of adding more vegetables will be synonymous with more health, too.
It is very clear that we have a huge problem in this country--and the Western world--with dietary balance. We are consuming too many calories, especially from refined sugars, and this is part of the obesity epidemic. In John Robbins's brilliant book Healthy at 100, he reviews civilizations in which people tend to live long and healthy lives, and he describes what it takes to live that way in this 21st century. Many people find their weight resolution in the latest high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet, yet that is not ideal because many of these programs suggest too much animal protein and fat, and this may well be linked to cardiovascular diseases and cancer. The solution lies in eating more fiber, whole-grain complex carbohydrates, and then fruits, nuts and seeds, legumes, and appropriate animal proteins.

6 Tips on How to Add More Veggies to Your Diet:

1) Fill half of your plate with vegetables. Most of these veggies should be non-starchy (don't just go with potatoes and corn).

2) Try a Meatless Monday.

3) Consume smaller portions of meat.

4) Make raw veggies your snack.

5) Make the center of your plate a beautiful vegetable dish. Or, better yet, place some steamed broccoli in the center with a lemon wedge next to it, then add grains or a small amount of meat protein around the broccoli, making the veggies the star of your meal.

6) Plan ahead--preparation is key! Perhaps on Sunday wash some carrots and celery, cut them, and place them in containers for use throughout the week.

The Best Kale Salad Ever

2 bunches washed and dried kale
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 whole ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 medium apple, cored and chopped
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons tamari or soy sauce
1/2 cup raw, chopped cashews

Remove the large stems and then chop the kale; place in large bowl. Add lemon juice and avocado. With your hands, mix together until the avocado is smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Serve immediately.
(Serves 6)


Ratatouille can be served cold, warm, or hot. It's very nice served with crusty whole-wheat French bread or with polenta. You may also place some spinach leaves in the bottom of a soup bowl and serve the ratatouille on top; the leaves will wilt slightly and be wonderful.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
5 cloves garlic
4 medium tomatoes, stems removed and diced
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or
1 teaspoon dried
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, or 2 teaspoons dried
2 whole bay leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
3 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 large green bell pepper, cut into one inch squares
1 large red bell pepper, cut into one inch squares
Juice from 1/2 lemon (optional)

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot like a Dutch oven. Sauté the onions until they are translucent, stirring occasionally. Next add the garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes with juice, wine, thyme, basil, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add the eggplant, zucchini, and green and red bell peppers and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, carefully stirring occasionally. Squeeze lemon juice into the ratatouille if you like. Serve warm, cold, or hot. (Serves 6)

Veggie Sandwich Ideas

Asian Inspired:
Whole Wheat Wrap
Peanut Sauce
Thinly sliced celery
Thinly sliced radishes
Sauteed tofu (optional)

Italian Inspired:
Whole Wheat Roll or Bread
Red pepper spread or roasted peppers
Sliced tomatoes
Arugula or romaine lettuce
Fresh basil or parsley

Greek Inspired:
Whole Wheat Wrap
Hummus or baba ghanoush
Sliced tomatoes
Thinly sliced red onions
Chopped olives
Shredded carrots
Chopped parsley

Grilled Veggie Sandwich:
Seasonal veggies of your choice, grilled
Extra virgin olive oil
Bread of your choice
Pesto (optional)

Adapted with permission from More Vegetables, Please! ©2009 by Elson M. Haas, MD & Patty James, MS, published by New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, CA. Available in stores or please visit www.newharbinger.com.

Dr. Elson Haas is founder and director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin, located in San Rafael.
Patty James is a certified natural chef and nutrition consultant. Visit their websites at www.pmcmarin.com and www.pattyjames.com for more info.

Related Info:
Dr. Elson Haas on diet and nutrition
Dr. Elson Haas on detoxification
John McDougall, M.D. on diet and nutrition
Andrew Weil, M.D. on diet and nutrition
Mollie Katzen on wholesome food and nutrition
Reversing Type 2 Diabetes & Insulin Resistance
The Health Benefits of Green Foods
Eating For Health

Natural Weight Loss Program recommended by The Share Guide: learn more


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