Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fruits & veggies: Why say 'healthy' instead of 'delicious' ?

I've started Pinning every delicious fruit and vegetable recipe I can get my hands on.  Got a yummy, healthy recipe to share? 
Why does it feel so challenging to eat more fruits and vegetables, especially since I enjoy this kind of food? Or maybe I should say I enjoy it if it doesn't involve mushy, oversalted canned vegetables, recipes with a dozen ingredients or ones which cook away all the flavor. And why do I refer to fruit and veggie recipes as healthy instead of delicious, as if eating good food is a chore?
I've long loved to cook but learned a lot from my beau David, who has a knack for whipping up fresh, healthy food that's savory and succulent. It doesn't cost an arm and a leg to fix either.It's amazing to watch him breeze through a grocery store, spend about 25 bucks, and come out with a week's worth of groceries plus a mental menu for the week. Granted, he's usually cooking for just 1 or 2 people, but still...
This time of year, for example, David cooks 1 or 2 whole artichokes in an old Pyrex casserole dish, adds a tiny bit of water, covers them with plastic wrap that gets poked with a few holes, and microwaves them. He cooks them 3-4 minutes at a time, lets them steam a couple minutes, then repeats the process if the leaves aren't yet tender enough to scrape (you draw the leaves between your teeth and discard the rest). Sometimes you need to repeat the microwave/rest cycle once or twice.When they're tender and the little water left in the pan is slightly green, they're done. He melts a little butter, adds olive oil, lemon juice and a little garlic salt for dipping. Soooooo fantastically good. His daughter ─ now 20-something and a skinny little thing ─ can eat two by herself. For six people at Easter, he cooked four.
Another favorite is grilled baby zucchini, split lengthwise, brushed with olive oil and garlic salt (or a little minced garlic). It's amazing that something so simple can taste so delicious. He pan-fries halved Brussels sprouts in a small amount of olive oil and fresh garlic, until they're caramelized. Before eating them this way, I'd only tried the boiled-and-buttered Brussels sprouts and didn't care for them, but I could eat a whole cast iron panful of the caramelized sprouts. This recipe works pretty well with the frozen ones too.
We all know there are lots of good reasons to eat healthy fruits and vegetables (and exercise too). These foods shrink our waistlines, help us feel better and ward off colds as well as more serious diseases. Research published by the National Institutes of Health even suggests benefits for people with asthma Personally I have extra motivation to live a more healthy lifestyle. My mother, who has diabetes and neuropathy, has had a wound on her foot for several years that just won't heal. Her poor feet have been so gigantic she hasn't been able to walk well and can't find shoes which fit. As a formerly independent lady who once traveled the country, being homebound was unbelievably difficult for her. After all the help she has required from the family, none of us want to follow the same path and are working to be healthier.
So my springtime resolution (since I skipped the traditional New Year's vows) is to enjoy more fruits and vegetables. No, I'm not measuring out daily portions or anything, but I'm roughly aiming for yummy fruits and veggies to make up about 1/2 to 2/3 of my food; the rest of my diet ideally is meat, eggs, dairy, grains and starches such as potatoes and rice. OK, plus maybe a little chocolate.
I'm putting together a Pinterest board with mostly quick, simple recipes using primarily fresh, frozen or fermented produce, nuts, legumes, herbs, olives and olive oil, and sometimes grains such as quinoa. (While I love cheese and pasta, those recipes are going on my Summer Eats board). This fruit and veggie board is my go-to inspiration when I'm trying to figure out something sumptuous that's worth eating!
If you have a few favorite healthy and delicious recipes, please add a comment and a link. It doesn't have to be a long recipe ─ even flavor combinations are fine, since we're more likely to eat good stuff if we actually get around to preparing it. Let's share the inspiration!