Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Less than a Quarter of Meals include Vegetables


percival
 Share

Recommended Posts

Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries

This month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a comprehensive nationwide behavioral study of fruit and vegetable consumption. Only 26 percent of the nation’s adults eat vegetables three or more times a day, it concluded. (And no, that does not include French fries.)

This week, the [NPD Group] released the 25th edition of its annual report, “Eating Patterns in America.” The news there wasn’t good, either. For example, only 23 percent of meals include a vegetable, Mr. Balzer said. (Again, fries don’t count, but lettuce on a hamburger does.) The number of dinners prepared at home that included a salad was 17 percent; in 1994, it was 22 percent.

At restaurants, salads ordered as a main course at either lunch or dinner dropped by half since 1989, to a mere 5 percent, he said.

How often do you eat your veggies, really?

I almost never did till the kidlet arrived. Now, at least 3/4 of the meals I make have veggies, and generally 2+ servings. Yesterday was even an all vegetarian day. And no potatoes.

I'm by no means a vegetarian. House of Prime Rib is arguably my favorite restaurant in SF -- King's cut or go home. I've tried vegetarianism for an experiment -- zero cravings, food tasted good, but just difficult when you're at work or going out to dinner. The challenge is finding decent vegetables, and constantly going to the market daily for fresh produce. Best source: Asian supermarkets - 1/4 of the store is produce you've never seen before. Worst source: Trader Joe's -- half the "organic" produce is vacuum sealed and growing, and they sell more kinds of tortilla chips than greens. Flash frozen vegetables are a life saver, but you can only freeze certain kinds. Tomato/veggie juice is a great way to easily get greens in yer gullet.

How do you add more veggies to your diet? Or have you given up greens, like most of America?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What struck me about the article was,

“The moment you have something fresh you have to schedule your life around using it,” Mr. Balzer said.

and

Melissa MacBride, a busy Manhattan resident who works for a pharmaceuticals company, would eat more vegetables if they weren’t, in her words, “a pain.”

“An apple you can just grab,” she said. “But what am I going to do, put a piece of kale in my purse?”

Vegetables do take a little more time than bunging a chicken breast and potato in the oven. However, I never feel like I have to schedule my life around veggies. If I can't use them, I try to pop them in the freezer. It takes a little organization. I still throw out one or two veggies a week, but I figure it's a decent investment in my health just having them around.

One mistake I feel some veggie novices make is that they think they have to be only boiled and steamed, to keep them "healthy". Who wants to eat boiled kale? But kale roasted in olive oil and sea salt? For example, tonight, I had pumpkin pasta. I sauteed the pumpkin in a healthy dose of olive oil and a judicious amount of salt, before tossing it in pasta and grated parmesan. Delicious. Better for my heart than a cheese-stuffed and breaded chicken breast.

But there's no way to get around the time it takes. I had to be there with the pasta the whole time - with the pochicken meal, you can wander away and do laundry or whatever. I know the last thing I want to do after a day standing in a classroom is go stand in my kitchen for another 45 minutes, but, again, I'm putting that time in for my health.

One thing I'm trying to do is add greens to our diet - at least three times a week. They're more hassle to clean free of grit, and they cook down next to nothing, but I can see what an emphasis people in Asia put on having greens regularly, and I must admit I do like the taste after a saute in peanut oil and garlic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

26 percent of adults eat vegetables three or more times per day but only 23% of meals contain a vegetable? I think that whoever wrote that story should double check their numbers.

As for me, I tend to eat fruit with breakfast and lunch and have three or four different kinds of veg with dinner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over 90% of my weekly shop is veg (and fruit). I buy grains, dals and spices monthly so that's why I'm not counting that. I love vegetables and don't know how people can not eat them! I actually get cravings for spring greens with garlic, courgette in dal, spicy carrot salad, spinach raita, mooli paratha, roasted aubergine chutney, tomatoes with anything...I could go on and on! Veg are my passion and I eat an absolute minimum of two at every meal (including brekkie).

I think some of it may be down to the way that Americans and British people traditionally cook their veg: boiled (or nowadays, steamed), with a bit of butter on them if you're lucky. Now that can be a bit bland and boring, especially if you find the taste of some vegetables a bit difficult. But all it takes is a bit of spice or herb or a different method of cooking them and you can make vegetables taste fantastic!

A case in point is my favourite spring greens dish. To a little bit of oil add (in this order) cumin, ajwain, asafetida, garlic, and then after the spices are done, greens and salt. Stirfried to whatever texture you prefer. If you're scared of cooking veg any other way but steamed for health reasons, fear not. The small amount of added fat aids absorbtion of fat soluble vitamins, the spices aid digestion, and stirfrying means there is no water (with valuable vitamins in it!) to throw away.

Add a bit of seasoning to your veg and suddenly they are tastier, and often more digestable too. So there's nothing to lose and you'll find yourself eating more of them!

If you just don't know how to squeeze veg in, try a chutney/ sauce such as this one. Take an aubergine, and roast in an oven till soft. Mash the flesh, peeling if you desire - I don't because I'm a crazy person who likes the texture of the skin (in this case, chop the skin in to small pieces). Heat a little oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and when they pop, green chillies. Then add a couple of tablespoons of tamarind paste (soak a ball of tamarind in hot water for 10 minutes, breaking it up with a spoon near the start of the 10 mins. Then strain through a seive, pushing out as much tamarind as possible but leaving seeds and fibres behind), the aubergine, a little turmeric and salt. Cook for a few minutes, till the tamarind loses its raw taste. And there you have it, a great side dish to many things (rice, idlis, dosas, pongal, upma, sandwiches, crackers, cooked grains of your choice) that is made of a vegetable but you won't even realise it! And the roasting reduces the volume of the aubergine so you can eat loads without thinking about the fact you've just eaten a portion of veg.

There's loads of other ways to eat veg: I put them in dal, I eat them in raita, a grate or chop them for spicy salads, I add them to rice or other grains, I make them into sauces or chutnies, I cook them on their own (with spices, of course :) ), I cook them in combination, I whip them into pancakes, I steam them in idlis or dumplings, I add them to flatbreads...

I love to show other people how to love veg too. An example would be my Mum, who used to hate cauliflower because she had only ever eaten home-grown cauliflower in an enforced way (they ate what they grew...that was all the veg they had to eat), boiled (with added caterpillars sometimes :laugh: ) and was sick of the flavour. So I tried making a little dal with cauli in it...she kinda liked it, said the dal was like a nice sauce that made the cauliflower taste nicer. Then I made a cauliflower-stuffed paratha...she liked that too, almost not like eating veg at all but you just got a little flavour and texture. Finally, I was cooking cauliflower "on it's own" (aka with a little spices popped in oil and some ground spices too)....and she liked that! Success!

So eat veg, love veg and be happy guys. Vegetables and fruit aren't a punishment, they are a delicious group of foods with enormous possibility!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since finding out I was diabetic last year, I've switched to mostly vegetables. Lunch and dinner are at least 3/4 vegetables, a little starch, and sometimes meat, sometimes not. It was a wakeup call, and we reevaluated everything we were eating. It's not as hard as all that, for people that cook, just a bit of advance planning. As far as going out? I eat lunch at a diner maybe three times a week. It's not hard to say "hey, what's the veg today, can I get it instead of fries?" I haven't had an order of French fries in about 10 years. Nowadays, even fast food places have so many options, that you aren't relegated to fries and a burger.

Winter is a little tougher, we rely on frozen, a lot. By March, we're getting tired of heavy winter greens, squash and turnips, stuff that holds up well, year round. Do beans count? We eat a lot of legumes, just about every day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow. We eat lots of veggies and grow them as well. I grew up with a standard meat and three kind of diet and sometimes no meat at all when the summer crop was bountiful. I can see how so many fall in the sandwich malaise and such and really only ever see a tomato or potato as a vege.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow. We eat lots of veggies and grow them as well. I grew up with a standard meat and three kind of diet and sometimes no meat at all when the summer crop was bountiful. I can see how so many fall in the sandwich malaise and such and really only ever see a tomato or potato as a vege.

I'm as surprised as you. Maybe it's a southern thang, but we almost never have an evening meal that doesn't include at least one side veggie, often two or more if something looked really good in the store, and a salad.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How do you add more veggies to your diet?

Grow your own if you can. Our garden and greenhouse were very productive this year -- my kids love the crudités!

Join or start a vegetarian dinner club.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wow. We eat lots of veggies and grow them as well. I grew up with a standard meat and three kind of diet and sometimes no meat at all when the summer crop was bountiful. I can see how so many fall in the sandwich malaise and such and really only ever see a tomato or potato as a vege.

I'm as surprised as you. Maybe it's a southern thang, but we almost never have an evening meal that doesn't include at least one side veggie, often two or more if something looked really good in the store, and a salad.

Agreed. I can't imagine a veggie less dinner unless it is a purpose built kind of thing. Brats or wings on a game day maybe.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How do you add more veggies to your diet? Or have you given up greens, like most of America?

I've been known to keep a box of pre-washed arugula or other greens in the fridge for quick addition to scrambled eggs in the morning, or to noodle soup.

Karen Dar Woon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I grew up with a salad and a vegetable every night along with a protein and a starch unless it was a stew. The salad was always there - a large head or more of red leaf lettuce plus maybe some onion dressed with Good Seasons dressing that we made from a packet but with less oil & more vinegar - shared by four of us. The bowl was set in the middle of the table and we just ate from there and fought over the last bits. Salad bowls did appear when guests were present.

Based on observations of typical "American" families over the years I did see far fewer vegetables. Almost like they really did not know what to do with them and they were an obligatory "good for you" part of a meal rather than a pleasure. The whole mindset that equates some chopped up bagged lettuce and a bunch of gooey sweet dressing with "vegetable" annoys me.

I get nervous when there are no green vegetables in the fridge or the garden and start eyeballing the dandelions. To quell that I keep a bag of organic spinach in the freezer for "green emergencies".

As to the planning and waste issue- that baffles me. I refuse to let vegetables wither in the fridge or in the garden. If something is going to pass its prime I toss it into a quick soup or stir fry with some onion and extend its life for several more days. It only takes a few minutes and kick starts a future meal. I often slow cook some onions and garlic and freeze in small packets to be used for such quick vegetable rescues. I am also fond of my large stainless bowls that can hold a mass of greens for rinsing. Grit sinks, greens float.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

26 percent of adults eat vegetables three or more times per day but only 23% of meals contain a vegetable? I think that whoever wrote that story should double check their numbers.

The quoted article in the OP cites two different studies, one in which the 26% figure appears, and a second, in which the 23% figure appears.

Karen Dar Woon

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The American supermarket overflows with vegetables that require no prep work and in many cases no cooking. Triple-washed salad greens (and spinach) in plastic clam-shell packaging is something you see in most places now. Pre-cut, or "baby," carrots are universal -- sometimes they even come in little packages with a dip or the like. Cherry or grape tomatoes. Pre-sliced mushrooms. I often see pre-cut "stir-fry vegetables" and such on offer. If people aren't eating vegetables it's not because of inconvenience.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Only 26 percent of the nation’s adults eat vegetables three or more times a day."

"Only 23 percent of meals include a vegetable."

Those two statistics are not mutually exclusive. Some people can eat 3 or more servings of vegetables in only one meal per day, for instance. And if only 23 percent of meals include vegetables, it doesn't mean that said meals are spread equally throughout the population. Most of those meals would be eaten by those who are eating the veggies 3 or more times per day, leaving a very large number of people who eat closer to 0 veggies per day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

26% eat vegetables three or more times per day? That seems really high to me. Do people here eat vegetables for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? I usually have them for the latter two meals, but very rarely for breakfast.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only way that would make sense would be if three times means three servings as opposed to vegetables at three separate sittings.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

P.S. I think this is the actual CDC statement. It doesn't shed any light on the language question.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We (there are two of us) usually eat vegetables for real once a day (not counting what's on a sandwich or eaten as leftovers). But its usually a lot. One huge bunch of kale or two small ones. A medium sized head of cauliflower or brocolli. Etc. When we eat salad, we usually eat protein/starch then clean the plate off and fill it with salad.

When friends come over, I usually just double the amount of vegetables we eat to serve them. They always take a tiny portion and fill up on protein/carb. Since I don't like the idea of leftover veg for most things, I try to get them to eat it so I don't have to put it away but we end up eating most of it anyway!

I think one of the main problems they have is making it taste good and planning for it. I usually wake up thinking about what I'm going to do for dinner. Throughout the day, I usually plan how I'm going to make it in my head in the shower, on the bus, etc. I'd bet a lot of egulleters do this or something similar. My friends I know do not. They think of it last minute or like to make big pots of stuff to eat throughout the week. Sure, you can say why don't they just plan a little. That's not going to get them to do it though.

I'm always trying to give them ways of preparing things to make it taste good and be healthy. I tell them to cook their broccoli just so then make sure its completely drained of all the excess water that hides in the florets. Then, toss with butter so it doesn't get watered down and the butter evenly coats the veg. You can use less butter if you just follow this one step of drying it out a bit too. Then finishing with lemon is nice. This just takes a modicum of attention. I'm not sure any of them have ever tried it, easy as it is.

Many people just don't think about food. I think its because the mental energy they reserve for it is stored away alongside flossing their teeth, rather than exploring and enjoying the variety of vegetables that for me is part of the night's entertainment.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I the only person who thinks veggies are easier to cook than meat? To me, meat is the ingredient that is “a pain.” Not to mention that vegetables are ridiculously cheap when compared to meat.

Also, I think the best way to cook most vegetables is also the most simple. Just steam or sauté. Maybe some butter and garlic, but I typically don’t want much else because adding other ingredients just seems to muck up the flavors. When I’m through cooking my broccoli or carrots I want them to taste like vegetables they started off as.

As for me, my diet is primarily vegetables and grains, though I am not a vegetarian by any stretch of the term. And I’ve noticed that once veggies and grains become the norm, eating a large quantity of meat can be a bit difficult on the digestive tract.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To me, meat is the ingredient that is “a pain.” Not to mention that vegetables are ridiculously cheap when compared to meat.

Good meat for me is difficult to find and expensive to buy. I also find it more boring than vegetables. I rarely cook a large joint of meat at all. Usually I may buy two or three pieces of meat and use them throughout the week as the basis of vegetable dishes. For example, a packet of mince gets tossed with green beans or some other green vegetable. Two chicken breasts may go into a curry that will last for four meal. A little bacon or smoked ham will be the basis for a potato soup or a pasta. Two or three days a week I don't eat any meat at all, and I have to say, I hardly notice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I the only person who thinks veggies are easier to cook than meat? To me, meat is the ingredient that is “a pain.” Not to mention that vegetables are ridiculously cheap when compared to meat.

Also, I think the best way to cook most vegetables is also the most simple. Just steam or sauté. Maybe some butter and garlic, but I typically don’t want much else because adding other ingredients just seems to muck up the flavors. When I’m through cooking my broccoli or carrots I want them to taste like vegetables they started off as.

As for me, my diet is primarily vegetables and grains, though I am not a vegetarian by any stretch of the term. And I’ve noticed that once veggies and grains become the norm, eating a large quantity of meat can be a bit difficult on the digestive tract.

I completely agree. A lot of people I know though have no idea how to maintain the flavor of vegetables or even maybe that that's a good thing. Some of them have told me they grew up eating mushy steamed vegetables completely unseasoned if they ate them at all, as if they were medicine or something. Plus a lot of people are blasted with the idea that gobs of bottled dressing are the way you eat raw veg. They have no intuition or tradition to base their veg cookery on. It's crazy that all it takes is a bit of good judgment, but I think there are some deep seated things stopping them from trying. A friend told me he wanted to like eggplant but every time he tries to cook it, it turns out different and that its like a gamble for it to come out good. He's stopped buying it.

We started eating much less meat a couple of years back. When we eat meat its usually 4oz or thereabouts (I'm just guessing here). One chicken breast for two. A couple of weeks back I bought I think about 14oz of sword fish when I wanted 10. I figured it would be an extravagance to have two big pieces of fish for a change. Neither of us could finish it though. Now that we're used to smaller portions of protein its hard to go back.

nunc est bibendum...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After reading these responses, I feel a bit like I should be posting this in the egullet shame thread, buy my family and I are meat and starch kind of people. We prefer the meat parts of dinner. A lot of times the veggie is the afterthought to the meal. When I go to the grocery store, I head to the meat department first to see what looks good and what's on sale.

BUT!

I have learned to work around what I know isn't a very healthy attitude toward food. We eat a lot of meals that need the veggies included: BLTs, fajitas/tacos, salads with steak included. And when we just don't feel like making an effort on the veggies, there are quite a few frozen veggie mixes with good sauces that aren't just cheese or butter. Green Giant makes one labeled digestive health that has white beans, spinach and yellow carrots in a garlic sauce. We almost always keep a plastic box of baby greens in the fridge for a quick salad.

My mom did a garden this summer for the first time in a long time, and that really helped. Last night we made jambalaya with tomatoes, okra and jalapenos from her garden.

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Like many here have posted, I grew up in a meat and potatoes household. Iceburg lettuce salad and corn were the staple vegetables to go along with that most nights. I was the oddball of my house that never loved so much meat but didn't discover that I love vegetables until I was in my 20s.

Over time, I feel like we have become the "fast-food" vegetable house. We stock a lot of vegetables and prep them ahead of time so that they are conventient to snack on or throw together a last minute meal. Vegetables with longer shelf lives are always on hand like garlic, shallots, onions, carrots, celery, etc. Right now we are feasting on local tomatoes but otherwise get the vine-ripened ones from Costco that keep at least for a week (and canned in a pinch).

Every week we buy a few leafy veg for salad and other things (always Romaine for my daughter, arugula for me, baby spinach plus others depending on the week). I wash and dry these on shopping day. The romaine is cut up and ready for every day salads which we then throw other things in depending on what we have (canned artichokes for my daughter daily). We also buy a number of veg to blanch every week (our consistent ones are broccoli and broccoli raab, right now also green beans). I then boil water once and blanch 4-5 veg one after the other. Once blanched, they get used in many ways: salads (e.g. green bean salad), soups (cream of broccoli), gratins, pastas (broccoli or broccoli raab with parm, garlic, and crushed red pepper). I could go on but you get the point.

We do a stir fry at least once a week as well as a tomato sauce with extra sauteed vegetables (eg carrots, zucchini, eggplant - or just add the blanced broccoli or broccoli raab at last minute. I also make a big batch of brown rice - I like brown rice and blanced broccoli or broccoli raab with parm reg and olive oil for a quick lunch. I will then generally also make a stir fried rice with vegetable once a week if we have leftover rice after a few days.

I always roast some vegetables every week also. Like the blanching idea, I like to use the roasting pans once by roasting several veg in succession to cut down on dishwashing and minimize prep time. While I roast many vegetables, asparagus and cauliflower are favorites. My teen daughter's friends (most of them anyway)actually come over and check out the fridge to see what new vebetable dish there is to try.

Sorry for the long post. Just trying to say that once you get the hang of it, it doesn't have to take a lot of time. For short lived vegetables, most can be combined via stir fry, roasting, etc. to use a lot at once before they reach their shelf life. If you prep a lot of vegetables at one time, it is easy to incorporate them into a lot of dishes without having to spend much time or get pans/chopping boards dirty multiple times.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We get our largest hit of vegetables in the form of salad. Nearly every dinner we prepare at home includes a green salad with mixed vegetables: lettuce, tomato and cucumber at a minimum, and usually also arugula, colored bell peppers, sprouts, beets, shredded carrots and other stuff. We tend to make big ones, so if the CDC are measuring by the serving we must be getting four or five a day just from that. And salad can be ridiculously easy. Supermarkets, at least in the US, sell triple-washed, ready-to-go greens in bags and clamshell packs. There are a lot of choices, including mixes with herbs. You just put a few fistfuls of these greens in a bowl and you're 80% of the way to a salad. A lot of other stuff can be had in forms that don't even require a knife, such as little cherry or grape tomatoes, pre-shredded carrots and sprouts of all kinds.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...