Welcoming the Greens to my Plate!

By Julie Un

Many of us carry habits we are oblivious to because we have become so immune to them. Examples of these apply to habits such as knowing how to pedal when riding a bike around the neighborhood or running when being chased by a neighbor’s bulldog. I bring to attention the habit that I was not taught that seems typical to a child born and raised in a society that pushes healthy eating habits. This is the habit that has brought me to realize that unless broken, it will cause me to get ill much quicker and live a shorter lifespan. This habit is the habit of eating more meat and all sorts of foods as an eating habit without considering any vegetables. Based on my eating habits up until my first year of college, I have never voluntarily eaten vegetables on my own. This is the habit that many overlook when enjoying their means because for those like me, training myself to eat fruits and vegetables is a habit I am teaching myself to do.

I was raised being the lucky child—this of course is what I believed to be lucky at the time when other kids were being forced to eat their vegetables. I consumed junk foods on a daily basis and dishes that had a lot of meat and vegetables. I had the tendency to only take in the meat, which is what influenced me to consume so much meat in the foods that I take in. I ate fruits occasionally but I was allowed to have junk foods such as chips and soda. My mother always cut fruits in small pieces such as apples, bananas, persimmons, and pineapple. This helped me enjoy them more because I learned that the texture of vegetables and fruits played a big role.

My parents had healthy eating habits and had no problem consuming fruits and vegetables. I find it ironic they never pushed me to the extreme for me to consume vegetables. I never remember them threatening to take my toys away or giving me a time-out if I did not finish the greens on my plate. After analyzing and searching for answers as to the possible reasons they never pushed me to eat vegetables other than to ask me gently, I came up with one possible answer. I came up with the idea that it may be that they preferred to avoid pushing and assumed that one day I’d learn eventually. This one day came after realizing that my body could be in danger.

There are factors that motivated me to start changing my habits. This nutrition class is one and the reading we have to do has given me knowledge of what lays ahead in my path if I do no train myself to eat more fruits and vegetables. Learning about all the vitamin deficiency put a scare to me because I am aware of the symptoms I need to look out for now. I already have signs such as difficulty with bowel movements as well as wounds not healing fast enough. This of course is because I lack fiber in my diet and lack of vitamins such as A that I need. The fact that I get sick pretty frequently is another sign of my body lacking the vitamins that will help my body stay strong. Ultimately, I want to live a longer and healthy life and realizing that I have some power to do that motivates me tremendously. Realizing all of this and the control I have, motivates me to make these changes to live a healthy and better life.

As a college student living on my own, I have the choices in what I am taking in when I come home to snack and cook. The three dishes below are things that have helped me consume more vegetables and fruits in my diet. I have always been fond of meat and love it so I figured that as long as there was some sort of meat in the dish, I could combine it with the vegetables so I can enjoy what I’ve always enjoyed as well as train myself. Below are ideas for those who love meat as well as well as an idea that my encourage you to eat more fruits on a daily basis!

1. Veggie & Meat lover’s curry soup:
For this I cut up potatoes into cubes, carrots, yellow bell peppers, mix in a lot of corn, and cut the beef into cubes as well. At this point I have already seasoned the meat and cooked it. When I start off, I put the bell peppers first on a skillet with a little bit of butter and garlic. I add the meat I’ve seasoned and cooked. A little after that, I add in the curry powder that can be bought at any grocery store. After stirring, I put in the potatoes I cut into cubes as well as broth and water so it starts forming soup. I have to stir it a lot to make sure everything is mixed and at the same time it should begin to get a bit thick. Lastly, I add the corn and continue to stir.

I have always been a curry lover so I knew that all I needed to do was make sure there was some sort of meat and in this case I chose beef. It helps me consume vegetables when they are put in soup because I know the texture is soft and much more easy for me to eat. The carrots in this soup form were softened and tasted great so this helped me a lot. And besides, I am a soup lover!

2. Veggies in Stir Fry with noodles

Since chow mein is something I grew up eating and often left the veggies to one side of the plate, I figured why not cook my childhood favorite dish and put the selected veggies I want in the way I want to teach myself how to eat it more often? So below is what I put together that encouraged me to try something new in a dish I was so fond of growing up.

For this stir-fry, I chose to marinate beef, cut up broccoli and carrots into little cubes, corn, and bell peppers. I also had sugar, soy sauce and some lemon juice to stir in as the sauce. So the first thing to do is cook the meat, and set aside. Then I boil the veggies I cut into cubes until they are soft because this makes it easy for me to enjoy it. I set the veggies aside after I drain them. The sauce I mix it all in is simply put by mixing soy sauce, sugar and lemon. I put the sauce I combined together aside because at this point I put some oil in the pan I’m frying in and fry some garlic. I put in noodles that can be bought at any grocery store in and break it up. The noodles usually do not need boiling but it depends on which you buy. Then I add in the softened veggies, the meat and sauce I recently set aside. The sauce begins to thicken. Since I enjoy spicy foods, I add some hot sauce to it but not too much so it is enjoyable.

3. Tupperware of fruits
As I am constantly in and out of my apartment to grab things like a snack or a book I left at home, I realized cutting up fruits was time consuming if I did it for one fruit each time I came in. So I decided ever since the beginning of fall quarter, to cut up the fruits and mix it all in together in a Tupperware each morning before leaving the apartment. This way it is always convenient in my backpack and I can sit through class eating them. I cut them up because it is easier to eat. I prefer to have them cut up instead of carrying whole apples, oranges and persimmons. It has definitely encouraged me and saves much more time then coming in each time to grab multiple fruits.

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