Thursday, July 17, 2008

My favorite health food secret

Guess what this is? It's what I keep in the fridge at all times, front and center, first thing I see when the door opens.

Why? Because, as my dear friend Carol says, "When in doubt, eat a vegetable." You're not the only one who needs a nosh now and then and pokes around the fridge. We all do it. The secret to healthy snack choices is to be armed and ready.

This cool contraption is quite simple: five triangle-shaped clear plastic containers atop a lazy susan (covers not pictured). I try to always keep it stocked with fresh, in-season veggies, washed and sliced and ready to eat.

I rotate among many: bell peppers, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes (whole), green beans, snow peas, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower. All of these veggies are SO jam-packed with protective nutrients and SO low in calories that they really do deserve to play a major role in everyone's daily fare.

Warning: sliced cucumbers only last a day or two -- they get slimy pretty fast.

Parents, listen up -- this approach is THE perfect way to get the little ones into the veggie habit. My DS expects the veggies to make an appearance at every meal and snack, and he digs right in and helps himself most days. He sees raw vegetables every single day so of course he eats and enjoys them; they're as normal to him as french fries are to most little guys his age, as much as I hate that analogy.

I have found that setting aside two blocks of time each week is the secret to keeping this habit alive. Usually Saturday, right after returning from the Famer's market, and Wednesday nights, are the times I wash and slice the veggies. And it only takes 10-15 minutes or so.

The veggies are perfect alone or, when the stomach is grumbling, dipped in hummus, almond butter, or salad dressing. They are a wonderful addition to a salad, and are great for quick meals: use as a chili bulker, stir fry with tofu, side dish saute in olive oil and lemon and fresh herbs, or just a colorful garnish.

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