Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Are These?

I just came from the local grocery store where I stopped to pick up a few fresh vegetables for today's lunch.  I picked up some beautiful fresh cauliflower, beets, romaine lettuce, tiny yellow tomatoes, celery and carrots.  Nothing unusual there.  Sometimes I do buy what some people might consider unusual vegetables, like fennel, artichokes or celeriac. 

When I got to the checkout counter, a young lady probably in her early twenties was the checker.  As she proceeded to check the items, she suddenly stopped and picked up one of the bags and turned it round and round and upside down looking for a number.  There wasn't one on the item.  She looked very confused and said "What are these?"   What are these I thought....why, beets of course.  Just plain old ordinary beets with the tops on ... nothing different or fancy about that!

I am finding more and more frequently that many young people don't know what fresh vegetables and fruits look like.  This is a failing on so many levels.  Not only are these children not learning at home what these vegetables are, but they are obviously not being shown these things at school.  I actually had one young male checker ask me what a grapefruit was!  My gosh, how can you get to be twenty years old and not know what a grapefruit or a beet is!

We wonder why there is such an epidemic of obesity in this country.  The only vegetable some children know is actually a vegetable is french fries...a sad commentary on the state of nutrition and nutritional education in this country. 

Fresh vegetables and fruits should be the mainstay of your diet, not an incidental occurrence.  Two thirds of the space on your plate should be occupied by vegetables....raw or cooked, fresh or frozen, and if you MUST even canned.  There really isn't any excuse for skipping vegetables, they are easy to cook (actually cooking much faster than meat) and there are so many varieties that you are sure to find a few you can love.  Once, when I was on a vegan diet I actually had someone ask me if it wasn't boring.  Boring?  There are only a handful of types of meats.  I can't even count the variety of vegetables and fruits out there.

I am impressed that at the school where my granddaughter attends, the chef there actually pays attention to what the children are actually consuming.  The children are participating in a game of sorts where they must include a food from each of the food groups on their plate at lunch time.  At the end of the year the class with the most "stars" for achieving this will have a special party just for them.  You wouldn't believe how hard these kids are working at it!  At the same time, they are actually learning new foods and consuming them without complaint.  Amazing.

If you are a parent or grandparent it is part of your responsibility to introduce your child to new and different foods.  They may or may not be crazy about them.  They don't have to eat a plate full, but just "taste" the fruit or vegetable.  You would be surprised how if you start children off at a very young age eating a large variety of vegetables, they will continue to do so all their lives.

Both of my granddaughters were introduced to vegetables when they first started to eat baby cereal.  Instead of mixing the cereal with milk or formula, I actually pureed a vegetarian vegetable soup which I kept on hand and mixed their cereal with that.  They loved it!

Some children prefer raw veggies like carrots that they can "dip" in ranch dressing.  Cherry tomatoes in various colors are fun for small children.  Make it interesting.  But, whatever you do, introduce new fresh and frozen vegetables to your child.  Don't be afraid to try several times.  Sometimes that first bite of a fresh roasted beet might not impress, but with repeated tastings, the child will come to love that bright red treasure.

No purchased bottled vitamin is as good for you as fresh fruits and vegetables.  You can not take the place of the valuable enzymes and vitamins in fresh foods by popping a pill.  If we want to end the cycle of obesity and poor health we see in this Country today, we MUST begin to educate our children about the value of fresh fruits and vegetables.  I hope someday I will not have to tell the checker in the grocery store what a grapefruit or a beet is!


1 Large head Cauliflower
1 Large sweet Onion, sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Garlic Salt to taste

Separate cauliflower florets into 1/2 inch pieces.  Slice onion into thin slices. Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, then add cauliflower and garlic salt.  Continue to saute onions and cauliflower in large frying pan, occasionally adding low salt chicken broth or water to keep it moist until the cauliflower is crisp tender.  

You can sprinkle this with a little parmesan cheese for an extra treat !
Eat your veggies!!!

God Bless and Good Health

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