Tips for National Fruits and Veggies Month

portrait of woman enjoying salad isolated on white

June is national fruits and vegetables month. For vegans, fruits and veggies are our everyday sustenance. It is recommended by the USDA  to consume 3 to 5 servings of vegetables per day, with one serving being equivalent to ½-1 cup of raw or cooked veggies.

Fruits and veggies are important sources of essential vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Vitamin B6, dietary minerals and carbohydrates. They are high in fiber and low in fat and calories. Eating these foods helps reduce the risk of certain diseases like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, kidney stones and obesity. They also contain a variety of other phytochemicals, some of which are antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anticarcinogenic properties.   There are some vegetables that also contain fiber which is important for gastrointestinal function. Another benefit is the important nutrients that vegetables contain that are necessary for healthy hair and skin.

This may be a good time to encourage the omnivores in our life to choose more fruits and vegetables this month. Here are 7 creative ways to get more fruits and veggies in your diet or the diets of your love ones:

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Truth about…Ramen Noodles [Infographic]

Truth about… Warning: It’s never my intention to ruin someone’s experience with food. If “we are what we eat” we should be aware of who we are and what we’re eating. This portion of the blog will provide more details on certain food to give you the opportunity to be conscious about what you’re consuming. If you want to continue to eat for taste without an understanding of what you’re consuming…stop reading now!

Ramen noodles are a staple for many people. Whether you’re trying to save money, are a college kid, don’t care for cooking, or just like the taste…it’s a pretty convenient food option. You can even find certain brands and flavors that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

If you’re health conscious at all, ramen noodles should be the last choice for a meal option. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that instant ramen may increase a person’s risk of increased cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke.

But what’s in instant ramen, exactly, that makes it so bad? Its’ ingredients include preservatives found in antifreeze and biodiesel. It also contains ingredients that could cause side effects such as nausea, headache, flushing, sweating, and heart palpitations. One package of instant ramen (which is two servings, according to most brands) has around 1,875 milligrams of sodium. That’s significantly more than the recommended daily intake of no more than 1,500 milligrams per day.

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Apple Nachos

Apple NachosThis is the best snack EVER! If you haven’t tried the combination of apples, peanut butter, and chocolate, you don’t know what you’re missing. I started eating this snack a few years ago when my church did a Daniel Fast. I saw this recipe on a list of options for the fast, decided to try it, and I haven’t turned back since.

You can find many variations of this dish all over the internet, so don’t be a afraid of making it your own. Non-vegans can try this with other toppings like caramel, marshmallows, candy bars, and more. Vegans can add cinnamon, nut based cheese or coconut strips. Feel free to get creative.

If you make these apple nachos, take a pic and tag me on instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #VeggieCurls so I can find them! I’d love to see your creations.

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Roasted Plantains with Roasted Garlic-Lime Dipping Sauce

Roasted Plantain with Garlic Lime Dipping Sauce

I absolutely love plantains and this version is super tasty and easy to make. According to Raul Musibay, Cuban cookbook author and cofounder of icuban.com, tostones (twice-fried plantains) can be linked directly to the African continent: “The tradition of the tostone comes from African slaves. In the Congo, the people prepare plantains in the exact same way, even to this day.”

This makes the perfect appetizer, side dish, or snack for any meal. Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.

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Cajun Creole Spiced Tempeh Piece with Creamy Grits

Cajun-Creole-Spiced Tempeh Pieces with Creamy Grits

Cajun Creole Spiced Tempeh Piece with Creamy GritsHere is my next installment in the Vegan Soul Kitchen series. Author Bryant Terry offers his vegan rendition of a classic shrimp and grits. I was never a big fan of tempeh but I really enjoyed it in this recipe. And if you like spicy cajun food, this is definitely a great dish to try. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think in the comment section below.

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Tofu Quiche

1431476232763I absolutely love this recipe. It is super easy to make and requires just 10 ingredients (most of which you probably already have in your refrigerator). You can feel free to add in your favorite veggies to make this dish your own. It is very filling and the hash brown crust is amazing! Give it a try and let me know what you think…

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Vegan Collard Greens with Cranberry Redux

PHOTO BY SARA REMINGTON on epicurious.com
PHOTO BY SARA REMINGTON on epicurious.com

Don’t let the vegan label fool you. I am very much a southern girl and the thought of making collard greens without the slow cooking of a ham-hock made me shiver. However, I decided to give it a try after picking up the book Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry.

These collard greens are the first recipe in the book and apparently the inspiration for creating vegan soul kitchen. I made these collard green last night and really enjoyed them. The sweetness of the dried cranberries, mix with the citrus on the orange juice and the spice of the garlic are a perfect combination. Plus this version take minutes as opposed to hours compared to traditional southern greens.

I’ve adjusted a few of the original ingredients for my taste and you can be sure to do the same for yourself.

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Where’s the protein?

People don’t seem to care about your protein intake until you declare that you’re a vegan. And for those considering a vegan or vegetarian diet, they are unsure where to start and where to get their vitamin and nutrients from. I found this great infographic on Peta’s website that give great examples of where to find protein and other vital nutrients in plant based foods.

vegan_2D00_health_2D00_infographic


Wondering About a Vegan Diet? – An infographic by the team at PETA

BBQ Cauliflower Wings

1429644339125This has easily become one of my favorite vegan recipes. Dredging the cauliflower in the flour creates the crispy breading that you’re used to with wings and baking the cauliflower gives that “fall off the bone” texture of a real wing. You can make these wing your own by using your favorite kind of BBQ sauce like a mustard base, sweet, spicy or any other sauce that you prefer.

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Learn to Love Veggies – The Oreo Method

oreo_cookieMaybe you aren’t ready to fully commit to a vegan lifestyle but you want to get more veggies in your diet. That’s admirable because  most Americans aren’t eating most vegetables? When I went vegan, I got a reality check as to how many vegetables I was missing out on in my old diet. Also, when going vegan, I realized that it’s really not about the food itself, it’s more about the taste, temperature, and texture that’s most appetizing to my taste buds. Knowing how you like to consume food within the 3 T’s will allow you to eat almost anything.

As an adult, you’ve probably made up your mind about the food you like and the food you don’t. Well there is a way to reprogram your taste buds, to allow yourself to try more vegetables and ultimately add them into your regular diet.

I was watching Dr. Oz a few weeks ago, and Dr. Mike Dow introduced a few strategies to reprogram your taste buds. Check out these foolproof strategies below to change the way you think about veggies:

The Oreo Method

If the taste of certain healthy foods is preventing you from consuming it, the oreo method may be right for you. The oreo method works by  biting into a food item you like, followed by the veggie you don’t like, and following that with the food you like. For example if you like nachos and dislike broccoli; you would take a bite of a nacho, immediately follow that up with a bite of broccoli, and then immediately follow that bite with another nacho.

Beginning and ending with a familiar food will help you associate the taste of the foods you don’t like with something delicious and comforting. This can be an effective strategy for kids that are picky eaters as well. The more you use this strategy, the more healthy food you will enjoy eating. Overtime you’ll get used to the veggie without the sweet or savory food to go with it.

 

For those who have more of an issue with temperature and texture, check out the tips below:

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