Eat Your Vegetables… check!

Posted on Nov 05, 2016

Like everyone, I make To-Do Lists; on paper, on my phone, on my computer.  But the mental to-do list I start with every day is 1. exercise and 2. eat vegetables.  Accomplishing both between sunrise to sunset is often more challenging than checking off my paper, phone and computer to-do list combined.  I’ll address the exercise challenge another day.  Today, I’ll tackle the “eat your veggies” action item.

So how many vegetables should we eat each day?  General guidelines recommend 4-5 servings of vegetables per day, with the definition of a serving being 1 cup of leafy greens, ½ cup of cooked or raw vegetables or ¾ cup of pure vegetable juice.  Aim for variety with the veggies.  The juice loses the fiber, so vegetables in their natural state is best.

With that in mind, there are two places in town that I always know will satisfy my taste buds and make the task of eating vegetables a breeze.  When I can, I try to stop by these places to pick up lunch.  And by the time I’m done eating, not only has this item on my mental to-do list been checked, I find that I am energized and not craving carbs or large portions for dinner either.

With three locations in DC and one in Maryland, the image the name BeefSteak conjures does not reflect the food they serve.  Rather, “beefsteak” is referring to the tomato variety and the subheader, “Vegetables, Unleashed” is a much more accurate description of what you’ll be eating.  Something about the sauces and the parboil on the veggies and all the different (healthy) toppings at BeefSteak, make the combination of kale, potatoes, edamame, carrots or whatever vegetables you’re in the mood for, taste rich and appetizing.  I try to amplify the protein content by adding cheese, beans or chicken sausage.  The best part is that I’ve kept the calorie count low, the fiber count high, and my belly is totally satisfied.  Thank you, Jose Andres, for this daring lunch option.

Sweet Green has long been a go-to stop for me.  Unlike some of the other salad places in town, the ingredients change with the season, are locally sourced, and they have fresh, delicious soups and warm grain bowls if salad is not your pleasure.  With many locations in Maryland, Virginia and DC, it’s a fairly quick and always delicious way to meet your daily veggie intake.

Of course, ordering a salad at any restaurant or fast food is always an option, but there are several limitations.  A Cobb salad with iceberg lettuce and all the fixings may not meet the daily recommendation of veggies.  Avoid salads filled with fried chicken, bacon, croutons and excessive dressing.  I like the idea of mixing dark leafy greens and packing in more vegetables than lettuce.  Crunch is always a plus, but veer toward sunflower or chia seeds rather than fried onions or crispy noodles.

But just to be clear, eating all the veggies for the day during lunch does not give license for splurging daily on dinner.  It simply takes care of the mental to-do list of good daily nutrition.  Nothing is stopping you from more veggies for dinner!