As a dietitian, I am constantly talking about the benefits of eating vegetables:
“They have fiber! And antioxidants! And vitamins! And minerals! And they’re delicious!”
I tend to get overly enthusiastic in my attempts to convince people to eat their veggies. They’re just so good for you. To most people, this isn’t news. However, a new study published in March provides further evidence of how good vegetables can be for our health and longevity. The study, titled Fruit and vegetable consumption and all-cause, cancer and CVD mortality; analysis of Health Survey for England data, published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, looked at the eating habits of over 65,000 people in England and found that eating 7 or more portions of fruits and vegetables per day reduced risk of dying from any cause by a whopping 42%, compared with eating no fruits or veggies. That’s a big deal! Although eating 7 servings/day might seem unattainable, even eating one to three portion of fruits or vegetables per day decreased death risk by 14%. Vegetables were found to have greater health benefits than fruit, but portions of fruit still made a difference.
Although I get extraordinarily excited about veggies, especially fresh, colorful veggies, I realize that not everyone shares my passion. For many people, eating vegetables is something they feel they have to do, borne from years of being required to eat mushy, overcooked carrots in order to be allowed dessert. If that sounds like you, I recommend trying a few new vegetables, maybe prepared in new ways. A sugar snap pea plucked straight from the garden and eaten fresh, or a root vegetable roasted to perfection so it’s tender and sweet, might just change your mind about vegetables.
Incorporating veggies into main dishes can also be a good way to increase your daily servings, like the recipe below for Quinoa and Brown Rice Veggie Stir-Fry. This original recipe comes from one of our blog readers, University of Montana Wellness Champion Patricia DaSilva. When I tried this recipe, I took the liberty of doubling or tripling some of the vegetables. I also substituted leftover barley in place of the brown rice, and mixed the grains in with the veggies. I liked the “coconutty” flavor, but feel free to substitute a more mild-flavored cooking oil if you prefer. Stir-frys are an excellent way to incorporate more whole grains into your meal as well. Plus, you can empty out your produce drawer and throw in whatever needs to be used up. For those of you tracking your vegetable intake for the Montana Meals May Challenge, this is a great recipe to get in those 3+ servings!
Quinoa and Brown Rice Veggie Stir Fry
Compliments of Patricia DaSilva
- ½ c quinoa
- ¾ c brown rice
- 2-3 T coconut oil
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- ¼ red bell pepper chopped
- ¼ c onion chopped
- ½ c broccoli chopped
- ½ c kale chopped
- ½ c cherry tomatoes cut in half
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook quinoa and rice according to package directions. Heat coconut oil in sauté pan, add garlic and onion, sauté until translucent, add red bell pepper, broccoli and kale (you can choose whatever veggies you like best) and sauté until tender but still firm and still brightly colored. Add halved cherry tomatoes and stir once or twice to warm the tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a small amount of coconut oil to the cooked quinoa and brown rice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve veggies on the quinoa/brown rice combo. Here’s the result:
Happy Vegetable Eating!