“Eat your beets,” demanded my mother, “or you cannot have dessert.” And so began my life long struggle to make peace with, if not love, vegetables. Let me explain here. My entire childhood knowledge of vegetables was that they came from a can. Except for basic salad ingredients ( i.e. lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers), I never met a fresh vegetable, and although frozen vegetables were around in the 1950s and ’60s when I was growing up, I never saw them in my house.
Have you ever eaten CANNED beets? CANNED spinach? CANNED wax beans? (There’s a reason they are called “wax” beans. The wax on those old tiny waxy containers of lemonade tasted better. ) Is it any wonder I spent the better part of my adulthood eating salads and avoiding cooked vegetables, even after I became acquainted with the fresh produce section of the supermarket? The utterly disgusting taste of canned spinach was imprinted on my brain and palette so strongly that fresh spinach could have been cooked smothered in butter and cream cheese and I would not have eaten it. And beets? I have not eaten a beet since I was a teenager, and I don’t plan on breaking that record. Then there are Brussel sprouts. Next to beets, I can’t imagine a more vile tasting vegetable.
Slowly, ever so slowly, during my adulthood, I came around to liking cooked broccoli and whole green beans. A big dollop of butter, breadcrumbs, and a bit of cheese didn’t hurt the process. It kind of defeated the idea of “healthy”, but at least it made them edible.
As the years went by, I learned to like the cooked broccoli, green beans, and asparagus steamed with a little salt. Definitely progress.
Fast forward to 2021. It has been 18 months since my bariatric sleeve surgery, and unfortunately, as the bariatric team warned us, my body has adjusted after losing 120 lbs. Of course, due to the reduction in my stomach size, I can no longer eat the amounts of food that allowed me to gain so much weight in the first place. But my body is still stubbornly hanging onto the last 10+ lbs. I need to lose. No matter how much I walk https://talktimewithjoan.com/2020/10/30/the-walking-queen/ or how little I eat (generally about 1200 calories a day), the numbers on the scale do not go down, and often even go up. What to do? What to do?
Hmmmm, the thought occurred to me that most of the exceptionally lean people I see, particularly in magazines and on the news, credit their vegetarian eating habits for their thin bodies. I surely wasn’t ready to give up chicken and fish, my proteins of choice, but I thought……………….what if I made a few simple changes, like filling my plate with half protein and half vegetables AND eating cooked vegetables as snacks? Surely that would work, wouldn’t it?
For one whole week……….probably should have given it more time, but I’m amazed I lasted a week…………..I did exactly that. My lunches and suppers consisted of a protein of choice and cooked green beans or asparagus mixed into mashed cauliflower. I even ate the cooked vegetables as snacks. Did the weight drop off of me like melted ice? Uh, well, no.
You see, in order to make the vegetables palatable, I had to season them. With grated parmesan cheese and seasoned salt. And a drizzle of olive oil. They were DELICIOUS.
However, I used the frozen prepared mashed cauliflower that was over salted, a smidge of my own seasoned salt, that probably exceeded “smidge” guidelines, and maybe a bit more than a “drizzle” of olive oil, all of which contributed to a weight GAIN. My nutritionist tells me that it is just “water” weight, and will come off as soon as I return to sanity, which means bland, unsalted vegetables that are the reason I didn’t eat them in the first place. She encouraged me to try seasonings that don’t include weight bloating salt, but honestly, I haven’t found any that made the vegetables so palatable that I eagerly looked forward to eating them.
Here’s a little secret about vegetable recipes that I discovered while Googling “Vegetable Recipes”. Almost every one of the vegetables is tossed in with some kind of starch. Pasta, rice, quinoa, grits, potatoes, bread crumbs. Sure, hide the vegetables in a seasoned starch, and anyone will be able to tolerate them. But I cannot eat starches. It is completely irrelevant to MY body that the “experts” recommend a “balanced” diet of “healthy” carbohydrates. Nope. My body rejects that. If it looks like a starch, acts like a starch, and is a starch, it will put weight on me faster than a pint of Ben and Jerry’s any flavor ice cream. Because of this fact, my nutritionist advises me to stay away from them altogether.
So I am back to the proverbial SQAURE ONE ………………..bland, tasteless, steamed vegetables. I gave it my best shot, but sadly, I am a vegetarian failure.
Do you skinny vegetarians REALLY like those vegetables you eat in the abundance that the rest of the world eats chocolate? Do you?
If anyone has a recipe for a salt-free, carbohydrate-free, tasty vegetable dish, I am pleading with you to send it to me.
I love to toss my veggies in a tiny bit of olive oil onto a sheet pan and then sprinkle with garlic and onion powders. Then roast in the oven…till tender and carmelized.