The Read My Hips Summer GiveaSway continues!
I recently saw a TV commercial for vegetable juice portraying a man at a party reluctantly and gingerly licking dip off a broccoli floret. The voiceover said something like, “Getting vegetables into your diet would be much easier if they didn’t taste so…vegetable-y.”
A distaste for vegetables isn’t strictly kid stuff. Even though I have a better appreciation for vegetables now at age 40, in my twenties I still suffered a pretty big aversion. It was an aversion that also encompassed fruit, and extended far back into my childhood.
In my memoir Read My Hips: How I Learned to Love My Body, Ditch Dieting and Live Large, I wrote a chapter called “Can’t Stand the Farm Stand”. Here’s an excerpt:
When I was a kid, I didn’t take too kindly to being served farm-fresh fruits or vegetables.
I hated almost all fresh produce. To me, fresh vegetables tasted like dirt and water. And fruit tasted like watered-down Kool Aid, with just a pinch of dirt.
I lapped up plates of canned green beans, canned peas, and canned corn — highly salted, sopping soft, and slightly metallic tasting. But I wouldn’t touch a fresh vegetable.
It wasn’t in my mother’s routine to serve a predinner salad. Which was a good thing, because I detested tossed salad. To me it looked like garbage — akin to rinds and onion skins, like somthing you’d push into soggy piles in the kitchen sink and throw into the trash bag with an ugly splat.
Once my mother brough home a bag of green beans from the supermarket. I still remember the light from the window above the kitchen sink filtered through the semi-transparent plastic bag on the counter, weighted down by two cups of long green Grinch fingers in the bottom. She boiled them and served them up.
“They’re hard,” I grimaced. I was disturbed by the snap when my molars came down on the bean. The skin required too much chewing. This foreign thing didn’t belong in my mouth.
“Blech!” I noised, spitting half-chewed bean into my napkin. “It tastes like it’s been in the ground.” My mother rolled her eyes and shrugged in resignation. “Because it has been, Kim,” she sighed.
Later as a young adult, finally living in my own apartment for the first time, I learned to prepare and eat fresh vegetables with the help of a friend with true culinary passion. At first, I didn’t really get it. As I wrote in Read My Hips:
I loped behind her like a bored child, blind to the splendor around me. All I could see was a maze of crates packed with stuff that’d been pulled out of dirt. I couldn’t relate to Parvin’s gasps of ecstacy as she paused at mountains of sweet Jersey corn and lovingly peeled away a supple green leaf to reveal its virginal, pearly white kernels. I didn’t understand the appeal of fondling rich purple plums, of dirtying one’s hands to stroke a heap of clay-colored yams.
If you grew up eating a heavily starchy and/or sugar-laded diet, fresh produce could taste a tad “earthy” and foreign to you. You might find yourself eating around the vegetables on your plate at dinner parties and restaurants. You might even feel guilty about it because, after all, you’re a grown-up, and isn’t this stuff supposed to be good for you? And weren’t you supposed to love it by now?
If that sounds like you, fear not. There are a few tricks you can try to ease yourself into a new world of vegetable eating, and it won’t mean forcing yourself to eat foods that are unpleasant to you. You’ll be nurturing an authentic love of nutritious foods you’ll want to eat.
A good way to start is to identify a “gateway” vegetable that tastes similar to a food you already like. Grilled mushrooms, for instance, can have a meaty, rich texture, and are a good choice for beef lovers. When you adopt one vegetable, you might be brave enough to try a second.
My gateway vegetable was acorn squash. Acorn squash is sweet and meaty, so it appealed to that part of me (that very, very BIG part of me) that likes sweet things. If you have a sweet tooth like I do, experiment with sweet vegetables first, like squash varieties. Your taste buds might be more receptive toward these foods than to veggies that are bitter, bland or sharp.
Raw vegetables are better for you than cooked ones, because they contain more nutrients. But people who aren’t naturally fond of vegetables tend to be even less enthusiastic when those veggies are raw. Sound familiar? Then here’s the best possible advice I can give you: buy a food steamer, like the one I have: the Nesco 5-quart ST-25 Food Steamer with Rice Bowl. It’s simple to use. Just fill the reservoir with water, throw your veggies into the steamer bowl, and turn the unit on. Steaming is one way to cook your vegetables without boiling all the nutrients out of them.
Over time, you can try steaming the veggies you’ve grown to like for shorter and shorter periods, until maybe you find one or more varieties that you like semi-raw. And then if you like them semi-raw, you might be encouraged to try them raw raw.
Here’s your chance to get your hands on a Nesco 5-quart ST-25 food steamer. It comes with a rice bowl, two stacking steaming trays, a 60 minute timer, and it’s equipped with an automatic shut-off when the unit runs out of water. The ST-25 cooks a wide variety of foods including grains, vegetables, fruits, eggs, seafood, meat and poultry.
Whee! You and I can be steamer twins!
One lucky winner will receive a Nesco ST-25 as part of the Read My Hips Summer GiveaSway. Here’s how to enter:
Just send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org including:
– your name and mailing address, and
– write the phrase NESCO STEAMER in the subject line of your e-mail.
– send the e-mail by midnight EST on Saturday, August 20, 2011.
Other things you should know:
– If you entered to win a different prize in the Read My Hips Summer GiveaSway, you can still enter to win this prize. Even if you were a winner before.
– I won’t share your e-mail or mailing address with anybody else.
– By entering, you agree to give me the right to use your first name and last initial on my blog, on Facebook, Twitter, and via e-mail to others.
– One winner will be selected at random.
– Winner will receive his or her prize by mail within 30 days after winner is announced.
– I will announce the first name and last initial of the winner on my blog on Sunday, August 21, 2011, and winner will also be notified by e-mail.
Now remember, the Read My Hips Summer GiveaSway is eight glorious summer weeks of fun and prizes. Each week I’ll announce a new giveaway, right here on the blog! You’ll get to read all about my hijinks from Read My Hips, and you’ll learn how to enter to win the latest and greatest goodies!
So stay tuned to Read My Hips: The Blog all summer long. And meanwhile, keep those hips swaying, take deep and lusty breaths, strut your stuff, and always remain willing to get a little bit smarter every day. Oh — and read wonderful, eye-opening books!
Your friend the incurable beach bunny,
Good luck, everybody!