You Had What For Dinner?

I don’t know what it is about me, but most people I meet, automatically presume I am a vegetarian. I am not, I was once, but haven’t been in almost a decade. I happily eat organic non-GMO meat. Actually, I enjoy the flavor of different meats very much, and I think some meats can be healthy. So why people see me as a vegetarian is beyond me.

This is not to say that I’m a strict carnivore, quite the opposite. I eat my three ounces of meat per day, coupled with the appropriate amount of carbs and fats, and lots and lots of vegetables.

Perhaps it is a common misconception that vegetarian = healthy, thus people assume I’m vegetarian, as I think I look healthy and perhaps that’s what people see. Unfortunately to say that being a vegetarian is healthy is like saying that any painter is as good as Picasso. This is just not so, as a vegetarian diet is often a high carb and high soy diet, neither of which are ideal to maintain health.

But vegetarianism aside, I’m not one of them. What I am instead is a health conscious individual who pays probably way too much attention to things like ingredients, protein to carb ratio, what was the animal fed, etc. My eating habits are very normal to me, but so foreign to others. I think the problem here is that I never eat fast food, I don’t eat out at restaurants, and choose not to participate in the potlucks at work. As a result of a combination of these things, I often get puzzling looks at what is in my glass tupperware, and just about everyone asks me what exactly do I eat for dinner if I don’t eat mashed potatoes with gravy, a hunkin’ steak, and a small side of vegetables, followed by dessert.

Explaining that I eat a large bowl of veggies often leaves people staring at me as if I must be starving myself, and how boring to eat vegetables for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, I eat more than just vegetables through out the day, but by the time dinner comes along, I have eaten all my food groups and nutrients, and veggies is what’s left on my nutrition plan.

Boring, I know, but let me show you how delicious my dinner’s really are.

First, I take some boring vegetables and get them ready. Wash as appropriate, get out a cutting board, and start chopping. Notice the cruciferous vegetables? Cruciferous vegetables are veggies found in the brassicaceae family which include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, brussels sprouts, and garden cress. Studies show that cruciferous vegetables in your diet can reduce risk of breast cancer. How that works gets complicated, but here is one study if you’re interested, and a different method of action found here. And another study showing yet another method of action found here. And even more found here, and here.

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Then I get out a pan, put in some water and olive oil, some salt for flavor and start adding veggies, broccoli and habañero first. Habañero is rich in capsaicin which is a phytonutrient that acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, which is great if you suffer from arthritis.

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Broccoli is not only part of the brassicacae family that offers many anti-cancer properties, but also has a lot of nutritional value as broccoli is rich in many vitamins and minerals.

Do note that I alternate between different spiced peppers to change the flavor so it’s not so boring from day to day. Sometimes jalapeño, sometimes habañero, sometimes red flame pepper, and sometimes no hot pepper at all.

Then I add onion and carrot both of which are very healthy. Onions, as noted by Dr. Mercola in his article on onions, have a high concentration of Polyphenols, which are plant compounds recognized for their disease prevention, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties.

Carrots, which are full of wonderful nutrients, including the ability to metabolize into your daily full dose of vitamin A, can be eaten in a variety of ways to get them to release all their health benefiting vitamins and nutrients. I peel mine. Unlike apples, there is no additional health benefits to eating the skin, and I don’t like the strong flavor that gets added when carrots are not peeled.

Hubby complained that I’ve been jipping him on red onion, so I I put an entire red onion in this time. No complaints from him today, he ate his half and I’m pretty sure he even took extra onion when he was scooping out the veggies into our bowls.

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Then add cabbage and red bell pepper on top. Turn the stove on medium. Don’t over-cook, just heat up enough so that the veggies soften up a bit, but not too much. Over cooking will take out many of the good stuff I just wrote about.

I’ve already written about the anti-cancer properties of cabbage, though I didn’t mention that just like all the other veggies I mentioned, it’s full of vitamins and minerals as well.

I add red bell pepper for two reasons:

1. I enjoy the flavor, especially in combination with the rest of these veggies, and

2. Bell peppers are full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

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While the veggies are starting to sauté, I chop up the garlic (it’s important to cut it or chop it to get it to release an important enzyme), but leave it in the bowls and I don’t heat it. Garlic is an herb with much research showing that it is good for all kinds of things, including fighting a cold or flu, reduce risk for heart disease, protect against cancer, and various other medicinal benefits. You can read Dr. Mercola’s article on garlic here.

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Nothing in our house that is edible goes to waste. The broccoli stalks go to the dogs, they think they’re the best “greenie” bones ever. And the rest goes to the chickens:

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When the veggies are almost done (don’t over cook!), we add the spinach which has outstanding nutritional value including being high in iron and calcium. We add the spinach last so as to minimize how much we cook it. Actually, we turn the heat off at this point, and just fold the spinach in, the warmth of the other veggies soften the spinach but doesn’t mutilate it beyond recognition.

Scoop into bowls, add a touch of salt to increase flavor, and enjoy.

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Admit it, it looks yummy! Better than any fast food burger I’ve ever seen.

So there you have it, this is what I eat for dinner, most nights. A bowl of vitamins and minerals, literally. And no, I never get bored. Sometimes I change the flavor with different spiced peppers as mentioned earlier. Hubby likes to add turmeric. There’s a world of things you can do to change it up. If there are left overs (rarely at our house), I just heat slightly in the microwave, and add some shredded cheddar cheese on top, and yum yum yum.

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