I just had my yearly physical and tried not to lie too much about my actual level of exercise, which ranges from “nonexistent” to “a couple walks” in a week. I’m not sure what lying to the doctor actually accomplishes, since, like murder, bad health will out. My cholesterol had been pretty borderline unacceptable last year, and I expected more of the same, although I whined to the doctor that “I eat lots of vegetables!” She only smiled at me, knowing no amount of wishful thinking can lower cholesterol.
Imagine our mutual surprise when the results of my blood work came back: I was in the normal range for everything! Not “living on the edge” in any category! God bless vegetables because I know for a fact (nearly total lack of) exercise didn’t save me.
And yet, do I really eat a lot of vegetables? I have some fruit with breakfast, maybe half a cup. Some fruit or veg at lunch — maybe another half to whole cup. And then veg at dinner — say one cup.
So my average daily totals come to about a cup of fruit and 1.5 cups of vegetables. And I love produce and the farmers market! It turns out I’m not the ten-percenter I thought I was.
The Center for Disease Control recommends 1.5 - 2 cups of fruit per day and 2 - 3 cups of vegetables. Why do only 10% of Americans hit this mark? The CDC posits high cost, limited access and higher prep time. All true, compared to cheap (subsidized), ubiquitous, ready-to-eat processed food. Then there’s the taste factor: I usually eat salad because I ought to, not because I like it. And if I like it, it’s usually because it was prepared with a dressing loaded with sugar. (If you don’t believe me, check the labels on the bottles of salad dressing in your fridge.)
But fall is a lovely time to try to eat like the ten percent. Not only are plenty of seasonal fruits available, to be devoured out of hand with no trouble at all, but we can all take a break from salads and just throw everything in the oven and roast it. Onions, cauliflower, potatoes, squash, sweet potatoes, peppers, carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, beets, tomatoes. You name the fall vegetable, and it can be roasted. All at the same time (or in stages on the same pan). Easy peasy. And you can make a ton, when you’re in a chopping mood. Anything left over can just be reheated the next day in the oven. This is a great strategy for families, too, since everyone can just pick out the vegetables he or she finds palatable. Leftover roasted vegetables can also be thrown in pastas, soups, sandwiches, and tacos, or used to top pizzas.
This week at the Market, grab a barrel of seasonal vegetables and have a roast-a-thon. Eat like the ten percent, if only for a week, to see how it goes.
It beats exercise, anyhow.