Stop Being Scared of Vegetables

Momma said eat your greens. Mashed potatoes? Handled. Steak? Already gone. Applesauce? Done and done. Asparagus? Nope. Broccoli? Nope. Peas? Nope nope nope. Salad? At least you can drench it in Ranch dressing.

Red meat shouldn’t be the staple of every meal. “Lite” meals shouldn’t consist of two chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, or a fistful of ground beef carved up to fit in a burrito.

…I’ve been trying to find “perfect meals.” All-in-ones that taste perfect and are incredibly healthy. The kinds of foods you look at and say, “Yeah. I can eat that,” even when there’s that green stuff on it. A perfect meal, for example, is a hefty salad with a single serving of baked chicken, lots of sunflower seeds, a few crispy onions, and an oil-based dressing. Why would I call it a perfect meal? Because it is.

4 oz of steak is a serving. How many steakhouses even offer 4 oz unless it’s a “healthy choice” or “lite choice” menu item? None I’ve been to in my entire life. 1 chicken breast is a serving. Serving sizes are so much smaller than Tyson or Longhorn Steakhouse wants us to believe. It’s smart to give you four servings of meat on a single plate and charge you 4x the price of a single serving for it and hope nobody catches on: it’s called good business. But it isn’t good health.

Lettuce isn’t marketable, so you’ll never find a Texas Greenhouse or an Outback Saladhouse. Ruby Tuesday will always be the fifth pick down a line of commercial eatieries.

Always eat your greens. Always have more greens than protien and you’ll live a healthier life. In fact, some simple advice is this: skip fast food, skip an upended Atkins-style carb-free diet (yes, a diabetic is saying this) and go green. No joke. You’ll shed pounds like an onion sheds tears, and you’ll be so full of energy you won’t know what to do. Maybe actually play football instead of eating cheetos and salsa.

A popular show on Discovery called Dual Survival pits a barefoot hippie on steroids against an ex-marine survivalist to see which style works best in what situation. They trek across the globe seeking some of the more inhospitable biomes to showcase their abilities. Not surprisingly, the hippie forages for grubs and greens while the marine hunts red meat. Given this is a “show and tell” survival show, producers trap pigs for the big burly man to catch and kill just to give the watcher an example of what to do.

Every time the hippie shows up with a bowl full of food, the ex-marine scoffs and fire-hardens his spear: vegetables don’t make a meal for him.

It should.

We Americans have this mindset that meat is the center of a balanced meal. Or maybe just the ones in the Midwest. Yet obesity and diabetes is skyrocketing. Huh. Good red-blooded, God-fearing carnivorous meat-eaters are the salt of the earth. I can’t disagree. If it works for them, great. But I don’t know of a heavy meat-eater that doesn’t have rumbly jowels and a swollen stomach that prefers to watch football than hike a mountain trail. It might be my inexperience showing. I don’t know.

What I do know is spending three years with a vegetarian that was once fruititarian has opened my eyes to an alternative lifestyle. So many people (like the ex-marine) are terrified of not getting their huge flanksteak for dinner. Their body, of course, wants meat. Does the body NEED red meat? No. It needs protein, but not nearly as much as one would think. Does the body NEED the nutrients in the greens? Yep. And you can’t ever get too much. In fact, if you go without red meat for six months, you’re disgustingly sick in the bathroom after you eat three pieces of bacon. Believe me. I’ve been there. And I had to relearn that lesson several times. The body runs differently on white-meat diet.

Fowl meat is healthier than red meat. Fish and seafood healthier than that. Not saying you should give up on the red wine, but healthy living comes from less red.

That being said, if you want to live a healthier lifestyle without working any harder, cut out the red, put in the green. Just like a stoplight. Green means go.

Simpler is usually better. Simplest is best: all vegetarian works wonders, as long as you find ways to incorporate non-meat protein in your diet.




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