When people ask me for dietary advice, there are many possibilities to consider. Eat a balanced diet, get enough protein, good fiber, chew your food well, and more. Yet, given the typical diets of our culture, the foremost message I might share is to EAT MORE VEGETABLES! I say that 50 percent of our diet might be mostly fresh veggies, raw, steamed, roasted, and stir-fried.
With vegetables, we get a variety of benefits:
- Loads of nutrients—vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients
- Good fiber content for good bowel function
- Water content for hydration
- Low calorie count to lessen weight problems
- Unique flavors related to each vegetable
With the vegetables, we combine with other foods, such as grains and legumes, fruits, nuts and seeds, and adequate protein from both vegetarian sources and animals, such as seafood and poultry, and less meat, avoiding lunch meats and higher fat proteins. This balance is important from our early years through life. Starting children with ways to include veggies in the diet is vitally important for long-term health.
That’s why I wrote a diet and cookbook called More Vegetables, Please! It’s a family book with loads of kid-friendly recipes that get the youngsters involved in their family’s diet—from shopping, cooking, eating, and cleaning up. Since many vegetables are relatively sweet, they can be added for taste to many recipes without picking up any weird veggie flavors. This includes main courses to desserts, and mainstream meals like meatloaf (or turkey loaf) and macaroni and cheese. Chocolate beet cake is a favorite with my staff, and yes, it has mashed sweet beets in the mix so the cake itself is very moist and flavorful.
I’ve included my Vegetarian Chili with the winter months approaching you’ll find it is a good family recipe and great for the cooler season.
Vegetarian Chili Serves 8
- 2 cups pinto beans
- 2 cups kidney beans
- 2 cups black beans
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 onions, whole, chopped
- 1 cup celery, chopped
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 cans crushed Italian tomatoes, 28 ounce each
- Dash cayenne pepper
In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the celery, onions, and jalapeño and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms, red pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, cayenne and stir for about 5 minutes. Add the beans and tomatoes, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.
Garnish with avocado, cilantro and cheese if you like. Can serve over brown rice to make a complete protein. Chili is a wonderful way to add more veggies to your meal. Variations for eating seasonally:
Spring: Green garlic, carrots, celery, peas (add at the very end)
Summer: Bell pepper, celery, summer squashes, tomatoes
Autumn: Bell peppers, carrots, Jerusalem artichoke, parsnips
Winter: Carrots, leeks, potatoes, rutabaga, winter squashes