I cannot put it off any longer. For almost forty years I have been shirking my vegetable consuming responsibilities and now it is time to face them. Don’t get me wrong, I would try to lean towards healthy eating often enough. If I decided to treat myself with a bit of fudge I always went for the pumpkin or cranberry variety to get some of my fruit requirement in.
When picking out ice cream flavor I would choose a vanilla base- vanilla being a type of bean. If went out to eat and was asked which side I would like with my entrée I would pick the French fries to get potatoes (a veggie after all) in with the meal. And, of course, I never held the lettuce, onion, or tomato on my burger. The pickles I would toss aside, you can only go so far on the health kick.
But for some reason all of the hard work above was not enough. Apparently I needed to take a more thorough and active stance on eating vegetables in their natural form. I have been told that they are a necessary part of the diet and eating more of them will help my health and my BMI. But as someone who has taken great pains to avoid them whenever possible, where to begin?
I like the idea of corn- well cornfields anyway. They present such a nice image of middle-America and kids with overalls and ribbons frolicking in the fields. But a super healthy cousin who has a small farm in her backyard (too weird, even for my family, a farm in Massachusetts,) informed me that corn is now the root of all evil.
Seems, she insists, that we Americans eat too much corn and give too much of it to our livestock and that is why we are falling apart. I guess that is good news. It is only the idea of corn that I like, the actual stuff is icky.
Ok, I can handle a salad. I will go with that. But no, it turns out iceberg lettuce is really just a big clump of green water. It is not that healthy, the experts are starting to say.
I was about to give up when a friend directed me to Dr. Terry Wahls website that shows a super good-for-you eating plan, designed especially for people with multiple sclerosis. At first, it was terrifying. Dr. Wahls wants you to eat nine cups of green leafy vegetables a day! That just seemed insane and totally overwhelming.
But I was committed so I continued exploring. One of the veggies she recommends is spinach. Well, I can kind of deal with that. Especially if I use the bagged, dry spinach and load it with dressing in order to pretend it is salad. That might work for me. The wet stuff Popeye used to chug is out of the question but maybe I could accept the dry stuff.
Then Dr. Wahls said something wonderful, something I could totally work with. It turns out that kale is a green leafy full of all kinds of nutrients and good stuff! Wow, I thought only Portuguese people knew about kale.
And I had no idea it was a vegetable! Is Dr. Wahls sure about this? I always thought kale was just a soup additive that you got from your grandmother’s house or your cousin’s yard (oh yeah, a farm, now I get it).
This whole time it seems we Portuguese folks were already on the health track! I did some more research and it turns out that kale is the new black, meaning, it is the new super food. And since it is super good for ms’ers, it is the new orange as well. Yay!
It shouldn’t surprise me that my Portuguese friends and family were leading the way in this regard. Didn’t our Brazilian cousins discover last year’s new super food- the Acai berry? Who knows what we will discover next? Maybe the delicious Portuguese pastry trutas are the next super food? Why not? Trutas are filled with sweet potato so there you go! We Portuguese folks have now discovered three new super foods.
What about codfish cakes? The poor cod is one ugly fish but he is a fish and so maybe filled with good proteins and stuff. Hey, I bet he eats kale too so if you eat codfish cakes you might be getting protein AND a vegetable.
And then there is the wine. I don’t care what the French or the Napa Valley people say, the best wine comes from Portugal. And, research shows that red wine is really good for you. The experts suggest drinking it in moderation but I know a lot of other experts that drink it all day and they seem pretty healthy. They are pretty vocal and animated at least.
I guess my dad knew what he was doing when we visited his homeland when I was twelve and he wouldn’t let me drink American soda. “You are in Portugal and will drink wine like all the other Portuguese kids!” I thought he was being weird. Turns out, he was just worried about my health.
Encouraged and energized, I set out to start my new healthy eating plan and the world fell into place! A nice, hot bowl of kale soup filled with all things good. Vegetables- kale-who knew, potatoes, and a tiny bit of carrots to give the soup some extra color (carrots are no longer one of the best veggies and I don’t want to muck up the soup up too badly), beans-this soup just gets healthier and healthier, linguica- protein, thank you, and salt pork.
I don’t know too much about salt pork- is it a vegetable too? Even if it is not it just adds a bit flavor so how bad can it be? Red wine, some Portuguese bread- hello-grains, butter- dairy of course, codfish cakes as a side- all kinds of health benefit there, and trutas for dessert. Repeat this meal nine times a day. I love Dr. Wahl. This is going to be a cinch!