The Daily Beet

10 Nov Adventures with Ami: Plant-Strong 101 Fruits and Veggies

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If you had to name as many varieties of vegetables as you could, how many do you think you could name? Seven, fifteen, thirty-three? What about Four hundred? 400?! I have a poster in my sun room that is an illustrated guide to over 400 varieties of vegetables. I wish I had it printed on a business sized card so I could hand it to people who say this way of eating is boring.  With so many colors, flavors and items to choose from in the vegetable world, there is something for everyone to enjoy.  There are so many varieties of potatoes showing up at the market these days, old heirloom varieties in an array of colors and flavors.  I love the blue potatoes, what fun! Vegetables are low in calorie density, loaded with nutrients and add interest, flavor and texture to your dishes.  What is your favorite vegetable? When was the last time you tried a new-to-you vegetable?  Have you ever grown your own vegetables?  I often have people say, “I don’t like kale, so I can’t be plant-strong.” Ok, so don’t eat kale. There are hundreds of other vegetables to choose from. Eat what you like, believe it or not, everybody has a favorite, some folks love turnips, others go crazy for green peas.  All vegetables are great!

Fruit is easier.  Everybody has a favorite fruit. Added on top of oatmeal, as a mid-morning snack or tossed in with a salad, fruit is great for everybody!  I love trying new fruit that I might see in the produce section.  I buy just one piece or sometimes two, so my husband can try a piece as well.  You never know…it could be your new favorite!  Fruits and vegetables add the fun to the whole grains, starchy veggies and legumes that we love so much.  It is with fruits and vegetables that we make our dishes have personality.  We answer so many questions about fruit, organic vs. non-organic, GMO’s etc.  The fruit that you choose is personal.  Fresh or frozen, organic or not, the choice is yours.

The same holds true for vegetables, only you can decide what is important to you.  Some folks will ONLY eat fresh broccoli, others don’t have a preference.  Frozen produce also means less time chopping and less waste.  Frozen fruit and vegetables are often flash frozen at the farm, making them even fresher than the fresh stuff that travels by truck to your grocer.  It also means you can enjoy a wide variety of fruit all year.  I love using frozen fruit to cool down my piping hot oatmeal every morning.  I also love tossing some frozen mango chunks into a bowl for a tasty frozen snack.  Canned veggies can be great too, we do recommend looking for reduced sodium or no salt added varieties though.  The sodium in canned goods can be really high.  Having things like diced tomatoes on hand all the time is a great way to cut down on the amount of time spent in the kitchen.

Fruits and vegetables make up a big part of plant-based living.  Starchy veggies like potatoes and squash can be stored in a cool dark space which is great news! As your refrigerator space may be packed full of leafy greens, carrot chips, celery stalks and jicama sticks.  We often hear that people have a hard time fitting all that produce in the fridge.  This is when cooking in bulk can come in handy.  Cook it up and freeze it for another day.  Also, chopping up fruit and vegetables as soon as you get them home from the market can help you save space as well.  The added bonus of doing this means you always have a ready made snack for moments when you need something right now.

Add color and variety to your favorite meals by utilizing these amazing plants every single day.

Next week…whole grains!

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Ami Mackey
Ami Mackey

Ami Mackey is a food coach at Engine 2 Extra and has been plant-strong since 2011. She is also the Program Director at St Louis All City Boxing a nonprofit youth program. She earned certificates from eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition & Fitness Nutrition from NASM.

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  • Leah

    Great positive post. I love the variety an colors of plant-based living! It brings such joy to my kitchen! :)

  • Stephanie Zinn

    Who thinks eating this way is boring? Boring is eating only foods that are beige/white. ick

  • Nancy J

    My daughter and I belong to a local Community Share – it’s just over 2 miles from my home and I am grateful. We’re never sure what we’re going to get. Once I got home with our stash on Saturday I spent a few hours on Saturday and a few more on Sunday morning and this is what I have split between our fridges and freezers.

    A big batch of plant only stuffed cabbage; a big pot of sweet potato, two bean chili; 4 pounds of peeled and cut carrots; several bags of diced onions; about 5 pounds of cooked yukon golds; 3 pounds of cooked golden beets; five heads of cleaned lettuce, arugula. It feels like Christmas!

    • Leah

      Mmmm…! So Sunday afternoon is a great time for your friends to visit? :)