As we find ourselves a few weeks in to the Covid-19 pandemic, I want to remind you to heed the advice of our wise mothers. We all know that vegetables are good for us, but many of us are not that crazy about them... and for good reason!
As I was growing up in the 70s, my mother always featured vegetables at our dinner table. Unfortunately, my working mother did not have the time or inclination to shop for and cook fresh veggies. She worked full-time and had 4 kids and my dad to cook for, so our dinner vegetables came from a frozen box in the freezer or a can in the cupboard. Birdseye and Green Giant were famous names at our table. Canned or frozen, they were boiled to death to make sure they were cooked and a dallop of yellow margarine was added at an attempt to flavor them. Our vegetables of the day were usually peas, carrots or corn, or in other words, starch. Salads were usually only served on the weekends for Sunday dinner with plenty of Wishbone Italian dressing. Occasionally, Mom served soggy brussel sprouts in an attempt to serve us something really healthy. They were not popular but we had to eat at least a couple of sprouts before we could be “excused.” I don’t remember EVER having broccoli as a child!
Don’t get me wrong, my mom was a great cook when she had the time. Her famous vegetables were fried okra or squash, (delicious!) but only on occasion. Once I got older, I realized that my mom didn’t much like vegetables either. She grew up on a cotton farm in Oklahoma and that diet mainly consisted of fried pork chops, fried chicken, and “chicken-fried” steak with a side of mashed potatoes and white gravy. The usual “vegetable” to accompany this would be corn or sometimes peas. So, for my mother to serve vegetables that she didn’t even like was her way of trying to raise healthy kids.
As my children were growing up, I pretty much followed my mother’s example. The only difference is, I added spinach, asparagus, and “mixed” vegetable combinations, mostly frozen or canned and all flavorless! As the kids got older, I started occasionally steaming broccoli and cauliflower in the microwave! Wow, I was quite the chef!
What a difference a generation makes! Today’s veggie selections are incredible! I am no longer bound by the canned and frozen food aisle. I’m amazed everytime I wander throught the produce department. Every kind of vegetable is available and if you’re like me and not in to food prep, you can buy almost any vegetable, washed, chopped, sliced and diced! I don’t even remember what it’s like to start with a head of lettuce to make a salad! Now we have The Food Network and the internet to provide a myriad of ways to prepare vegetables we never dreamed we would eat.
We also have these wonderful appliances like air fryers and instant pots. I’ve made the most delicious organic collard greens in my instant pot, something I would never have the patience for on the stove. I have recently started making kale chips in the air fryer and they are so easy and healthy! A few years ago, I discovered roasting almost any vegetable with EVOO and salt makes all of them delicious! Try mashed cauliflower as a great healthy alternative to mashed potatoes. Who hasn’t tried sauteed or roasted brussel sprouts?... the once despised vegetable, now featured as an appetizer at your favorite restaurant.
Ladies and Gigis, today we have every opportunity to eat healthy. Teach your grandchildren to love vegetables by trying different varieties and cooking methods and by eating them yourself. That’s a legacy I want to pass on to my grandkids. Eat your veggies because they are not only good for you, but they taste good too! While you’re at it, make it organic!