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Stop dissing vegetables. July 16, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in gardening, recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. One of my pet peeves is people telling us not to eat various veggies because they’re not packed with nutrients. In an era when Americans are fighting an obesity epidemic and the most-consumed vegetable in America is the French fry, this is ludicrous, harmful, and just plain wrong. So I was really steamed (so to speak) when I turned on the computer this morning and saw that Yahoo! had highlighted an article from SELF magazine under the head “Top 3 Worst Veggies.”

The three that had ended up on the list were celery, cucumbers, and Iceberg lettuce. And of course there are plenty of other contenders, from zucchini to radishes. But let’s confine ourselves to the three featured in the story. Celery has 6—count them, 6—calories per 8-ounce piece of stalk, plus tons of fiber and water. In other words, it fills you up, not out. Cukes pack a whopping 16 calories in an entire cup of slices, plus tons of water. And the endlessly demonized Iceberg lettuce provides tons of satisfying crunch and hydrating water for, guess what, pretty close to zero calories per serving.

Not that I have a bad thing to say about the author’s suggestions for substitutions: carrots, purslane, and Romaine lettuce. I love carrots. I’ve never actually eaten purslane, but I noticed a purslane plant growing as a weed in our neighbor’s vegetable bed the other day and was thinking about swiping it to add to one of our salads along with that other nutritious weedy green, baby lamb’s-quarters.

And our friend Ben and I adore Romaine lettuce and include it in all our salads, though I confess I was dumbfounded to see the author’s suggestion that you should substitute a “wedge” of Romaine for a wedge of Iceberg in a classic blue cheese crumble. I would very much like to see the author produce a wedge from a head of Romaine lettuce! Far better to use whole leaves in a luscious Caprese salad with sliced ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh whole basil leaves, sliced scallions, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of good salt. If you’re craving the classic blue cheese wedge, stick to Iceberg.

But I digress. Let’s make a salad out of the three proscribed vegetables. Tear or cut up a head of Iceberg, slice those cukes and celery stalks. Toss in chopped scallions, sliced radishes, and a few cherry tomatoes if you’d like to add more flavor, savor and crunch. Add your favorite fresh or dried herbs (we love basil, thyme and mint in salads), a squeeze of lemon or lime or a splash of balsamic (or your favorite) vinegar, a grind of black or lemon pepper, a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil, and a sprinkling of sea salt, Himalayan rock salt, or RealSalt to taste. Toss everything well, and fill your bowl.

Eat up! You’ll be getting tons of flavor, fiber and satisfaction for less than 100 calories a delicious, filling bowlful. Sure beats a 1500-calorie serving of oily fries, don’t you think?

                  ‘Til next time,




1. Tatyana - July 16, 2011

Ridiculous! Cucumbers contains iodine, celery is a good source of Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Calcium, Magnesium and Phosphorus, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Potassium and Manganese… Why go to extremes? I prefer a variety of vegetables, common sense in consumption, balance. Then, sugar and sodium in celery won’t harm.

So true, Tatyana!

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