Sunday, November 2, 2014

5 Day Veggie Challenge

I'm going to be honest with all of you right now.... I do not eat enough vegetables. I know! I know! "But you're going to be a dietitian and dietitians are perfect!!" Nope, sorry to burst your bubble. We are not perfect... Don't let anyone fool you into thinking they are. Because, just like all of you, we are human. I know, right!? SHOCKER!! My undergrad friends and I had a would always say, "Just because we are going to be dietitians doesn't mean we eat healthier, it just means we really know what all that bad stuff is doing to us!" :-D

Since coming to this revelation and admitting my imperfection, I decided to find a way to encourage myself to eat more things leafy, fibrous, and down-right earthy! Well, as someone with a very competitive spirit (need proof? Fantasy football leagues. 'Nuff said..), I decided to come up with a "Veggie Challenge!"

This challenge is seconding as a bit of a "detox" for me as well. I say "detox" because this is often a word that makes me shutter at the mention of it. The reason for this reaction is that many times a "detox" includes a prolonged period of deprivation and, quite honestly, malnutrition. These include the typical juice detox, grapefruit detox, or whatever have you. Detoxes that call for the participant to severely limit their food choices for a select amount of time often leaving that person deprived of key nutrients needed for human functionality. While these fad detoxes have the right goal, to rid the body of harmful chemicals and cleanse the overworked system, it does so by compromising nutrition and could leave the person in a not-so recharged state. The worse cases could even end in a visit to the hospital.

Also, your body does naturally detox! Every time "nature calls" or you sweat, that is exactly what is happening; detoxification. So going to extreme measures to detox your body is not necessary. However, if your body is use to consuming junk and processed food, it could use a little TLC. Thus, where vegetables come into play! Their job is not only to provide us with vitamins and minerals, but also to help clean out our systems of that icky stuff. Which is why we should be eating 3-4 servings every day!!

Therefore, my "detox" is one of a different color. Instead of an emphasis on eliminating foods from my plate, my plan of action will be on what foods I will be adding. VEGGIES! Yes, those good ol' vegetables. And not just the juice, the whole darn plant! While this may be one of my pitfalls, I must say I do have good intentions! I go to the grocery store and add a good variety of produce to my cart. But once I get them home and in the fridge, that is often where there stay until one day I notice a peculiar smell coming from the veggie drawer...

So, the main reason for this challenge is to get myself inspired to cook with more vegetables and feel more comfortable about making them the star of my meals. As stated above, the other reason is my boyfriend and I did not have the best diet these past few weeks while he was visiting me in STL (there are just soooo many awesome restaurants to try!!!) So I thought a 5 day veggie "detox" would be the best way to, well, detox!

Here are the criteria for the challenge:
  • Include at least 1 vegetable at every meal; breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • A vegetable(s) must be the star of the main dish at dinner
  • Limit intake of dairy, gluten, and meat, although they are not off limits
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • If you are hungry, EAT!!

Sounds similar to other detoxes out there, but, in my opinion, much less daunting! Plus, there is much more room for innovation and fun compared to other, more restrictive detoxes! My goal is that by the end of this week I will feel more focused and less sluggish than I have since my boyfriend's and my indulgent-fest. And, while I know study's show it takes 66 days to form a habit, my hope is that I also find it easier to incorporate veggies into every meal once these 5 days are up.

Just for a refresher, the following are just some of the benefits of eating more vegetables:
  • FULL of vitamins and minerals
  • FULL of antioxidants and flavanoids (which help prevent cancer)
  • Contain fiber and water (which helps keep your "inner plumbing" running smooth)
  • Help satisfy your "crunch" cravings
For the sake of keeping this post fairly short and to allow you all the opportunity to be creative in your approach, I will only include the dinner recipes I will be using this week for the detox, not every meal. They are as follow:

Monday: Whole Food's Butternut Squash Soup

Tuesday: TJ's Crab Cakes on a Quinoa Vegetable Pilaf and Steamed Brussels Spouts 

Wednesday: Panera's Organic Vegetarian Chili with TJ's Pumpkin Cornbread

Thursday: Spinach Alfredo Spaghetti Squash

Want more information on how to get your veg on? Visit

What is your favorite to-go vegetable? How do you prepared it?

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