Vegetables are Frustrating

During a recent session with Emily, we were discussing how I could get more vegetables in my life because although I get a few here and there, I really just don’t eat as many as I would like. I like how they make me feel but they definitely don’t take center stage in my food-life. We were discussing some of my obstacles to this when I had a revelation regarding vegetables. A vegetable epiphany, if you will.

When I was growing up, the vegetables in my life were canned corn, canned peas, canned green beans, or if we were feeling fancy we had a salad with lots of Thousand Island dressing glopped on top. And these vegetables were eaten mainly at dinner time, as an obligatory side to the meat and mashed potatoes & gravy.

Simple, easy, predictable.

No fuss. Just open the can, pour into a pan, add some butter, heat it up. It was barely a thought. This was in the 70s and 80s when my mom was bringing home the bacon and “having it all” except she probably felt like she had too much, and was too tired to think of anything other than canned corn. (It wasn’t until I was in junior high that I discovered frozen corn, peas, & green beans at a friend’s house and I was amazed at how much better they tasted than the canned variety.)

old_cream_corn

Libby’s Libby’s Libby’s on the label label label! (Remember that jingle?) 

(source)

So, back to my epiphany. For the first 25 years of my life, vegetables were simple and easy and I really didn’t give much thought to them. Then (dun dun DUN!) the Dieting Years hit me and suddenly I was supposed to eat ALL THE VEGGIES. I had to buy, chop, store, prepare and eat exotic vegetables such as broccoli and red peppers…I mean, how the heck do you even chop broccoli, I wondered. What do I do with a zucchini? Are baby carrots different from regular carrots? Why is this mushroom the size of a Frisbee? And if I didn’t eat them within a couple of days, I’d find them sad and wilted in the bottom of the crisper drawer and I’d have to toss them in the trash, an unceremonious funeral for my exotic veggie guests.

As I reflected back on all this and discussed it with Emily, she made the astute observation that somewhere along the way, vegetables became frustrating for me.

*Explosions! Fireworks! Lightning! Loud crashing noises!*

VEGETABLES ARE FRUSTRATING FOR ME!

This makes so much sense!! I like a lot of vegetables, I really do, but the money and the time and the cleaning and the chopping and the steaming/roasting/boiling/grilling of it all leaves me a little fatigued, honestly. I have this preconceived notion that VEGETABLES ARE WORK and are something I have to really plan for and think about. I rely heavily on bagged salad because there is literally no work involved – open the bag, add some dressing, BOOM! DONE. But I get tired of all-salad-all-the-time, and now that I know I have this limiting belief about veggies, I can break on through to the cruciferous side. So even though it might hurt my wallet’s feelings to buy precut broccoli & cauliflower, I think it will be worth it while I’m making them a habit. When celery and I become BFFs, then maybe I’ll buy the whole veg and chop it at home myself. Or maybe not – maybe this will be a small thing I splurge on because it’s worth it to me.

Either way, it’s awesome to finally know what my deal is with vegetables and now I can work on finding new and delicious ways to incorporate them into my life.

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12 thoughts on “Vegetables are Frustrating

  1. I don’t remember where I read it… but I’ve taken the advice to heart. I frequently buy pre-cut veggies – the broccoli, cauliflower yes, but also the “soup starter” celery, onion, pepper… The stir fry mix of peppers, onions, zucchini… When you see the price you think -ugh! No Way!! BUT… If you were to buy these foods in their whole form – there is waste to contend with… seeds, stems and the mere fact that WE ARE LAZY and the odds of whole, uncut veggies rotting in the crisper are a far higher price paid then the up front cost of convenience. And you have the joy of fresh healthy stir fry without all the effort… The family is impressed… win – win !

    • I love those “seasoning blends” – onions/celery/red pepper is the one I’m currently using. So easy peasy!!

      I love your justification – my time is worth something too, so why not buy the precut and eliminate the waste?? 🙂

  2. We use frozen veggies for the exact reasons you mention – I am talking peas, greens beans, broccoli florets. We put them in a lot of stuff. (Eggs for example.) We use green beans as a replacement for noodles or rice in things. Extremely easy in frozen state, just open the bag and pour. This makes a huge difference. (Green beans in particular, fresh just became thing that never got done.) So, we keep the freezer well stocked with those three veggies.

    Carrots and mushrooms and asparagus and bell pepper and zucchini and onions and tomatoes we use fresh, those just get washed and chopped (not peeled). Red potatoes get used in very very scant amounts, those too get scrubbed and chopped (not peeled).

    Cucumber is the only thing I can think of that I peel. I use sliced cucumber as a holder (instead of crackers). It replaces the crunch and works really well.

  3. I am all in favor of you buying the pre-chopped fresh veggies. I like what Lynn said about justifying the price. I might even buy a few of those myself!

    I grew up with the canned vegetables too, and I still like a few of them–corn, creamed corn, green beans sometimes. My mom used frozen veggies sometimes, but I am generally not a fan of frozen vegetables. The texture is off. Except for baby peas 🙂

    When I started eating healthier, at first I resented all the chopping, but now I think of it as a substitute for the baking that I don’t do as often. Of course, not having a 40 hour a week job helps too 🙂

    • I don’t mind eating canned veggies, my husband is a big fan of the canned stuff so we still have them from time to time. I’m not such a fan of frozen green beans, but I like everything else.

      Yes to prechopped veggies!! 🙂

  4. Yay to a veggie journey!! When I started eating “cleaner” it was amazing how limited my veg consumption was and like you it was because I didn’t want to waste money on food that spoiled before i ate it. I had stopped eating can veggies when in a high school biology class we took canned pineapple and put it on gelation – no reaction. Fresh pineapple ate thru the gelatin??? EWWW no thank you. My mother would boil broccoli until it became cauliflower — no joke!!

    Some things I like, maybe you will too?
    I discovered that metal steamer thing – I LOVE IT. I love steamed veggies, cooked just enough to retain a crisp crunch. I know they now have the frozen steamer bags for the micro – I don’t have one, and those bags seem to be the same size, and carry a high price tag than regular veg.

    For Salads: I buy the box of salad mix from safeway for $5 and then a bag of the $5 Cauliflower/Broccoli/Carrots to add to it. This lasts me a good five days for work lunches Then I add in canned beets and olives.. is there another alternative that is cost effective? Cukes and Tomatoes maybe some frozen peppers and left over protein or tuna mix.

    Zoodles!!! Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Grey Squash thru a spiralizer – sooo good and much lighter than pasta. I don’t really miss pasta!!

      • I have zoodle bolognaise and really don’t miss the pasta, even though I don’t like zucchini much other ways. I don’t have a spiralizer machine, I use a thing that looks like a potato peeler but the blade serrated so it cuts lots of thin strips at once. Takes up a lot less room in the drawer, but probably less fun.

        I don’t like frozen veges because of the texture, and I only have canned corn and beetroot. Everything else is fresh and chopped at home but it’s taken me a long time to get to the reasonable level of vegetable consumption I’m at now. I can chop much faster now!

  5. OK, since you put the dang Libby’s jingle in my head, I’m going to suggest (evil grin) that you google Dana Carvey’s Choppin’ Broccoli just for fun. 😉

    I buy chopped broccoli and roast it. YES IT’S CHEAPER TO BUY A BUNCH (Mother), but I’m way more likely to actually cook it if I don’t have to work so hard. So I gave myself permission to take the easy route when it comes to vegetables and as a result, I’m more likely to eat them. Push that easy button when it comes to veggies!

    • OMG!! FOR YEARS my sister and I would sing the Choppin Broccoli song to each other!! It’s one of those things that I sing a lot that nobody gets – I’m so glad someone else remembers it!! 🙂

  6. I also get frustrated when I have to toss out wilted fresh veggies. What I have now started doing is I only buy fresh veggies that are ingredients in meals for the coming week, but I also buy frozen veggies just to have on hand. Take a look in your freezer aisle , they now have veggies (preseasoned or saucy ones too, if you prefer) in steamable bags that you just pop in the microwave and it’s done

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