Love You Like a Fresh Vegetable

Gotta give it up to the man Tony Rebel. His song Fresh Vegetable came out in 1990, and I still sing the chorus in my head almost every time I make a salad. Listen to it here! Just like Tony Rebel, I love fresh vegetables. They’re good for me, they’re delicious, and sometimes — this might sound crazy to the carnivores — but sometimes I really do prefer a veggie meal to a meat-laden dish. By exercising regularly and eating healthy veggies of all colors, I’m loving myself. It’s a beautiful thing.

You already know that I tend to make a lot of stir fry meals and dinner salads, but sometimes I get bored with them. So I have a suggestion that comes to the rescue whenever I wind up stuck for a dinner idea. Here’s what you do. Make yourself some kind of yummy protein — that could be steak — made this this week, and it was amazing! Or chicken or fish or tofu or perhaps some kind of delicious veggie casserole… you get it. Are you hungry yet? I am!

OK, you have your delicious protein, and if you’re like me, you need a hot side dish that doesn’t take too long to prepare. Forget potatoes and heavy, starchy sides. Steamed veggies are where it’s at. Check out this South Beach Diet article on traditional methods of steaming. It is SO easy. Especially now that there are steaming bags of all varieties in the grocery store!

I usually buy the veggies that come in the bag you can just puncture with a fork and stick in the microwave for a few minutes.

But recently, I’ve fallen in love with the Ziploc Zip N Steam microwave steam cooking bags. These are SO EASY!! Each bag comes printed with instructions for each veggie (or you can even cook salmon, shrimp, or chicken in the bag… haven’t done that yet. Chicken in the microwave makes me think of Hottie from Flavor of Love. Um, no).


All you do is put your veggies in the bag, add whatever spices you want, seal, and steam. No need to add water! So far I’ve made everything from cheesy broccoli to corn on the cob to garlicky asparagus. And if you can’t do without the carbs, potatoes also steam up super easy (14 minutes or thereabouts, and they are PERFECTO). By the by, Glad also has microwave bags, but I don’t like them as much — they’ve got this weird shape at the bottom (so they can stand up) and it seems to me that they don’t hold as much as the Ziploc kind.

Vegetables are like the fountain of youth. They offer incredible health benefits to almost every part of you. Eating veggies can make you beautiful and strong, from your hair (see Hair Apparent on AOL’s Black Voices blogs recommends green veggies for faster hair growth), to your heart. It’s still American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women month, so allow me to remind you to check out their website to educate yourself about heart disease. (psst — did you do that heart checkup yet?)

In addition to helpful information about caring for your ticker, the AHA has a few recipes that are quite good. My favorite is the awesome fresh veggie and Canadian bacon pizza recipe that I made to great acclaim (I used a store bought low fat whole wheat pizza crust as a timesaver). I also find loads of good veggie recipes on the Food Network. Giada’s recipes are my favorite! I love the idea of her cornbread panzanella salad. I’ve made her anytime vegetable salad, and it’s to DIE for. I am a fool for edamame, and this salad is just yummylicious. Love it!

Another quick n’ easy dinner time tip requires a little bit of preparation on the weekend. Spend your Sunday afternoon preparing a healthy veggie base and you are golden for the week. Trust me. Here’s the recipe for day-by-day vegetable medley, which is a blessing for the busy. It’s a ratatouille-like mixture of peppers, onions, eggplant, and mushrooms. You can remix it by adding squash and zucchini, and all you need to do is sautee, or you can bring out a different flavor and roast the ingredients on a baking sheet in the oven (for like 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees). Make a big batch, spoon it into five individual dishes, and freeze. The recipes recommended for the medley include pizzas (yummy), shrimp with rice (I prefer couscous), or a Greek-style chicken stew that looks delicious. Will try it and let you all know.

I’ve also been getting great tips from one of my best friends since freshman year of college… my friend Jenny is studying to be a nutritionist at Colombia! She’s got a blog called Eat Orange and Green, which is an homage to our alma mater (Go Canes!) and as Jenny says, “if you eat orange and green produce every day, you are almost guarateed to meet all your vitamin and mineral needs.” She’s finally posting semi-regularly, and she’s got some really interesting food tips. I discovered my new favorite snack through her — almonds! Blue Diamond has some really delicious new varieties of natural oven roasted almonds. My current fave is the vanilla bean almonds. They’re sweet and mild, but not TOO sweet, and I’ve been adding them to my breakfast cereal and afternoon vanilla Activia yogurt snack.

Do you have any new favorite healthy eating tips? Share with me!

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Comments

  1. Mrs.Mckinzie says:

    I love to go to the Whole Foods Market ,and get there Tofurky products .They are so good,and they have lunch meat,breakfast links,bratworst,breakfast patties,bacon,and so much more.I love to make oatmeal in the morning with vanilla soy milk,and it taste so good if you mix a little granola cereal in it.I also like to make omlets out of eggs whites,soy provolone cheese,onion,salt,pepper,and if I have time i’ll chop some tomatoe.One last thing that I love to make is Baked salmon,and sprinkle a little Mrs. Dash On it(the one with the green top),salt,olive oil,and black pepper.

  2. Oh, great post! I like the low sugar quaker oat meal with a couple of tablespoons of bran flakes for added fiber. This meal will keep you energized and satiated for up to 4 hours and it’s less than 200 calories!

  3. Great post! I started on a health kick a few months ago and have found it to be extremely gratifying. In addition to working out regularly, I have a new obsession with vegetables. My favorites are peppers of all colors. I use them in just about everything. I’m also a huge fan of fresh herbs. There is nothing like steamed veggies. They are naturally sweet. I use a bamboo steamer to steam mine and have used it to steam fresh salmon which is just delish. I also try to experiment with new ingredients regularly. I tried a persimmon for the first time the other day and I have this inspiration for a fennel and jicama salad with citrus dressing that’s swirling around in my mind, but I haven’t tried it yet. I’m also addicted to steel-cut oatmeal and short-grain brown rice. Who knew eating well could be so much fun?!

  4. Esteban Agosto Reid says:

    Great post!!RESPECT!!

  5. I definitely agree with you on the veggie tip. I love veggies and like you, sometimes prefer to keep my meal simple and with no meat. It’s funny though, people sometimes freak out like “Huh, no meat?” And I’m like “What’s the big deal…geesh!”

  6. Great post. We eat a lot of no to low meat meals, because it’s cheaper for one thing, for another once you get used to eating like that, you’re not as interested in a lot of meat. I can’t believe that when I was a teenager my favorite pizza was the Meat Lovers! Now I love veggie pizzas! I’m a mom, and one of the things I’ve done that is easy and fast and good for the kids and they like it is switching to whole wheat pasta. My kids love it, prefer it to white flour pasta. Whole wheat spaghetti with a red sauce is a very good meal for them, and cheap and fast, and I like to cut up zucchini and throw that in. I always cook extra pasta and use the extra the next day mixed in with veggies and an egg and sautee it in olive oil (frittata). Very good.

  7. I also use my breadmaker to mix up my own pizza crust dough. You just use your favorite pizza crust dough recipe, throw the stuff in the breadmaker in the order your machine dictates, turn it on, and about 1-1/2 hours later, you got dough! It really is fast and easy. I’m going to have to look into those Ziploc steamer bags. That looks like the stuff.

  8. Afrobella, LOVE this post. Vegetables are the best. I’ve been reading “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollen, which I highly recommend — it talks about what we eat, the history of nutrition science, politics, and the food industry, and how to really “eat healthy.” Anyway, he talks a lot about the good of vegetables and why we should have more of them. Preferably organic ones. So I couldn’t agree more with today’s post!

  9. I’ve been on healthy eating overdrive for about a year now. I lost over 35 pounds last year and I’m loving the results(still indulge my ice cream addiction every now and then…hahahahah). One of the best things I purchased for my kitchen is a rice cooker and steamer. But how about I’ve never cooked rice in it??? LOL I steam fish/seafood and veggies in it at least 3 times a week. Its easy and quick (aprroximately 10 minutes to steam fish). Sometimes I’ll just cut up fresh veggies and toss them in until I can’t fit anymore in the steamer. I’ll sprinkle some fresh ground pepper and Mrs. Dash (no salt..the Garlic Herb is the best) and I have a flavorful healthy meal.

    Steamers are relatively inexpensive and over time will cost less than buying those Zip Loc bags or the frozen veggies in the steamer bags.

  10. J to the C says:

    Okay Patrice…gotta tell you I was wrestling in my head about going to McDonald’s and being a dollar menuaire (oh I love that damn dollar menu and hate it just as much) but this post has kept me sane.
    I’m doing everything I can to stay away from fastfood and it’s a struggle some days. Why I’m writing this, I don’t know. but it is. And I’m glad to see these veggies staring me in the face screaming “Don’t do it.”
    The tony rebel song is in my head right now too.

    So all around, thanks!
    Great blog. Believe it or not, despite the fact that we electronically know each other, I stumbled across afrobella today as I was on Vibe’s blog.
    So keep up the good work.
    Oh, and apparently you’re approved for Langerado. You photographer you: )

  11. LB (Miss Lisa) says:

    Thanks for showcasing vegetables. I’ve been a vegetarian for a while, but I do incorporate dairy and eggs into my diet. My family always had a vegetable garden when I was a child, but now I just resort to the local farmer’s market and Whole Foods Market. I encourage all of you to reduce your consumption of meat, especially red meat because I know giving up meat completely isn’t for every person. There are many vegetables out there to enjoy besides the traditional corn, green beans, peas and carrots. The next time you’re out shopping throw a vegetable or fruit into your cart that you’ve never tried before. A lot of people working in produce normally let you sample items too. I think you and your palate will be pleasantly surprised by adding new fruits and vegetables into your diet. I think my best advice would be is to eat a rainbow of color (fruits and veggies), reduce or eliminate your intake of meat, add more grains, beans and nuts into your diet. There’s a lot of great cook books and wesites out there to help you if you have any questions on food preparation. Okay, now I’m going to find some veggies to enjoy because you made my hungry with that picture Bella. :-)

  12. Hello all, this is my first time leaving a comment but I felt the urge on this topic. I’m a single girl whom is a carnivore and lives with a vegetarian. She doesn’t mind that I cook meat, which usually isn’t a lot, I eat more fish than anything else, but I honestly live by the Birds Eye Steamfresh vegetables… http://www.birdseyefoods.com/corp/ourBrands/birdseyeSteamfresh.asp, they are so easy to make. It takes 5 minutes and you don’t even have to puncture the bag, just pop it in the microwave – they are a little pricey, but they are also always on sale. Veggies are delightful and so are fruits. Enjoy!

  13. Oh man I LOVE vegetables and whole grains! One of my favorite things to eat right now is wild brown rice with furikake (japanese rice seasoning in a variety of flavors), shredded low fat string cheese, topped with a wild salmon patty chopped in bite sized pieces. 1c of rice, 1 string cheese, and the salmon is filling, healthy, and tasty! Of course I tend to mix it up by adding sauteed veggies, mushrooms, adding curry powder to the cheese, or using chicken.

    One of my tried and true healthy eating tips is NOT to skip breakfast! It sets your metabolism for the entire day, meaning if you skip breakfast you end up bingeing later while eating it keeps your energy levels up and helps your body burn fat more efficiently throughout the day. My second favorite healthy eating tip is staying hydrated and drinking enough water. And my 3rd favorite is having a glass of red wine 2-3x per week. =P

    I prefer to steam veggies the old fashioned way in a pan and metal steamer. I’m afraid of the chemicals that come from plastic when it’s heated and their ability to be transferred into the food, so I also try to use glass or food-safe pottery when microwaving.

  14. im so mad you remember that song!!!!

  15. ladybugfromthechi says:

    Bella, I have been noticing how great you look from the pics of you that I have been seeing. Keep up the good work. The pizza looks delicious! I am hungry right now! Thank you for encouraging us bella’s to be healthy and heart smart! I love veggies as well! Have a great weekend!

  16. I am all about vegetarian and vegan cooking these days. It’s really challenged me and helped me to find healthier ways of cooking some of my favorite dishes.

  17. It’s not that I want to replicate your web page, but I really like the layout. Could you let me know which theme are you using? Or was it <a href="http://www.timberlandonlineshop.com/"Timberland Boot
    custom made?

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