Ready or Not #110: Fresh Veggies

After I wrote my article about cheese, I was talking to one my co-workers and he was telling me how much he liked to snack on cheese and apples.  I asked him if he knew why it was a good idea to eat those two items together.  He didn’t have a clue.

When you eat cheese, it can bind you up (as in making your constipated). But if you eat the apple at the same time, you will have enough fiber to keep things running smoothly.  That conversation however did remind me of how much I enjoyed cheese and jam – an enhanced form of fruit.  When I was a kid my dad would slice a piece of cheese and slather it with jam and eat it.  I loved it.  I hope that you aren’t thinking “yuck” because it is really good – just try it.  The strawberry or apricot jams are my favorite when smeared on mild cheddar or mozzarella.

Now for the fresh vegetables.  I like to eat a lot of fresh vegetables, but I don’t want to go shopping every other day.  At first, I found that when I bought lots of fresh vegetables that there was a lot of waste and rotten food in my fridge.  Tired of the waste, I decided to analyze what I was doing wrong.  I was pretty confident that I wasn’t over buying and that as a family we should be able to eat what I was bringing home – before it went bad.

After really looking at our eating habits and how I was preparing our meals – I found that I was the culprit.  I was going for easy (canned and frozen) veggies and I would bypass using, or cooking, the already cleaned and cut up vegetables.  How pathetically lazy.  I knew I wasn’t going to change my ways because I just have so little time to retrain myself.  That is when I decided to start preparing my vegetable to be ready-to-go after I brought them home from the store.

I started taking my large bags of mixed vegetables and dividing them into zip-lock bags for individual servings.  I found that the sandwich size bags were the perfect size.  Since I started doing that, the vegetables disappeared a lot faster and I haven’t had any go bad.  I also found it to be a good gauge for the amount of veggies I needed to steam for my family.  For each person eating I would grab one bag, and again, it was the perfect amount.  Suddenly fresh vegetables became the perfect on-the-run-snack and easier to use for a sit down meal – with no waste.

Then, I started to be even more adventuresome.  I love sweet bell peppers and fortunately I am still able to eat them without stomach distress.  I buy the yellow, red and orange peppers for myself to just snack on.  The way that I prepare them is to julienne them and then mix the colors together and put what I think is a good serving into a sandwich bag and throw them in the fridge to grab for my lunch or snack the next day.  This is also a good way to give kids a snack; they can haul around a clean little bag while snacking on veggies instead of candy (and they aren’t sticky when they get done,)

If I find that I am not eating the peppers fast enough and I am afraid they might go bad, I take them out and dice them up, seal them back up in the bag and throw them in the freezer for a later time.  I love to take a frozen bag of peppers out and throw them in the frying pan and cook them a bit before I scramble some eggs with them. Yum.

That brings me to mushrooms.  When you buy mushrooms, take them out of the plastic wrap and container and put them into a small brown paper bag with the top folded over.  If you do, they will last longer.

I love to buy the cherry or grape tomatoes.  They always have so much flavor and they never taste green like some of the bigger sized tomatoes.  That and they are so much fun to grab a handful to just eat.  Don’t put them in the fridge.  Always leave your tomatoes, big or small, out on the counter.  Once they enter the fridge the tomatoes stop developing their flavor.

Another way that I store my fresh vegetables is by storing them on the counter.  I have a large decorative bowl that I leave on my counter filled with fruits and vegetables.  The vegetable that you will find in the bowl most often is the avocado because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated – and I like how they look.

It is a good idea to keep a bowl of fruit and vegetables sitting on the counter because it helps to encourage healthy snacking – hence, less fresh food waste.  I think I’ll go chew on a baby carrot.

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