Meeting my 3-5 Challenge

One of my priorities is to stay healthy for as long as possible and help my husband do the same. Toward this end I’m working to develop the habit of eating 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, as recommended by nutrition experts. 

I must confess that, for too many years, our eating habits resembled those of a rebellious 10-year-old. (Vegetables are gross! Give me ice cream!)

Add to that, the challenge of finding veggies my husband and I can both stand. We each have veggies we like and veggies we loathe. Problem is, the ones I like are too often on his “loathe list” and vice versa.

Fortunately, I’ve discovered all kinds of relatively painless ways to sneak more fruits and vegetables past our lips:

  • Add a glass of juice or a small bowl of fresh fruit to our breakfast (one fruit serving).
  • Add a small salad to other meals (one or two veggie/fruit servings, depending on the salad ingredients).
  • Turn a ho-hum sandwich into a Dagwood by piling on shredded lettuce, tomato slices and thinly sliced purple onion (one veggie serving).
  • Cook up enough vegetables for each meal to ensure leftovers. This means I can create a veggie plate from time to time (several veggie servings in one sitting!).
  • Add vegetables like spinach, broccoli or mushrooms to pasta dishes such as lasagna or mac and cheese (one veggie serving).
  • Munch on raw vegetables rather than potato chips. Baby carrots and celery sticks dipped in hummus make a great snack when I have that irresistible urge to nibble, and I usually consume enough of them to equal at least one vegetable serving.
  • Add cut-up fresh fruit and a couple spoonfuls of granola to a bowl of fat-free plain yogurt for another healthy snack (one fruit serving).
  • Replace my afternoon soda with an 8-ounce glass of V-8 juice (two veggie servings!).
  • Throw chunks of frozen fruit and yogurt into a blender – adding some Splenda if necessary – for a dessert that looks and tastes like soft-serve ice cream (one fruit serving, plus a bit of protein).
  • Order a la carte at restaurants. Although restaurant meals tend to include only one vegetable, I can often order a second one on the side for a small “upcharge.” 
  • Ask for substitutions, if this is allowed. When I mention my dietary restrictions, I can usually persuade food servers to replace fries or chips with a serving of coleslaw, fresh fruit or no-sugar-added applesauce (one fruit or veggie serving). 
  • Bring healthy snacks to gatherings. I’ve found that bringing a bountiful veggie platter with dip gives me something to nibble on instead of the fat and sugar-laden hors d’oeuvres usually on offer. This helps me add an extra veggie serving to my daily quota as well.

For more ideas and recipes, see the new “Recipes” page I’ve created. Link HERE.

Irresistible veggie recipes wanted!

“Cardiac event” was most definitely not on my To-Do list.

Following an extended pull-my-hair-out busy patch that seems to happen for at least two weeks each month despite my retirement, I was looking forward to a short stretch of downtime. Instead, I began a beautiful October weekend with a ride in the back of an ambulance.

The good news: My radiating chest pain and rapid heart rate (200-plus beats per minute) turned out not to be a heart attack. The bad news: After an overnight stay in the hospital spent hooked up to a Holter monitor, I left with a diagnosis of A-fib and “diastolic dysfunction.”

The upshot: My eagerly-awaited downtime this past couple of weeks has been supplanted by a round of follow-up doctor visits. I’ll need to add three new heart medications to my ever-expanding drug salad, and a lot more salads to my increasingly restricted diet. And veggies.

Alas, since I prefer chocolate-covered peanut butter cookie bars to celery, it is even harder for me to adhere to a healthy eating plan than it was for me to quit smoking 15 years ago. Add to that, the challenge of finding recipes my husband and I can both stand. We each have veggies we like and veggies we loathe. Problem is, the ones I like are on his “loathe list” and vice versa.

But the cardiac event that hijacked my calendar has reminded me of my need to keep “self-care” on my list of priorities – after all, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s past time to stop taking my health for granted.

So I’d love to have readers of this blog share their irresistible veggie recipes. Or yummy salad recipes. “Quick and easy to prepare” is a plus.

Count on my husband to add a bit of levity to a tense situation. While waiting for me to be released from the hospital, he and I were discussing the health issues we’ve both been experiencing this past year.

I said, “At our age, we probably need to get used to this. It’s going to be the new normal.”

To which my sweetie pie replied, “You mean the new abnormal? We were NEVER normal, my dear!”