A while ago, a friend on Instagram commented on a photo I posted of brussels sprouts asking, “Have you always looooved veggies?” My answer: No! Trust me folks, I did not pop out of the womb begging my mother for a carrot. (But a cupcake? Now that’s likely).
I think when people see me getting so gosh! darn! excited! about kale salads, sweet potato fries and all-things green, they assume I’m one of those *unicorns* that just naturally loves vegetables. But know right now that almost every healthy habit I maintain (with the exception of regular exercise) has NOT come to me with ease. I have LEARNED to love vegetables because I had a burning desire to (truly) be healthy, conquer my destructive eating habits and yes, drop a few pounds.
Trust me, I know it can be annoying at times to see someone on Facebook wax poetic about kale and quinoa. That’s how I used to feel when I looked at other people’s healthy food photos: “Why are they so..so…happy?” But now I get it. I GET.IT. Do you even know how good that feels? Let me fill you in.
There are two truths here. Can you handle the truth? Listen up.
First off, you can like almost ANYTHING you want to. But you have to be positive and open-minded, and you have to be persistent in your efforts. If you tell yourself that brussels sprouts are disgusting (Eww the texture…eww eww eww…chewy…weird…ew..gross..ewww) as you pop one of those suckers into your mouth, then yep…you’re gonna think brussels sprouts are disgusting. (Been there). But when you are starting out, do what you need to do to make the vegetable more appealing or easier to “handle” – even if that means adding a little extra cheese, cutting it into small bites or grating it and adding it into a pasta dish. Baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
This raw brussels sprouts-kale salad is a perfect example. Look how small those leaves are. If you’re trying to “break into” these vegetables, I’d try it. Here’s how I made it:
I usually make the dressing first so the flavors can settle together for longer:
-1.5 tbsp. olive oil
-1 tsp. (or half a spoonful – I’m not exact) of spicy mustard
-half a lemon
-salt and pepper to taste
-two minced garlic cloves
Then shred five or six big brussels sprouts with a grater and put it into a bowl. Next, take seven or eight kale leaves and pull them off the stem – trying to keep them in decent-size pieces. Place one on top of the other in a pile (it doesn’t have to look neat and pretty), roll it up and kind of bunch it together with your fingers and cut slices. (Bunching it up in a thick wad is much easier than trying to cut the leaves individually with a knife.) From there, you can keep chop, chop, chopping with your knife to create smaller pieces. Add to bowl. Next, toast sliced almonds (or any nut you like) on the stovetop with a drizzle of olive oil until they are a little brown. Add to the bowl, then add the dressing and really mix it all up well. This dressing makes enough for my liking, but if your salad seems too dry or raw for you, then add some lemon and a touch more olive oil and mix well again. Lastly, add whatever shredded cheese you like – I usually go with fresh parmesan. Yum yum.
OK. Second truth: I used to get turned off by all the bright-eyed, shiny-haired health freaks who seemed so happy-go-lucky and carefree. But when you make consistently mindful, healthy choices you feel so good about yourself that you can’t help BUT to shout it to the world. Not only do you physically feel great, but you also feel proud. Like, Hey, I was exhausted when I got home from work today, but because I was prepared with healthy options in my kitchen, I was able to whip up a tasty, healthy meal. Who wouldn’t be proud of THAT? That feeling, my friends, never goes away. At least it hasn’t for me yet. Making the effort to be healthy and take care of yourself (especially when it doesn’t feel easy or convenient) ALWAYS pays off later. Remember that. The extra bit of effort is worth it. YOU are worth it.
And another thing I have learned throughout my healthy living journey is how to be a better cook. It is not something that comes naturally to me. I don’t have instincts that tell me what flavors go well together, and I certainly don’t have good knife skills. (Luke and I took a class though – I’m getting better!) I spent a lot of time telling myself I’m just not a good cook…I’m just not a good cook…I’m just not a good cook. And as you can imagine, that attitude didn’t help me to get better. “Energy flows where concentration goes” as a yoga teacher recently told me. Yep.
So I decided that I wanted to be a better cook. That I COULD be a better cook, and slowly but surely I got better. I rely on recipes from my favorite health blogs, Pinterest and Instagram because I’ve learned that (for now) I need that guidance. Recently I tried a sweet potato wedges recipe (above) from Tina at Carrots ‘n’ Cake, and oh-my-goodness, they were simply delicious. DE-licious. I couldn’t inhale them fast enough. You must try them!
So. Who is psyched to LEARN how to love vegetables? What changes will you make to reach your health and weight loss goals? You have the power, you have the control. It won’t always be easy, but it WILL be worth it. Keep trying, keep learning. You’ll get there.
*Need help with your health and lifestyle goals? Want to lose weight without obsessing about every bite you put into your mouth? I’m a Board Certified Health Coach + Emotional Eating Expert; contact me for a free consultation and let’s get started!