Top 7 Tips to Make Eating More Green Veggies Easy

CARRIE: Hello, everyone. This is Carrie Brown and Jonathan Bailor, and this is the SANE show.

JONATHAN: The SANE show, and today, Carrie, we are going to talk about something that is literally the most important component, when we talk about SANE in the most literal sense, satiety, [?? 00:56] nutrition and efficiency, the single most important component of going SANE, so that makes me excited.

CARRIE: Me, me me! I know the answer!

JONATHAN: What is it, Carrie?

CARRIE: Vegetables.

JONATHAN: Yes, and specifically, green vegetables. Green vegetables!

CARRIE: Yum…. Yum.

JONATHAN: But, the inspiration for today’s show is one of everyone’s favorite Muppet, our dear Kermit the frog.

CARRIE: You lost me now. Okay, I kind of get the green connection, but…

JONATHAN: Well, it is because Kermit is green, because we all remember Kermit’s words of wisdom which apply, which are, “It’s not easy being green.” Kermit has told us for decades that it’s not easy being green, and what I want to do in today’s show is help people make it easier to be green, specifically, easier to consume more green non-starchy vegetables. Kapow!

CARRIE: That was a brilliant segue.

JONATHAN: Was it? Thank you.

CARRIE: Congratulations, Mr. Bailor.

JONATHAN: I feel like, from a segue perspective, that was a pretty good one. I’m going to be honest. I try to be a little bit humble on these shows, but I feel like that was a pretty good segue.

CARRIE: It is so hot in the studio, I’m surprised that your brain hasn’t melted, and that you can still do this.

JONATHAN: Yes, so please forgive if we are a little bit slap-happy in this episode, folks.

CARRIE: We’re delirious!

JONATHAN: We are, we are batch-recording a few episodes. This is the last one we will be recording in our studio time for today, and it is getting progressively hotter, so we will see how it goes, but part of driving up the hotness in your life is eating a lot of SANE, non-starchy vegetables. Carrie, I know we have had a bunch of shows where we have talked about your wonderfully documented tips around soups and smoothies, so I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time on those tips because folks, if you haven’t heard already, Carrie has written entire books on how using soups and smoothies you can literally just take care of your 10+ servings of non-starchy vegetables, especially the green ones, quickly, easily and deliciously. So, let’s maybe summarize soups and smoothies and let’s talk about some other tips, how about that?

CARRIE: Hey, you’re the boss.

JONATHAN: Alright, so, let’s summarize soups and smoothies, and this is going to break your heart, Carrie, because I know you don’t like to do anything that is too formulaic, but if you had to give general guidance around creating soups using vegetables, is there any kind of assembler-related guidance you could give us to inspire us to experiment with creating delicious vegetable-heavy soups, in addition to buying your book? I don’t remember the title. Sorry. Tell me what the title is.

CARRIE: Eat Smarter! Soups.

JONATHAN: Alright, give us kind of a summary tip.

CARRIE: Good stock, vegetables, and a Vitamix.

JONATHAN: Beautiful. I love that. And I will give one tip in addition to that. When you say good, this is implied in good stock, but if you are going to buy your stock from the store, no MSG. And be very careful, and Costco I apologize, I’m going to throw you under the bus here a little bit, but you know I have Costco love, so I’ve just got to tell it like it is. Costco sells a stock, and in that stock it says, no MSG added. So Mr. SANE here, says, “Oh great, I’m going to buy that, no MSG added.” No MSG added is not the same as no MSG. I looked carefully at the label, and it has MSG in it, but there is no MSG added. So I took the stuff back to Costco, and they gave me my money back. Yay. But anyway, be very careful. Good stock. What were the other things?

CARRIE: Vegetables.

JONATHAN: Vegetables. Details. And then what was the last one?

CARRIE: A Vitamix, or a high-powered blender. A Vitamix is what Jonathan and I use just because we love it, but a high-powered blender, because that will transform the texture, and a lot of people have texture issues with vegetables. A high-powered blender will make the soup silky-smooth, and if you use the right vegetables, and I don’t want to say starchy, but the starchier, your carrots or your cauliflowers, if you blend them in a high-powered blender long enough you get a creamy base, like a cream. That’s the texture you can get, which makes pretty much anything edible in my mind.

JONATHAN: It absolutely does, and one tip I’ve noticed is that in terms of getting SANE sources of creamy goodness, is using coconut in the concoction, as well. It gives you a wonderful creaminess. The reason MSG is so palatable, though it is horrible for you, by the way, is that MSG is like the umame flavor type. There are different flavors, right? Umame is meaty, or savory. MSG is to the savory flavor as sugar is to the sweet flavor, so it super-stimulates your brain. But there are natural sources of the chemical components which are artificially replicated in MSG that give you this umame, savory flavor. Coconut is one of the highest concentrated sources. This is why, for example, when you have a curry sauce, or any sauce that is coconut-based, you will notice it is incredibly rich and decadent. That is because it is having some of those same effects on your brain, except without all the negative consequences, as MSG would. Soup smoothies are soup’s friendly cousin, because in some ways, they are just…

CARRIE: Cold soups.

JONATHAN: Cold soups, or sweeter soups, right? I know I’ve given my formula that I use for smoothies sometimes, but do you have anything that is a little bit more formulaic?

CARRIE: Vitamix.

JONATHAN: Vitamix is the common denominator.

CARRIE: And a liquid, so that would be, instead of stock, either water or coconut milk, or almond milk.

JONATHAN: And for me, I try to give folks as many options as possible, but I’ve tried three very expensive blenders in my life. I’ve tried a Breville, I’ve a Blendtec, and I‘ve tried a Vitamix. I’m not paid by Vitamix, nothing like that. There is no comparison. The Blendtec, I broke the first day. I make meatloaf, and I literally blend liver. Liver to me is foul, because I don’t know how to prepare it properly. However, when I blend it with grass-fed beef and make a meatloaf of sorts, it is quite delicious. I put in seasonings, and garlic and onions, and it is fabulous. And then I put pasta sauce, all natural marinade – I digress.

The point is, I tried to do that with Blendtec, and that was the end, but Vitamix crushed it. I think a Vitamix is required for proper smoothie consumption. It’s not cheap, but it’s the difference between trying to travel across the country in a car or in an airplane. They are both modes of transportation, but they are really not comparable. So, before you say, “Ew, smoothies, soups…” No, you haven’t tried doing it in a Vitamix. Again, neither Carrie nor I are on their payroll. Try it, it is worth it, and it will transform your consumption of vegetables. So, my formula includes Vitamix, as well.

What I would say is, pick a green leafy vegetable, such as spinach, or romaine lettuce, or kale. If you are just getting started, stick with spinach and romaine, because kale is going to be uniquely bitter. Use as much of that as possible. Then either strawberries or oranges, citrus or a low-sugar berry, only as much as you need, generally not both, one or the other. Definitely not apples, bananas or grapes. The citrus or the berries is going to cut the bitterness of the vegetables. And then if you’d like, throw in some vanilla flavored protein powder and cinnamon.

CARRIE: And, if you want a super fantastic milkshake, smooth, creamy texture, half an avocado.

JONATHAN: Yes! I didn’t believe that, or understand that, until I actually did it, and you will be shocked at what an avocado does. I would think of smoothies almost in two ways. I would think of one smoothie as how you get your vegetables. Say you just want to have some eggs for breakfast, and you think that is not a SANE meal because there are no nonstarchy vegetables. In that case, you’ve already got your fat, and you’ve got your protein, because you ate a bunch of eggs, maybe you just have a spinach, strawberry and cinnamon shake because you just want to get three servings of vegetables in a glass done. Check. Alternatively, you could use a smoothie as your entire breakfast. But, if you are going to use a smoothie as your entire breakfast, you want to make sure it a complete SANE meal. So, just eating spinach for breakfast, not a complete SANE meal. Just eating an avocado for breakfast, not a complete SANE meal. Just eating protein powder for breakfast, definitely not a SANE meal. However…

CARRIE: Put it all together!

JONATHAN: Put it all together! And you’ve got a complete SANE meal. And you will notice it is exceptionally filling, because if you are using a coconut milk, or if you are using an avocado, that is going to greatly increase the amount of calories, which is okay, of course, because it’s just going to fill you up more. But then you are looking at this smoothie as a meal versus this smoothie as your source of vegetables in addition to something else.

CARRIE: And if you need more guidance, or you want a starting point in terms of quantities of this and that, I wrote a book on that, as well.

JONATHAN: Boom! There’s a book for that.

CARRIE: Eat Smarter! Smoothies and Sides has a whole bunch of smoothie recipes to help get started.

JONATHAN: Absolutely. Highly recommended. In fact, my favorite part of that book is, without question, the first couple of pages, because I wrote the forward for the book. It’s hot in the room; we’re getting a little delusional. Alright, other things that we have not mentioned previously, Carrie, one thing I’ve been doing recently that I have very much enjoyed, very much enjoyed, is as follows. Alright, are you ready?

CARRIE: I’m not sure.

JONATHAN: Brussels sprouts, the much maligned vegetable. They are almost like lima beans.

CARRIE: I – love – Brussels sprouts. I think Brussels sprouts are awesome.

JONATHAN: I actually think we should always record in this heat, because I just used the word maligned, I think correctly, in a sentence.

CARRIE: Yes, exactly. Good job.

JONATHAN: A much maligned vegetable, Brussels sprouts, but fabulously good for you. It is a green leafy vegetable.

CARRIE: They are mini cabbages.

JONATHAN: Mini cabbages, my favorite form of cabbage. So, this is what I have done. You take Brussels sprouts, you boil them, not to the point of mush, but even earlier than that. Say you were to just boil Brussels sprouts and eat them, two minutes less than that. So, you cook them until they are not quite ready. Then you take them and put them in a food processor, not a Vitamix. If you put them in a Vitamix, you get Brussels sprouts mush.

CARRIE: You get pureed Brussels sprouts.

JONATHAN: Yes. You put them in a food processor and you turn them into much more of a rice-like consistency. Then you put them in a pan when you are getting ready to eat, put a little bit of coconut oil on the pan, a little bit of bacon grease, a little bit of a healthy, saturated cooking fat, a little bit of some salt, some seasoning. Holy moly! Then you cook them just until they are warm. Oh! It’s like hash browns. I’ve eaten them with eggs, I’ve eaten them with salmon, I’ve eaten them with beef, and I put it on the fork along with the protein and it just complements it. Umm, so good.

CARRIE: I love how excited you get about Brussels sprouts. The world needs to get excited about Brussels sprouts, because Brussels sprouts are fantastic!

JONATHAN: And they should no longer be maligned.

CARRIE: Exactly.

JONATHAN: So, I’ve shared a tip that I used to make it easier to be green. Are there some tips that you could share, Carrie, besides soups and smoothies?

CARRIE: I think a couple of things. If you’ve looked at any of the Paleo sites and the clean-eating sites, two of the things that people miss most, apart from potatoes, is rice and spaghetti, or pasta. So, you can use cauliflower to make a rice substitute. And actually, when you have riced cauliflower and sautéed it for a few minutes, you would be hard-pressed to tell it from rice. It looks the same, and when you pour your meat sauce or whatever over the top of it you can’t tell the difference. Also, it can make a great risotto. The other thing is spiralizing or julienned zucchinis to make what looks like noodles.

JONATHAN: I love that. Noodles – Zoodles. Yes, I love Zoodles.

CARRIE: Those are two ways, as well as getting a lot of vegetables inside you, it is replacing that mental craving for starches in a way that doesn’t do you the harm that eating starch would.

JONATHAN: Yes. And when you talked about mashed or riced cauliflower, it reminded me of a tip you provided in an earlier show, Carrie, which is, I’ve gotten some flack for my stance on oil and butter, because some people think I am opposed to it. I am not. I believe it should be used in the right context, though. And I think the perfect, perfect – I’m going to blow the microphone out with my P’s – perfect context for using butter, is with one of Carrie’s compound butter recipes, so you get your butter, you get your garlic, for example, or you get some dill, or you get something else, and you put that in your mashed cauliflower, you put that with really, anything.

This is, personally, why I’m not going to put a huge amount of added fats on my food. I would never put butter on top of a steak, for me, because the steak is sufficiently rich for me. Would I like to put some compound butter on top of some broccoli? Absolutely. Would your kids eat broccoli if you put some compound butter on it? More than likely, yes. Would they eat kale if you sautéed it in bacon fat? More than likely, yes. So, I think using these what would be traditionally thought of as less SANE fats, in conjunction with the SANEst substance in the world, nonstarchy vegetables, can make a super SANE substance really palatable and delicious.

CARRIE: Right. You can get a ton of vegetables in you that would have been unpalatable without it so.

JONATHAN: Exactly.

CARRIE: By a compound, we mean something that is flavored, essentially. By using a compound butter, or by using some coconut oil or another fat like that, or bacon grease, you can get vegetables inside of you that wouldn’t have gotten there any other way. So, they are a great vegetable vehicle.

JONATHAN: It’s a vegetable delivery mechanism.

CARRIE: Yes, there we go.

JONATHAN: Another tip, Carrie, something that I’ve been experiencing. I don’t know when this show will air, but Dr. Oz has certainly been in the news a lot recently, and a couple of years back he wrote an article for, I think, Time Magazine, which I actually found to be delightful. It was an article about how nutritious eating is not just for the 1%. Sometimes it is presented like you have to shop at Whole Foods and that is nonsense. You can get canned options which are great. Is it as good to get powdered eggs as it is to go out to your roost in your back yard and get them yourself? No, of course it’s not. But you know what? Progress versus perfection. Anyway, one of the things Dr. Oz talked about in the article was canned vegetables. Recently, my local Costco has started to carry organic canned sliced mushrooms.

CARRIE: Mmm, mushrooms.

JONATHAN: I love mushrooms.

CARRIE: Me, too.

JONATHAN: But the challenge I face with mushrooms, personally, is when I buy fresh mushrooms and I cut them up and cook them, they shrink dramatically, and I have been known to buy one of the big things of fresh mushrooms at Costco and eat it in one sitting, after cooking it. But if you get the canned mushrooms they are already shrunk down a little bit. I take the canned mushrooms, you don’t even need to use a can opener, you just pop the top, they’re organic, and you dump then in a colander. I rinse them with water to try to get any of the not so good stuff that may have come off the can on them. And then I use them like you would conventionally use noodles, for example. I make ground beef with some other organ meats because I’m trying to be super SANE, but you could just use a grass-fed ground meat. Instead of putting that over the top of noodles, I would just mix it with these mushrooms, because they just add substance, and they take on the flavor of whatever you put them in.

So, another way to use vegetables that most people don’t automatically think about is, for example, when you would traditionally use starch just as a filler and a way to get more sauce in your body, you could use mushrooms, you could use spaghetti squash, you could use Zoodles in Italian dishes. If you were to go to a Thai restaurant, instead of getting your curry over the top of rice, you could get it over the top of mixed vegetables. This is why I am so anti-starch, because eating is a zero sum game, and if you are eating a bunch of mashed potatoes, you are, by definition, not eating something else, and that something else is almost always vegetables. So, why not just load up on the vegetables? And an easy way to do that is to use it in place of these starches. For example, canned mushrooms, for me, in conjunction with an Italian-based meat dish – very delicious. What do you think about that, Carrie?

CARRIE: I’m just stunned that you’re coming up with all these ideas.

JONATHAN: I’ve been experimenting. My in-laws came into town recently and I did all of the cooking. They were pleased – pretty impressed, if I do say so myself, Carrie. I was upping my game a little bit.

CARRIE: I’ll have to ask Angela what she thought.

JONATHAN: Alright, Carrie, I want to give you the opportunity, you are the chef, you are the SANE chef expert, so if you had to pass on one word of wisdom regarding making it easier to be green to our listeners, to help them with their SANEity, what would that word of wisdom be? No pressure.

CARRIE: I am just going to reiterate that soups and smoothies are the easiest way to get the maximum vegetables inside you, deliciously, they just are, because once a vegetable is liquidized, you can eat far more of it than when it is whole. So, while the Zoodles and all the other things that we talked about are fantastic, for maximum consumption, anything that liquidizes them is going to be the best way.

JONATHAN: And I will +1 that. Absolutely, I get, dare I say, 80% of the vegetables I consume in smoothie form. And I will leave you dear listeners with one tip that I have found recently, and this is a little bit more advanced, but it has been very helpful for me. The only challenge some people face with smoothies is that because you are taking in so many vegetables, and because you can do it so quickly, if you are not careful it could sometimes cause a little bit of a digestive issue, because you can consume, potentially, more fiber than you have ever consumed in a week, in 30 seconds, if you just pound a smoothie. So, two tips: One is, don’t pound, don’t just glug, your green smoothie. Drink it more slowly. And if you still experience any sort of flatulence or digestive distress, buy some undistilled apple cider vinegar. You can buy it online in bulk, or you can buy it at your local grocery store. Bragg’s is a very common brand. You’ll know it is the right kind because it has what is called “the mother” at the bottom of the jar. It will look like apple cider, and it will have a brown gunk at the bottom. Put some of that in the smoothie, as well. I personally think it enhances the taste, and it will actually aid with digestion, which is useful.

CARRIE: Not to be too graphic, but apple cider vinegar is a great way to stop diarrhea in its tracks.

JONATHAN: Yes. So, literally, for what it’s worth, I buy gallon jugs of apple cider vinegar off of Amazon, and every time I drink a green smoothie I put a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in it, and it has transformed my life.

CARRIE: However, be aware that when you first start eating vegetables, you are probably going to have a reaction. That will improve dramatically over time. When your gut becomes used to that, it will go away. So just hang in there, and hang on until your body has time to acclimate to the new form of food that is coming through you. Don’t give up immediately, give it some time. It might be a bit unpleasant to start with, but you will get over that. And then you will no longer have to sleep on the couch.

JONATHAN: And then you will prove Kermit wrong. And you will, with the tips that we have outlined today, show that it can be…

CARRIE: Good to be green.

JONATHAN: It can be easy to be green. I love it, Carrie. Well, listeners, this week, and every week after, remember: Eat smarter, exercise smarter, and live better. We will chat with you soon.

CARRIE: See ya.