For most of my life, I ate a pretty healthy amount of vegetables. As a kid, my mom used to leave plates of raw veggies with dip for my sister and me to eat after school. We’d eat cucumbers and red peppers and carrots while watching TV.
When I went off to college, I would always hit up the salad bar to accompany my plain turkey sandwich, which I prepared myself at the deli meat bar and pretty much ate it every lunch and dinner for about four years. I was a lot less adventurous of an eater back then (which gives me hope for my own children.)
After college was over, I entered the dieting years. That lovely time in your life when you want to save all your calories for cocktails after work. I ate a TON of salad then.
I remember when the make-your-own-salad places started popping up in New York City. Having all the ingredients behind a counter was much more sanitary than keeping everything out where everybody could touch it. And you could see how fresh the ingredients were before you picked them. But the best part was being able to yell “STOP!!!” before the salad guy overdid it with the dressing. Make-your-own-salad bars were like a dieter’s dream come true.
Then I got married and had children.
I’m not sure why that relates to my vegetable intake but it does. Pregnant women need protein for the baby and carbs to stop the nausea and for me, salad just didn’t cut it.
When the kids were old enough to eat solids, I bought tons of vegetables to puree and didn’t think nearly as much about what I was feeding myself.
As my girls got older, I made sure they always had a healthy selection of vegetables with their meals. I still do. They love broccoli so it’s always stocked in our fridge waiting to be steamed or sauteed. But now I feel like eating a piece of broccoli is like taking it directly out my kids’ mouths. I feel the same about red peppers, cucumbers and bananas. Somewhere along the line, the fruits and vegetables in our fridge started to belong to the kids.
While I once enjoyed making a big salad to eat before dinner, now that seems like a luxury. The kids will eat cut veggies but won’t touch lettuce. And I don’t really have time to linger over a salad. Especially on nights where the kids eat first and we don’t get around to eating until after they go to bed. Then I’m too hungry and tired for a pre-dinner salad.
Lately, I’ve started to realize how bad my food habits have become. I’m one of those moms that eats my kids’ leftover chicken nuggets and pasta while standing over the garbage in the kitchen.
What happened to me???
I don’t think there is a way to change dinner at the moment, but I realized I can start focusing on a healthy lunch. My biggest problem is usually that I’m too busy to get lunch so I end up snacking on whatever is around the office. Chips, nuts and chocolate mainly. It’s a problem.
Since I don’t usually have time to go out for lunch, I decided to start bringing it mysefl. I don’t have time to pack my lunch in the morning so I decided to bring all the ingredients I need for a salad into the office. Utensils included. Then I can make myself a few days worth of salads and don’t have to worry about sharing my veggies with the kids.
For my first office salad, I used romaine lettuce, radish, red cabbage, avocado, corn, tomatoes, carrots and chick peas. The chick peas are from a can which make them super easy. The corn can be cut off the cob and eaten raw. Or you can put it in the microwave— just pull off the husk until you can almost see the corn and then microwave for three minutes. The corn silk should peel right off (but be careful because it is hot!)
Then I used Hidden Valley Ranch dressing to make the whole endeavor a little more exciting. A salad is nothing without dressing.
Let me just say that it felt so good to eat a huge bowl of salad again. Like I was actually doing something good for myself instead of just squashing my hunger.
For next week, I’m thinking about hitting the Union Square Farmer’s Market (it’s a few blocks from my office) and getting all my ingredients there.
I hope this is a routine that sticks. As I get older, I bet eating the right amount of vegetables ( and I believe raw vegetables have the most benefits) is just as important as it was when I was little.
This post was sponsored by Hidden Valley, but all thoughts and opinions are my own. You can find more Hidden Valley recipes here.