Meet our new bunny friend, Rey (my son named her after the main character of the latest Star Wars movie, of course). She is a sweetheart, likes to climb in our laps and be held close, and loves to run, jump up and kick in the air. We love her dearly. She's here to help me wish you a hoppy - I mean happy Spring and happy Easter!
Rey's also here to help discuss her favorite topic: rabbit food. When people start eating vegan, sometimes their community can have a lot of concerns that vegan = rabbit food - like carrots and celery and not much else - and how can humans survive on rabbit food? I know, because it was my concern before venturing into vegan territory. In fact, my experience with vegetables had been so negative that eating like a rabbit sounded like torture and made me cringe. The reality is though, eating vegan is so much more than carrots and celery. Whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, starchy potatoes and corn, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables - there's plenty for vegans to eat. There's also plenty of vegan processed junk food available, which admittedly is where I started when dabbling with vegan. Not stuff I would want to feed Rey.
What do rabbits really eat? Mostly hay actually, and they supplement with raw veggies. Rabbits are onto something there. Raw veggies are packed with micronutrients. According to the people over at Forks Over Knives, who have led the charge on eating plants exclusively, "whole, plant-based foods contain all the essential nutrients (with the exception of vitamin B12), and in proportions that are more consistent with human needs than animal-based or processed foods." Ok, that sounds like what I want then. And I know I feel my body coming alive when I eat that way. That's not to say that I never eat processed foods. I just try to keep them to a minimum. While I don't strictly follow one source for my eating choices, Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritarian Food Plate is pretty close to how I choose to eat now, though I don't avoid sweets - I don't think I could. Instead, I try to create sweets that are plant and whole foods-based.
Finding Veggie Love
So how do we go from detesting vegetables and the thought of "rabbit food" to embracing them? Well, it isn't always easy, and we make our own choices. I can tell you how it changed for me:
1. I hit rock bottom. As you may have read on the Philosophy page, I was a junk food junkie, and it started taking a toll on me physically, which motivated me to begin looking for real ways to make a change.
2. I discovered new delicious ways to eat vegetables. Once I really started digging, I found there were ways of eating veggies that I'd never tried before, and they were actually delicious!
3. I let go of diets and started focussing on nutrient-dense foods. I had tried so many diets in my lifetime and was not wanting to start another one. I was looking for a realistic lifestyle. As I watched documentaries and read books and articles related to eating vegetables, I started understanding why veggies are the only things the experts seem to agree we should eat more of: they are packed with nutrients like nothing else and have a unique positive influence on our health. This motivated me to look for ways to eat more veggies.
Easy Ways to Eat a Large Quantity of Veggies
While I now look at eating as an opportunity to invest in my health, I want this way of life to actually be doable. I need a solution for those times when I'm out of time. So I strive to create quick, easy, and inexpensive options for eating high volumes of vegetables in a delicious way.
Two Quick Salads
Three Ingredient Salad (plus sriracha)
One way is a super easy Three Ingredient Salad. The key is to have the following ready to go in my fridge at all times:
quinoa or another whole grain
hummus or beans
When I am limited on time, I make the salad below. It is simply:
about half a container of pre-washed romaine lettuce
some quinoa (a little or a lot, depending on how hungry I am)
hummus of the week (store bought or homemade)
I usually top it (and most things) with sriracha.
That's right, no dressing necessary. The hummus is enough. If I'm heading out the door, this can be tossed in a mason jar and I'm ready to roll.
Clean Out the Fridge! Shredded Vegetable Salad
For a long time, I forgot about the shredder attachment on my food processor. Now, I use it all the time. I take whichever veggies are available, often those that are threatening to turn soon, and toss them in the food processor to shred. This requires minimal chopping, since big chunks can be placed in the processor feed tube. I then often add a chopped herb like cilantro or parsley and toss it all with a dressing and/or hummus.
Yes, this salad is really truly rabbit food. The scraps that don't get fed into the food processor go in the fridge to later be fed to Rey. A win win! Before Rey, they went into our compost bin.
Shredded salad is fast to make and easy to eat. It's a very doable way to get lots of veggies into one meal. According to the new governmental guidelines, men should generally have 3 cups and women 2 1/2 cups of veggies each day. http://www.choosemyplate.gov/vegetables
Therefore, if the salad made here were split between two people for a big lunch, they each would be eating their daily required amount in one sitting. (Personally, I think the Choose My Plate concept is a good starting place, and prefer Dr. Fuhrman's Nutritarian Food Plate.)
QUICK SHREDDED SALAD RECIPE
Makes 2 large or 4 small salads.
Prep time: 5-10 minutes + dressing time, depending on which you choose
1/2 small cabbage
1/2 small cauliflower
2 large carrots
1/2 bunch of cilantro
Dr. Fuhrman's Russian Fig Dressing or dressing of your choice
Optional garnishes: a dollop of hummus, a squeeze of lime, and a few shakes of sriracha.
1. Roughly chop the cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and radishes.
2. Install the shredding attachment into your food processor, fill the feed tube with chopped vegetables, turn the machine on and zoom! The veggies are shredded. Continue until they have all been shred. You should have about 5 cups of shredded vegetables.
3. Place the shredded vegetables into a large bowl.
4. Chop the cilantro. Stir it into the bowl of veggies.
5. Add the dressing. Stir until well combined.
6. Divide the mixture into bowls. Add condiments as desired.
7. Savor the flavor.