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Eating vegetables is a missed steak

By Shane Starr
LaGrange resident

have a sort of love/hate relationship with vegetables, only without any of the love part. That’s predictable, since the only thing all dieticians and doctors seem to agree on is that making healthy vegetables a larger portion of our food intake is the choice most likely to result in weight loss, better metabolism, and improved overall well-being.

Part of my frustration with vegetables results from the conventional wisdom related to preparation. Marinara sauce is made from tomatoes, but is not considered a vegetable. How can that be? Cole slaw is made from cabbage, but its not a vegetable. Neither are candied yams. And vegetable soup – well, let’s not even go there. Supposedly, coating vegetables lightly with flour and then frying them negates the health benefits of the vegetable, so onion rings aren’t vegetables. Similar conclusions accompany the cheese sauce I enjoy with broccoli. Dairy is good. Vegetables are good. How can dairy and vegetables together somehow be bad? And don’t even think about attaching the word “casserole” to your vegetables. Does “casserole” mean “toxic” in Latin?

It also feels unfair that the relatively few vegetables that I can actually enjoy eating plain always seem to have an asterisk beside them, indicating they are of poor moral character. Potatoes? Too starchy and too many carbs. Beans? Oh those are really legumes, and you need to limit your intake of those. Corn? Too much sugar and too many genetic modifications. As near as I can tell, the only certain route to identifying healthy vegetables is the following three-step decision tree, with all three steps requiring a “yes” answer: “(1) Is this vegetable green? (2) Is this vegetable raw? and (3) Does this vegetable taste like a crisper version of cardboard?” If all three answers are “yes”, load up your plate and chow down. If any are “no”, well, maybe you should consider just skipping eating altogether.

On the positive side, I have found that the spatial placement of vegetables relative to other foods can improve their taste. For instance, green pepper, onions and tomatoes taste great when presented directly above a pizza crust. Asparagus, on the other hand, tastes best when placed directly under a generous helping of Hollandaise sauce. Lettuce does better when it can be located within several tablespoons of ranch dressing. Where vegetables need to be placed for optimal flavor is very plant-specific.

It just seems like, in a fair universe, eating copious amounts of healthy vegetables should be easy. Why does cauliflower have to smell like cauliflower instead of say, roast turkey on Thanksgiving morning? Why can’t I have a Popeye gene that makes me crave and respond to raw spinach? Why is the television advertisement at 9 p.m. at night the picture of a dripping double cheeseburger, and not a bowl of freshly picked kale? I need to unwind some of these thorny questions. I really think I could be a vegetarian, if I could just get around the “vegetables” part of it…