Veggies and vitamins

My diet. It sucks. It really does. It is one big mess of fast food, pizzas, and very, very little vegetables or fruit. Vegetables are the real problem, I just cant eat them, getting a gagging sensation just putting them near my mouth.

(Off topic, it is always fun backpacking. I meet lots of people complaining about how lethargic they are living on the road because of a diet of crappy food and beer. Heh, I live that all the time, I am used to it :D)

Anyway, I am tired of this unhealthy living. I am modern man, I should be eating green stuff and kicking ass. So I had a brainwave. Rather than eat vegetables, which I cant do (cant, wont, its the same thing in the end), I have decided, I will buy a blender.

Yes, a blender, and I will blend lots of green veggie things into pulp or a smoothie, or some way that I can force those precious vitamins down my throat. But first, some questions. And please bear in mind that my goal here is to increase my daily intake of healthy nutrients of vitamins.

-Are there any tangiable differences between fresh vegetables eaten as normal, and eaten as described (pulped into a drinkable form)?

-Again with the goal of maximising nutrient intake, which vegetables are most likely to provide me with the vitamins I require for daily living?

  • What if I just used fruit, and no vegetables? I can handle fruit, but will I still be missing out on necessary nutrients by not eating vegetables? Will fruit cover the quota so to speak?

  • Assuming vegetables are still potent in a smoothie form, any suggestions on how to mix them with something that would be palatable to me? If needs be I will just gulp down the nasty/good stuff as quick as possible, but it would be nice to have some way of disguising the taste.

Once again, the goal here is not to enjoy my meal, or to experiment with different foods. I require the good stuff veggies have, so what is the easiest, most pain free way to get them? I am hoping there is a factual answer as to which vegetable is “healthiest”, but suggestions or observances would also be appreciated.

Seemingly relevant recent thread.

In smoothie form (as opposed to juice) then yes, you are getting most of what’s good for you.

You can also buy concentrated veggies in powder or pill form.

I’d say broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, apples & blue or black berries.

If you mix those veggies together in a smoothie, then a shot of tabsaco and Worcheshire sauce will help. Along with a little salt (some few people need to carefully watch their sodium intake, you should ask your MD).

Fruit is pretty darn easy- mix with some of that Activa yogurt stuff, then you get your Probiotics also.

Added to either should be some fiber powder. If so, make sure you drink enough water, etc with it.

I am not a real doctor.

Veggies provide more than just vitamins and nutrients – if that’s all you lacked, you might as well just take a daily multivitamin and be done with it. They also give you, among other things, healthier fats (in the case of nuts and seeds), fiber, and a feeling off satiety (fullness). Don’t discount the latter because the more veggies you eat, the less room your stomach will have (in theory, at least) for more unhealthy foods.

There is no single ubervegetable that you can eat to the exclusion of all else; each contributes something different and it takes a good combination to give your body all that it needs.

If you can’t stand the taste of veggies as they are, I doubt you’d be able to stomach a multiveggie smoothie (ugh) unless you overload it with sugar, at which point it becomes an obesity/cavity/diabetes/god knows what risk as opposed to something good. This is essentially what Jamba Juice is – junk food disguised as health food for the ignorant yuppie audience.

It’s hard to imagine a completely generalized dislike of veggies simply because they come in so many forms: The tomato sauce on your pizza, the lettuce on your burger, mushrooms in your pasta, salads, mashed potatoes, etc. Do you hate all recognizable veggies? If so, have you tried different preparation methods? If not salads, maybe grilled? Steamed? Sandwiched? Mixed in with pasta or rice? Or can you stand soup? Vegetable soup? Minestrone? Chili with other things thrown in? Or ethnic cuisines? Veggie burritos? Curries? Stir-fry?

BTW, I’d highly recommend the books Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy and Becoming Vegetarian. They both contain loads of nutritional information, and the latter is useful even if you just want to know what veggies contribute to your health and don’t plan on stopping meat.

They should be just as good as any other raw veggies. Some veggies are more nutritious raw, and some are more nutritious cooked, but either way, veggies is better than no veggies.

Vegetables: Color-coded for your convenience. As a rule of thumb, vegetables which are more brightly or richly colored are better for you, and a good mix of colors will lead to a good mix of vitamins. For instance, reddish carrots will give you many of the same vitamins as reddish tomatoes, while dark green spinach will give you a different set of vitamins. Pale iceberg lettuce, however, will not give you much of anything. The exception to this is cabbage and cauliflower, both very nutritious despite their pale color.

Campbell’s make a product called V8 juice which is available here in Australia. I don’t know if it is available in Ireland. It comes in both a fruit and a vegetable format. I buy the vegetable product. On the label it lists tomatoes, carrots, celery, beetroot, parsley, lettuce, watercress and spinach. That’s a pretty good range of veggies and I believe it tastes excellent. I usually add a twist of lemon and a dash of tabasco just to make it more zesty. Have a look for it on your supermarket shelves. I have a glass with lunch daily.

A good multivitamin is a must, I think. I am not one of those who is into megadoses of vitamins, but I think if you get the generic version of One-A-Day you can’t go wrong. I got the generic version at Walgreens for $8.00 for 365 pills.

The real problems Americans (indeed most of the Western World) has is not vitamins but fiber. Few Americans get the recommended doses. THIS IS the real reason fruit and veggies are important.

Fruit is really sugar with some vitamins and fiber thrown it. But you need that fiber, especially Americans who don’t even get half their daily fiber intake.

So take your multivitamin and consentrate on getting lots of fiber into your diet.

I used to hate the very thought of eating carrots, but I find this recipe makes for a refeshing and healthy dessert salad:

Finely grate one carrot and one peeled apple into a bowl, add a dash of lemon juice and a few drops of Olive oil, stir vigourously and eat.

The carrot taste is nicely offset by the apple and lemon.

I am going to recommend that you buy FROZEN vegetables for your purpose. You will have much less waste than if you bought fresh vegetables that later rotted in the crisper drawer. Freezing preserves vitamins, so at many times of the year frozen vegetables actually have more vitamins than the “fresh” stuff that’s sitting in the produce aisle. Frozen vegees are also usually washed, chopped, etc. which increases their convenience. I’m assuming that, given your ambivalence towards vegees, that anything that makes them more convenient will also make them more likely to be eaten.

You can buy bags of mixed vegees - eating a variety of these things (and different varieties) will go a long way to accomplishing your goal without too much brainwork and effort on your part which, again, will make it more likely that you actually consume vegees.

First up, I would try and find some vegetables you do like. You say you “just can’t eat them”, but come on - there’s a whole world of veg out there, and I can’t believe you find them all disgusting.

Does your dislike of vegetables stem from childhood? If so, it’s a fair bet you were made to eat overcooked veg, which can indeed be horrible and gag-inducing. Try some different types of vegetables, either raw or very lightly steamed, so they retain a nice crisp crunch. Baby corn, lightly steamed, for instance, is deliciously sweet and crunchy. Same with beans and sugar snap peas (mangetout).

Interesting. I was always under the impression that multivitamins were just supplements, and so not really effective without being combined with proper vegetables. I guess I saw them as a catalyst, bringing the most out of a small amount of greens. Is it true that alone they can be quite sufficent in terms of providing what I need? Would I be just as covered by taking multivitamins combined with lots of fruit, or even something like Kellogs Bran flakes to provide fibre?

Thing is, I have NEVER in my life eaten vegetables to any great extent. Growing up I was very independant, and as the middle child in a large family I was able to slip under the radar quite a bit. From a very young age I ate to my own schedule, and this only became more pronounced the older I got, so, vegetables were rarely if ever on my menu. (anybody thinking this reflects poorly on my parents stop right there, you don’t know me). My attitude to food has always been perfunctary, I have to eat so I eat. Set meal times or even visits to restaurants just don’t work for me (Who wants to wait an hour for food that I wont enjoy anyway?)

So, vegetables. I am quite aware that my distaste for them is probably more mental than phyiscal. I can eat a pizza, with melted cheese and tomato sauce. But I would struggle to bite into a tomato, or eat any cold cheese. Maybe I could force it down, but I would definately feel a little sick, and it would certainly not be enjoyable for me.
The smell. The sensation as I bite down. Imagine eating a tortilla for example, and biting down on something, you dont know what. Your stomach clenches and you get an urge just to spit the whole mouthfull back on your plate. But people might see so you just try to swallow it without chewing and then put down your knife and fork because you wont go through that again.

A girl in Australia told me I just cant handle rich foods. She could be right, I am very plain in many ways. :wink:
So anyway, the question at hand. Say I need more than just a multivitamin, and decide to throw some tomatos, carrots, broccoli and stuff into a blender. How many glasses would I actually need daily? Would one average sized glassfull be enough?

Oh, and pro-biotics. I had never heard of them untill a year ago, do I need to stock up on them also, or have Activa just got a really good marketing department?

The thing with multivitamins is, there are some substances found mostly in vegetables that you absolutely need. Don’t get enough of them, and you’ll get very sick or die. We call those substances vitamins, and by now we’ve figured out what all of them are and can put them in a pill. But there’s also a wide variety of substances in veggies that, while not exactly essential, are still very good for you. We’ve managed to isolate some of them, but not all, and many we don’t know what they are. So you’ll get those things in actual veggies, but not in pills.

So you could survive on junk food and multivitamins, but you’ll probably be healthier getting your vitamins from vegetables.

I’m going to recommend Mark Bittman’s cookbook How to Cook Everything as a way to get a basic introduction to vegetables. It has lots of useful information on shopping for vegetables and cooking them, as well as recipes (some very basic, some fancier- you sound like you might like the basic ones).

Be aware that there are a lot of ways to prepare vegetables other than how your parents and grandparents did it, and you might like a vegetable you’ve never liked before if you try it prepared in a different way. Brussels sprouts are a good example. People used to overcook them, producing that awful sulfurous stench and taste and mushy texture. If you don’t overcook them, they don’t have that smell, taste, or texture, and can actually be good.

If you’re going to be going to a diet with much more fiber, make the transition slow and gradual. You can end up with intestinal discomfort if you don’t. It will go away as you get used to your new diet, but it’s no fun while it’s happening.

You don’t want to take a “no pain, no gain” approach to changing your diet. Food is supposed to taste good and at the very least not make you feel bad after eating it. Healthy food can taste good. If it doesn’t, it’s not very likely that you’ll stick with your new diet for very long.

You sound like you might be sensitive to food textures, like I am. How vegetables are cooked makes a world of difference in that case. Figure out which textures you can’t stand, and find ways to cook vegetables that don’t produce those textures. I don’t like the gooshy texture you get from biting into a raw tomato, so I eat my tomatoes cut up and possibly cooked in sauces or salsas instead. I don’t like the crunchy texture of whole raw carrots, so I eat my carrots shredded or roasted. There will be some vegetables that you may not end up eating (I haven’t heard of any way to make okra non-slimy other than deep-frying it, for example, and I won’t deep-fry at home for several reasons), but that’s not a big deal if you do eat other vegetables.

If you incorporate 5 half-cup servings of various colored vegetables into your smoothie, for 2.5 cups, that will make a substantial improvement in your diet. While a lot of people overachieve, there has been a big advertising campaign to get people to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

The main difference between fruits and vegetables is probably that fruits have more sugar. You don’t mention if weight is a problem for you. To the extent weight is a problem, focus more on veggies than on fruits.

I had a friend who drank a lot of veggie smoothies. I think parsley and/or cilantro were a big part of hers, to give it an herbal flavor. Some herbs, especially cilantro, are love/hate relationships, but you may want to give them a try. Basil could also be tasty.

You could try mixing in V8 and/or plain yogurt, to see if you thought that tasted better or worse.

If you aren’t eating 5 servings of fruits or vegees a day then a multivitamin is a good supplement. It’s not as good as eating real food, but better than nothing.

Don’t spend a gazillion dollars and swallow handfuls of pills - a house brand multivitmain is all you need.

No fiber. Also, multivitamins can prevent deficiency disease, but on their own will not provide optimum health.

Well, fruit + fiberous cereal is better than nothing, but try to get at least one or two servings of vegees a day in.

You know, eating a bowl of tomato soup instead of a raw, cold tomato is acceptable. If you like your food warm you can certainly heat up or cook any vegee you care to name. Vegees don’t have to be warm.

Given that I like vegetables I have a hard time imaging that level of revulsion, but I don’t doubt you feel it.

So - is it texture? Taste? Temperature? Color? What’s the problem?

A half cup of chopped vegees = 1 serving. Two servings in a blender, with some additional liquid, would be an 8 oz glass. Combine that with three servings of fruit (not juice but fruit) and additional fiber in your diet (breakfast cereals work fine) and you’ll have made a good improvement.

Very few people *need *pro-biotics. If you do need them you can get them in pill form. (I find yogurt so revolting I simply can’t eat it - probably somewhat how you feel about vegees - so when I was told to get some I opted for pills).

I’ll go against the multivitamin pill. Studies (which I can’t link to right now - I’m going to bed soon, but they were done by US researchers, too) show that with pills, it’s easy to overdose on some vitamins. For example, smokers who ate additional Vitamin C to prevent cancer from smoking had higher rates of cancer than smokers who didn’t!

A science reporter in the latest health show I watched said that an expert called vitamin pills “factory sweep ups” because the amount and type of vitamins in the pills isn’t related to any actual problems people have, but with what is easiest to manufacture.

Also, the absorption rate from chemically manufactured vitamins as in pills is often very bad, because all those secondary things that naturally occur in a veggie aren’t there to help the vitamin get processed (like combining iron with vitamin c: spinach with a shot of lemon juice).

Plus, besides vitamins and fibres, there’s minerals and rare elements in veggies.

I, too, dislike many veggies like broccoli and cauliflower and so on - ugghh! -, but I know that there are veggies I like: tomatoes, or bell peppers cut in stripes, eaten with dip or raw, cucumber salad with joghurt sauce, finely grated carrots with a good sauce etc.

So I echo the tips above to try different veggies and different methods of cooking. E.g. I don’t care much for cooked bell peppers, and I hate cooked cucumbers, and I don’t like zucchini at all (although they are related to cucumbers). Tastes are weird that way, but luckily, there’s dozens of veggies with dozen different methods. Spinach for example: blanched and overbaken with cheese tastes different. Or try organic produced that’s often a different taste than the sterile mass-produced pesticide and phosphate added stuff.

I also would advise against a veggie smoothie - the thought alone makes me shudder. I instead concentrate on more fruits instead. You should also try supplementing different seeds and nuts with them. Vegetarian cookbooks or societies have lists of which food supplies which vitamin /mineral/ rare element, so you can look up: I don’t like broccoli, so I’ll have to eat X (veggie) instead, if I don’t like X, also, then I have to eat more of Y and Z (fruits), and so on.

Yes, well, if you read the RDA’s and the label on a housebrand multivitamin you’d know that none of them are anywhere near excessive or extra amounts. If he’s not eating adequate fruits and vegetables then a basic multivitamin will help prevent deficiencies. No one is advocating megadoses here.

A “science reporter” is… what? A journalism student with a passing interest in something other than which Hollywood idiot is in rehab? Who was this “expert” and what was his/her credentials?

Multivitamins are not intended to cure ills - they’re intended to prevent deficiency diseases, under the assumption that the person taking them is actually eating some food in addition to the pills. People who can’t eat food are not given vitamin pills, they’re given other things and don’t need vitamin pills.

Again - the assumption is that people who use multivitamins are actually eating food as well as pills. You’re supposed to take vitamins with a meal, not as a snack unto themselves. And, by the way - spinach does not “naturally” occur with lemon juice, that’s also a manmade concoction.

Which also exist in fruit, which this person also apparently eats. There are minerals and rare elements in meat, fish, dairy…

So… because you don’t like it, it’s not a valid approach? If the only way the man likes his vegees are as a smoothie what the heck do I care?

The fact he likes tomato sauce on his pizza rather than biting into a raw tomato makes me think he likes his tomatoes cooked and of one texture throughout. That’s not that peculiar a mindset - my husband doesn’t eat raw tomatoes, either. Nothing wrong with stewed tomatoes, or tomatoes run through a blender into a smoothie. They’re still tomatoes.

The OP says he (I’m assuming OP is a he) views food in a very perfunctory way and doesn’t even enjoy eating for the most part, and you want him to make this into a complex thing requiring memorizing lists and charts and stuff? Look, eating is simple: eat a large variety of things, but keep the individual quantities small. Eat the most colorful food you can. Do those two things and it’s hard not to eat well.

I’d suggest the OP eat more fruit if he prefers fruit to vegetables, provided he actually eats the fruit and not just drink juice, and eat as many different kinds of fruit as he can. In addition, try to find some sort of vegetable he does like, or some way of preparing vegetables that he can tolerate whether or not anyone else likes them the way he does. Despite what the crunchy-granola set thinks, you can actually live a long, healthy life without a lot of vegetables as long as you get what you need from somewhere else. Nothing wrong with fruit. Nothing wrong with liking meat and bread. Nothing wrong with one multivitamin a day to smooth out anything you missed that day in your eating.

Cripes, the way some people carry on it’s a wonder the human race didn’t starve to death millennia ago.

Bran flakes are good, or even Frosted Mini-wheats.

Probably. Have you tried V-8?

Pro-biotics have been around long before Activa, it’s just an easy to remeber and get brand name. They do improve your gut and immune system. Pills, live culture yogurt, even some specially enhanced cheese are all sources.

I am not a real Doctor.

But how do we know this (that veggies potentially contain unisolated magical substances)? Is this just speculation? Got a cite?

Not being a dietician or nutritionist myself, I’ll just link to Wikipedia on this one. And they’re not “magical”; they presumably function in much the same way as the vitamins that we know about.