Vegetables are key to the Zone Diet
By Dave Schreck
Back in the '80s and early '90s I was a faithful follower the USDA food pyramid guidelines, later to be proven wrong by Walter Willett, M.D., from the Harvard School of Public Health.
It was easy consuming 60% of my carbohydrates as complex starches: Muffins and cereal for breakfast, homemade corn tortillas with black beans and salsa for lunch and pasta for dinner. Appetizers consisted of chips and dips. Good thing I worked out about two hours a day as I barely maintained my weight and had to take daily naps.
Then in 1995 I changed my diet based on the Zone principles recommending 8-12 servings of vegetables daily. Translated: Consume two pounds of colorful non-starchy vegetables per day. Seriously, how would I prepare and eat all these vegetables? Here are a few tips on vegetable preparation and ways to prevent vegetable overload.
- Prepare fresh salads, such as broccoli salad, Greek salad, tomato salad, and cucumber salad. Recipes at www.zoneliving.com
- Grilled vegetables. On a medium-hot fire, cut large vegetables to increase surface area, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, and grill al dente. Suggestions: Peppers, scallions, eggplant, mushrooms, asparagus, red onion, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and summer squash. Use these in a grilled ratatouille.
- Sautéed: Slice, chop or dice according to your preference. In a 12-inch, non-stick skillet heat 1 tablespoon of high-oleic safflower oil (very low in omega-6s and high smoke point). Add vegetables, stirring frequently, until crisp and brightly colored. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and spices that you desire.
Do you consider consuming two pounds of vegetables as overload? How can you reduce the volume? Consider using those favorable carbohydrates that are more carbohydrate dense, such as black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas (used in hummus) and lentils. One-fourth cup of lentils equals 9 grams of carbohydrate; 4 cups of broccoli equal 9 grams of carbohydrate. If you loved broccoli, you could eat 12 cups, however, a combination would prevent vegetable overload.
Here's to a summer of fresh local vegetables!