冷蔵庫に残っていた野菜を一気に使って作った自己流東欧風スープ JACKIE HOFFART PHOTO
"Eat your veggies," is a common refrain around the world, uttered from mothers and fathers to their children each night at dinner. Somehow it seems that children never really like vegetables.
I sometimes behave as if I don't like them either; I'm hesitant to buy fruits and vegetables, or I fear I won't know how to cook them properly or I'm just not craving them. But they taste so delicious when prepared with care and they are so full of important nutrients — I don't have any good reason not to buy them.
My school life these days is simply too busy to cook regularly, which means fresh produce (when I do buy it) frequently dies a lonely death in my fridge.
So I decided to take on this challenge for two reasons: One, I want to be conscious of my nutrition and raise the general level of it. Two, I need to make sure I'm eating enough vitamins and nutrients so that I don't get sick. (I am not permitted to miss class, even if I am sick!)
Every country has its own guidelines on how many servings of fruits and vegetables you should eat each day, and I've never been anywhere near that target — no matter which country I've been living in.
My first approach was to load up on vegetables at the grocery store. Instead of having peanut butter and jam on toast, I started having avocado and tomatoes on toast. Simple fix; done.
Lunch and dinner, however, were much more difficult to manage because I'm so often on the go and tend to just grab anything, usually something greasy and bready.
As the first week went on I could almost hear the veggies crying out from inside my fridge: "Cook me! Eat me! I'm dying!" But I couldn't do much about my schedule, so I decided to change tactics.
I went to an upscale organic supermarket and bought a bunch of "strategic" snacks to keep at school: a giant box of juicy clementines, some delicious British Columbia apples, a bunch of vegetable juice boxes, and some vitamin supplements.
The rule I've maintained for roughly the last week is that whenever I feel like I need a snack, I eat some fruit or have a glass of water with a vitamin tablet dissolved in it. It would be better to get my vitamins directly from my food rather than through a processed powder, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
So at the end of my second week I still had all of those veggies from the beginning of the challenge in my fridge. Luckily (and weirdly?) the veggies seem to last longer here than they do in Japan. But I wasn't sure they would be very good in a raw state, so I knew what had to be done: It was time to make a soup!
I made a giant pot of improvised eastern-European style soup, which to me means sausage, cabbage and whatever else is lying around. I started with a vegetable stock and water base, and added chopped potatoes to make sure they had time to cook. I added sauteed onions and some grilled Polish sausage to give the soup a heartier flavor. Eventually I added carrots, cabbage and broccoli. I adjusted the spices, adding a bit of lemon and butter as well as a healthy serving of pepper and salt. It would've been great if I had parsley, but my soup turned out pretty great without it.
My housemate and I had a giant bowl each that night, and I still had five servings left to take to school for lunches. Even though it might be a bit boring, I've had one each day and it's been delicious every time.
I admire Japanese cuisine for the prominence it gives vegetables. Unfortunately most North American cuisines don't share that focus and the results are much heavier (and I think less healthy). This challenge has reinforced for me just how difficult it is to consume a sufficient amount of nutrients and vitamins. I'm determined to continue to put in the effort to eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can. Now, if only I had a juicer ...
Next time: What if I ... write a haiku every day?