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MARGARET PROUSE: Article inspires food writer to take Mediterranean diet challenge

A beet, apple and berry smoothie.
A beet, apple and berry smoothie. - 123RF Stock Photo

It’s generally agreed that consuming a generous amount of vegetables every day is an important part of healthy eating.

In an article released last week, dietitian Leslie Beck listed seven ways to implement the Mediterranean diet, which is well regarded as a healthy and sustainable eating pattern.

In her list, was the recommendation to include at least one serving of vegetables in every meal of the day, including breakfast.

I always have a serving from the fruits and vegetables food group at breakfast, but it’s usually a fruit.

Since reading Beck’s article, I’ve been thinking about what breakfast with vegetables might look like and I’m challenging myself to have at least one serving for breakfast for the next 30 days. I started today.

Here are some of my ideas:

Smoothies and smoothie bowls are refreshing and tasty breakfast foods. I could improvise, throwing spinach leaves and mixed frozen fruit into the blender or follow a recipe such as the one below. 

Beets and Berries Smoothie Bowl
(From Lewis, Alison: “200 Best Smoothie Bowl Recipes” by Robert Rose Inc., Toronto, 2016)

60 mL (¼ cup) unsweetened apple juice

125 mL (½ cup) frozen blueberries

125 mL (½ cup) frozen strawberries

75 mL (⅓ cup) chopped cooked beets

Ice cubes (optional)

Suggested toppings are blueberries, strawberries, granola and chia seeds.

In a blender, combine apple juice, blueberries, strawberries and beets. Secure lid and blend, from low to high if using a variable-speed blender, until smooth. If a thicker consistency is desired add ice, one cube at a time, and blend until smooth.

Pour into a bowl or bowls and top with any of the suggested toppings, as desired.

Makes 1 to 2 servings

A fat veggie sandwich of grated carrots, sliced cucumber and tomato, lettuce and a swipe of garlic-gouda cheese spread on whole wheat bread will be a tasty way to start the day.  A more pared-back sandwich that’s quicker to make is peanut butter or almond butter with sprouts (or microgreens) on whole grain bread. It supplies healthy fats as well as a serving of vegetables.

A similar way to pair vegetables up with toast is by stirring grated carrots, along with a few chopped walnuts, into cream cheese and spreading it on a toasted multigrain bagel half.

Vegetables and eggs appear together in many delicious ways. I enjoy a breakfast salad of leafy greens tossed with citrusy vinaigrette and topped with an over-easy egg or a bistro-style salad with bitter greens, flavourful mustardy vinaigrette and a fried egg. Either is great served with croutons or a slice of whole grain toast.

A quick cooking omelette, wrapped around sautéed sliced mushrooms and a few shreds of grated cheese, is also tasty, as are scrambled eggs laced with chopped green onions and red peppers. Another option: poached egg atop wilted baby spinach on a toasted English muffin. Simpler still: carrot sticks alongside a hard cooked egg.

As a side dish for a simple fried egg, home fried potatoes and onions are hard to beat.  Add slices of grilled tomato, and it’s even better.

I like to have ideas for super-fast breakfast vegetables, as well, such as the childhood favourite, Ants on a Log, made with celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter and studded with raisins.

A more recent addition to my repertoire, avocado toast takes minutes to prepare. It’s just as you’d expect: a slice of toast topped with overlapping slices of avocado and served as an open face sandwich. It shows up all over Instagram and I know why. It looks and tastes great, especially topped with sesame seeds, za'atar or a drizzle of hot sauce.

A bowl of warmed-up leftover soup or stewed tomatoes with herbs and wholewheat crackers, roll or toast is a quick and warming start to the day.  Even faster is a handful of cherry tomatoes and a few slices of cucumber eaten with a chunk of cornbread or a roll.  

Putting vegetables on the breakfast table is a challenge, not because it’s difficult or more expensive than serving fruit, but because it’s a change from the way we usually do things. As with all habits, it takes thought, energy, and consistency to make changes. 

A 30-day challenge will kick-start the change.

Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at prouse@pei.sympatico.ca.

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