Eat Like an Olympian: Top Ten Veggie Gold Medalists
When it comes to competing for stellar placement in your grocery cart, consider vegetables to be the equivalent of Olympians—in fact, they are the gold-medal winners. Packed with fiber, macro- and micronutrients, phytochemicals, antioxidants, and other disease-preventing & health-enhancing qualities, they taste great and make you healthy at the same time.
1. Green leafy vegetables: Whether it’s kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, mustard greens, beet greens, turnip greens, bok choy or Brussels sprouts, these powerful yet graceful vegetables are the Michael Phelps of vegetables! Men, a little secret I’ll let you in on: The more greens you eat, the harder your wood gets. Leafy greens pump up the production of nitric oxide in your blood vessels, which is a potent vasodilator. Ditch the blue pill, and fill up on leafy greens. Cut them up, and toss ‘em in at the last minute to supercharge your soup or pasta! You can steam or stir-fry leafy greens with garlic and lemon juice or with a walnut or cashew sauce.
2. Sweet potatoes: Hearty and satiating, father of Olympic gold medal winner, Usain Bolt, attributes his son’s speed to his favorite food: the Jamaican sweet potato. His son has set two world records in the 100 and 200-meter dashes to show for it! ‘Nuff said. Wrap them up in aluminum foil, and place in the oven or toaster oven for one hour at 400 degrees. Sweet potatoes don’t need a thing; eat ‘em naked.
3. Beets: “Why so serious?” as the Joker would say. Anything that is blood red and can turn your stools a similar hue has every right to be deadly serious. Boil beets in water for 45 minutes or place in the toaster oven for 45-60 minutes. Immediately rinse them off in cold water, and feast your eyes on the beet as the brown outer layer flakes off and a glistening, silky red dermis reveals itself. Remember to cook up the beet greens as well!
4. Romaine lettuce: This robust, leafy green vegetable is a nutritional monster. Use this hearty and hefty lettuce as the foundation in salads instead of nutritionally vacant and boring iceberg lettuce. As an added bonus, Romaine lettuce will keep for several days in the chiller bin of your fridge.
5. Onions: Yeah, they may make your eyes water, but there’s nothing wrong with a few tears–even real men cry when they win a gold medal! Start any stir-fry, soup, or homemade pasta sauce with an onion. They are multi-layered and complex – just like us men.
6. Mushrooms: Technically a fungus, mushrooms are a strange breed, indeed. They come in a variety of weird shapes, sizes, and breeds–white button, shiitake, cremini, Portobello, and oyster to name a few–and all are delicious. Used as a meat substitute in any dish, mushrooms are a (wo-)man’s best friend.
7. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are a gift from the gods. Technically fruits, tomatoes are one badass, versatile food. You can use them in sandwiches, salads, casseroles, appetizers–like decathletes, they can be winners at almost everything.
8. Avocados: Ditch the saturated fat-laden and artery-clogging mayo and butter, and go for the green gold. Avocados are smooth, satisfying, and satiating, and win it all, either as a tasty condiment or a hearty side.
9. Bell Peppers: Red, gold, green, purple and orange, bell peppers make the top ten list due to their color, taste, presentation, and versatility. Whether cut up in pasta primavera sauce, stuffed, stir-fried, tossed in a salad, roasted, or even plain, bell peppers are an Engine 2 favorite and should be in every man’s quiver.
10. Asparagus: Asparagus was prized by the Romans as the vegetable of the Gods and is still valued as such today. Oddly, half of us have a gene that makes our urine stink within minutes after eating it. Ask ten people you know, and five will know what you’re talking about. But it’s a small price to pay for a wonderful veggie that can be eaten hot, cold, in salads, with grains and always makes a special addition to any meal.
Go for the gold!
For more on how to optimize your health, visit Engine2Diet.com
Photo credit: Darwin Bell
Originally published on December 13, 2011