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Minimum requirements - forgotten veggies

I've seen a lot of posts on here asking what the minimum amount of protein should be - and the max. And how much fat we should have. And the minimum and max for beans, and the minimum amount of water.

When people are asking about those ratios, I almost never see questions about the minimum amount of vegetables we should eat. I'm bringing this up because I see a lot of people post that they have 1/4 or 1/2 pound of meat, 1/2 to 1 cup of beans, and then "a handful of spinach leaves" which is almost nothing. That cooks down to what, 1 or 2 tablespoons of vegetables?

I was thinking it might be helpful if people who have been successful to post their ratios of meats to beans to vegetables, or an amount of veggies they typically eat with a meal, or even cooler, photos that show a typical plate of food.

If I'm making an omelet, about 2/3 of the bulk is vegetable matter and the egg is there to sort of bind it together. When I make a salad, I fill a large mixing bowl (like you'd set out for a family) and between dinner and the next day's breakfast (and sometimes lunch) I can finish it off.

I'd love to hear what the rest of you are doing - if some of you are having great success with the handful of fresh spinach method (in which case I should stop hassling the spinach leaf crowd!), or if the longer term people who have dropped a fair amount of weight have upped their vegetables and had more success.

editing to add photos of an omelet here. First up - just the veggies getting cooked. This is broccoli and 6 whole mushrooms laid overtop of a thick slab of bacon for grease:


Next, here's how it looks with 4 eggs added - the bulk of it is the veggies not the egg:


and it fills up an entire dinner plate:


For reference: I'm at 130lbs and maintaining for the last 3 months. This breakfast is 478 calories (bacon could be cut for 84 less calories), 17 carbs, 27g fat, 38g protein, 6g fiber.


The Best Answer

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Great entry!

I aim for 8-10 cups of mainly cruciferous or leafy green veggies per day. Half of that would be raw. I do a huge cook-up 1-2x a week of roasted, or grilled and sautéed veggies to last me for a few days. The rest comes in the form of salads. Now that the weather is getting warmer, salads are more prevalent.

Right now my 'go to' meal is a marinated salad of roasted/grilled veggies (eg. squash, peppers, eggplant, cauliflower, turnip), raw chopped veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, cucumbers, peppers), a can of lentils and a couple cups of shelled edamame.Veggie to legume ratio is about 4:1, so 4 cups of veggies for every cup of legumes.

I toss it all with dressing made with macadamian nut oil, balsamic vinegar, whole grain mustard, fresh herbs and a minced garlic. I have 3-4 cup serving per meal.

If I have it post-workout ( I am on Occam's Protocol), I'll add a scoop of rice or quinoa or serve it on top of a roasted sweet potato. Otherwise I have it in a bed of shredded lettuce or spinach. I top it with my protein of choice.

I also have a big pot of sautéed veggies dubbed my 'Cauldron of Green' that contains cabbage, zucchini, celery, kale, broccoli, edamame/legumes sautéed in bacon fat. It has a similar veggie to legume ratio as the salad.This serves as a great base for meals. I just reheat, add some supplementary flavouring ( curry, tamari, hot sauce, scoop of salsa, chimicurri, tapenade, various herbs and spices) and topped with protein of choice.

  • Jake commented May 21st 2012:

    I like the roasted veggie salad idea so much that I just made some with eggplant, squash and mushrooms that were in my fridge. I do a lot of roasted vegetables but hadn't thought to use the leftovers like that. Thanks so much for that suggestion!

  • arctichacker commented May 22nd 2012:

    You're welcome! I love the natural sweetness of roasted veggies.

  • Maria Rider commented May 22nd 2012:

    I have discovered the wonder of stir fry and roasted veggies...OMG so much better than just nuked with ghee and salt steamed veggies. :) I was starting to go crazy. :)

  • Maria Rider commented May 22nd 2012:

    Totally going to the local farmers markets and picking up tons of veggies this summer! This is the first summer of my new life! :) Gonna fortify it with lots of veggies, lean meats, and legumes! :)

  • arctichacker commented May 23rd 2012:

    So jealous! I miss the farmers markets up here. However, I do get to hunt all the local meat, bird and fish I want. Can't complain too much.

    Along with roasting, grilling does wonders for most veggies too.

    I grilled up a head of romaine lettuce last night and topped it with balsamic vinegar and a slab of local grilled fish. Nomnomnomnom.

All Answers


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You're absolutely right. I was squarely in the "handful of spinach" camp and struggling mightily. One of the big changes I made was changing the veggie of choice and making a huge increase in the amount consumed. I now eat at least a cup of steamed broccoli with each meal. Interestingly, I've found that the tough stalk of the head of broccoli is a really convenient snack item, too. My wife tends to avoid the stalk, so I'll just add the stalk to the end of my lunch, and that can sometimes be as much as 3/4 cup more fiber. I eat it more or less like a carrot. Switching to a more dense vegetable and consuming much more of it has really helped.


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THANK YOU, Jake! I've noticed "missing veggies" in many posts as well and have wondered what was going on. I always recommend to folks that AT LEAST half of the plate should be cooked veggies. I visualize the plate divided into 4 quadrants. One is protein, one is legume, 2 are cooked veggies. If it's raw veggies I'm having, like salad greens and such, it will be a huge bowlful, like maybe 4-6 loose cups.

There's simply no such thing as too many (non-starchy/low-sugar) veggies in my book. There are over 10,000 micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, enzymes etc) that we all need, and the green veggies are essential!!

Whether it speeds or slows my fat loss, I don't care, really -- I'm still going to have a huge amount of green veggies every day. I'm convinced that it's what is making me well -- and in turn allowing my body to drop the excess fat.



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I aim for at least half the plate to be veggies. I also try to sneak extra veggies into everything - the chili I made last night included tomatoes, squash, red & yellow peppers, mushrooms, onion and spinach. My breakfast fritattas have lots of spinach, mushrooms, peppers, artichoke hearts and onions. Lunches are salads with lots of greens and veggies.

I also often make what I call crack cauliflower (roasted with curry) and eat an entire head in one seating or else roasted brussels sprouts.

Beans tend to make up the smallest portion on the plate, since people seem to drop more weight when they cut them back.


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Vegies, absolutely! The biggest change I've noticed since we amended our diet is how MUCH vegies we eat now compared with what we used to! I always used to cook up some peas or broccoli to go on the side of our pasta or rice meal, but that was like a 1/2-1cup and that would be it - ALL DAY. (more often than not) Now, there's a heap of vegies on our plates. Agreed, at least half the plate ends up as vegies.

And I have discovered the JOY of balsamic vinegar on my vegies. Came about from a dish that was roasted meat along with red onions, garlic & little tomatoes; the balsamic became the sauce. WOW poured over the heads of broccoli & cauliflower on my plate and it was an instant winner :)

Breakfast is probably the worst vege meal for us, but half the plate is usually cooked up beans to get you going for the day. But lunch and dinner? The easiest way to go this route at work is vegies you can easily nuke in the microwave at work. Bonza!

  • Rocky commented May 24th 2012:

    Just make sure the balsamic you're using doesn't have any hidden sugar. I was using one that had sugar and it stalled me for a couple of weeks.


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OK. I'm probably an offender of the too little veggie club and I'll openly admit because I just don't like vegetables, me consuming any veggies is a shocker to my dad and any of my ex girlfriends :P

I have 2-3 handfuls of spinach wilted down at breakfast (probably 1/4-1/2 cup wilted), and somewhere in the 1/4-1/2 cup cooked broccoli range for both lunches 1 & 2. Dinner is typically a normal size bowl of salad (romaine, spinach & sometimes iceburg lettuce) or a fair amount of stir fried snow peas, celery, & broccoli. (I'm omitting my proteins because that's not the topic up for discussion).

So as a reforming vegetable hater I ask you more vegetable tolerant folks ways in which to cook my veggies so they're edible. The roasted broccoli I picked up from someone on here (gretchen? jake?) has been a HUGE help. Any other bright ideas like that? And please don't mention brussel sprouts or squash, I will literally projectile vomit through the internetz all over you.

  • Gretchen Linden commented May 19th 2012:

    LOL, Rocky! Okey doke, no brussels sprouts or squash! Well, you've made TREMENDOUS progress, then, if you never ate any veggies before! That's cool. Glad you like the roasted broccoli. Have you tried pureed cauliflower? It's kinda like mashed potatoes; lots of variations here, but I like to grate raw cauliflower (like the entire head, so I have a lot that's ready to nuke at other times), and maybe add a grated carrot too. Microwave with a little water until cooked through. Puree with an immersible blender stick thing with butter, heavy cream, salt & pepper. Or use the food processor. My friend adds parmesan cheese and garlic to it. Haven't tried that but sounds good!

  • Gretchen Linden commented May 19th 2012:

    Also, how about a ratatouille of sorts? Eggplant cubes, mushrooms, onion, garlic, tomatoes, Italian herbs all stewed together. (If I suggest adding grated zucchini to that will you still vomit? Ha!) Can you tolerate cucumbers? My sister makes a cool bean salad from black beans, diced cucumber, red onion and tomato, with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar added. It's chilled and a refreshing side dish (to me, anyway!). Or, do you like bell peppers? I think it's great to saute green, red, yellow bell pepper strips with strips of onion in olive oil until it's all carmelized and then add a little chili powder and cumin and garlic salt. Fajita veggies! YUM.

  • Rocky commented May 19th 2012:

    That sounds edible; though I would leave out any cream or cheese as I try to be fairly strict on non-cheat days. Though this recipe would require me to buy some kitchen stuff (immersion blender, grater & food processor) - not a problem, but I'm not prepared to make this one. I have been really curious about the mashed no-tato though.

  • Gretchen Linden commented May 19th 2012:

    Oh, and for that pureed cauliflower/mashed faux-tatoes, if you add a bit of cooked red lentils or canned white beans, it gives it a more potato-like texture. Ooooh! Asparagus? How about some of that, steamed, or cooked in shallow water in a broad pan (I use my big frying pan and just put the stalks in whole). Covered in butter, with maybe a little squirt of lemon juice is delicious (to many. Ha!) Roasted asparagus is a great treat to me, also. Lightly coat with olive oil and bake at high heat or grill it. I also love grilled eggplant, basted with garlicky olive oil while it grills. Actually, I love filling the whole grill with eggplant slices, zucchini halves, thick tomato and onion slices. YUM! (Now my grocery list I was working on is expanding....ha!)

  • Gretchen Linden commented May 19th 2012:

    Then there are soups. (I'm reminding myself of Bubba in Forrest Gump with the shrimp monologue...."you can boil 'em, you can bake 'em..." Ha!) Anytime I make chicken, turkey or beef soup, I toss in as many veggies as I can think of: carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms, maybe peas or a bit of chopped tomato.

  • Gretchen Linden commented May 19th 2012:

    Cabbage! I love it. You can simmer it in chicken stock and add some onion and a bit of bell pepper until soft. Add ham or bacon, even, if you want to go that far. I love munching on raw cabbage, too, while I'm cooking. And I almost always add a nice amount of grated cabbage to my pot of chili when I make it (along with carrot, celery and onion) to add nutrients and fiber and to "stretch" it. You can't even taste them in the chili. How about cole slaw? If you look for no or low-sugar slaw dressing, you might be able to do that now and then without it messing things up. How about pickles? I know they're high in sodium, but sometimes a pickle-fest is just the ticket for me. Not the sweet kind, though. Hate those.

  • Gretchen Linden commented May 19th 2012:

    Well, that's all I'm going to do right now. Even if only 1 or 2 of these would be something that would help you, that'd be good. Check out vegetarian cookbooks -- they're loaded with interesting veggies things of course, and things we might not usually think to try. OH-- SWISS CHARD..I almost forgot that! I love the stuff. I get it fresh, the kind with the ruby stalks. Wash it and cut it all up into wide strips. Heat some bacon grease if you have it, and dump the stem ends in to saute (the take longer to cook than the thin parts) along with diced onion, then dump in the rest of the chard, add some chicken stock if you have it, or a little water, put a lid on and let it wilt down. It cooks quickly. It's similar to spinach, but a milder flavor and I just love it.

  • Jake commented May 19th 2012:

    Tagging onto the soup suggestion - you can hide the veggies in the soup if you need to by cooking them in the broth til they are mush and then hitting them with a stick blender. If you do that with cauliflower (or the dreaded zucchini) it will stop being a vegetable and will turn into a generic soup thickener and you'll have something like a thick cream soup.

    You can also try kale chips if you haven't yet. They are the best potato chip substitute ever.

  • Andrew Haigh commented Aug 17th 2012:

    I love some of the suggestions in here, definitely gonna try stir-frying some veges with plenty of oil and spices next week and adding eggplant and maybe capsicum(?) - I think that's what we call "bell peppers" here. Only downside will be extra preparation time and extra washing up vs the microwave method. Still, if I can do a whole lot and refrigerate for multiple meals - hang on I'm running out of plastic containers! Whatever, I'll work something out. I already do the cauliflower mashed no-tato, it's a winner already but I'm gonna be adding some lentils soon.

    Personally though I'll be giving the mushrooms and asparagus a miss - projectile vomit material for me. Each to their own.

  • Dawn George commented Dec 6th 2012:

    gretchenlin - I wanna come to your house to eat all these yummy recipes!! keep em coming - thanks

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