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Vegetables: Food of Optimists

Vegetables: Food of Optimists


A new study found a positive correlation between vegetable consumption and optimism. Things are looking up

All this science urging us to eat vegetables really has us stocking up on broccoli and carrots, and it's probably a good thing. A new study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine found that men and women who had more carotenoids in their blood also had a higher degree of optimism.

"This study is the first of its kind to report a relationship between optimism and healthier levels of carotenoids," Boehm said. In the past, research has found a link between junk food and depression, but this is the first study looking at positive psychological benefits of food.

The study surveyed around 1,000 men and women, examining their blood concentration for various antioxidants as well as their psychological state with a questionnaire.

The result? People who were more optimistic had a 13 percent increase in carotenoid concentrations than people who were less optimistic. In fact, people who had two or fewer servings of fruits or vegetables a day were more pessimistic than people who ate three or more servings a day.

Study results, however, aren't conclusive enough to show a change in optimism due to diet. "Our findings can be partially explained by the fact that more optimistic people tend to engage in healthier behaviors such as eating fruits and vegetables and avoiding cigarette smoking," lead study author Julia Boehm says. Of course, we might just look on the bright side. It's a possibility that fruits and vegetables help increase optimism.


Gill Meller's recipes for slow-cooked vegetables

Gill Meller’s celeriac baked potatoes. Photograph: Andrew Montgomery. Food and prop styling: Gill Meller.

Gill Meller’s celeriac baked potatoes. Photograph: Andrew Montgomery. Food and prop styling: Gill Meller.

I spent a long time watching things grow last year. The peas, courgettes and spinach seemed to spring up in the blink of an eye, and they could be cooked pretty quickly, too, but the roots I planted, such as potatoes and carrots, seemed to enjoy taking their time. The celeriac, for instance, took months to develop into something sweet and nutty, but it was well worth the wait. It’s the same in the kitchen: slow down, cook gently, watch and wait … it always pays off in the end.


A Farmer to Chefs Reveals His Deep Vegetable Knowledge

NEW YORK &mdash Despite thousands of years of humans working the soil, there are still things to learn. Just ask Farmer Lee Jones about the beet leaves.

The Ohio-based farmer had planted too many beets and the surplus was dumped in a pile in a cooler. He returned later to find that when he dug below the first layer, to where the beets got no light exposure, beautiful leaves were growing out of the vegetable in the dark.

"It's a yellow leaf with red veins. And it's one of the sexiest things that you can imagine," he says. "We're like, 'Holy smokes, this is nicer than anything we grew on purpose!'"

You might not find plants particularly sexy until you speak to Jones and catch his infectious enthusiasm for farming. He's a relentless experimenter, willing to try new techniques, new ideas and new flavors.

"There are literally thousands of plants and vegetables to be explored," he says. "We have a saying that we try and work in harmony with Mother Nature rather than trying to outsmart her."

Jones' deep knowledge about vegetables and growing them is soon available via "The Chef's Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables &mdash with Recipes." The 640-page handsome book is equal parts vegetable reference bible, family memoir and recipe collection. It comes out April 27.

"We try in the book to really look for different ways to be able to utilize plants in America. We kind of think one-dimensionally," he says. "We do bone marrow. Why can't we do vegetable marrow?"

Jones is the face of The Chef's Garden, a sustainable, 350-acre family farm in Huron that provides chefs worldwide with seasonal specialty vegetables, microgreens, herbs and edible flowers.

Name a starry chef and there's a good chance they've done business with The Chef's Garden: José Andrés, Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Ferran Adrià, among them. With his welcoming air and signature denim bib overalls and red bow tie, Jones has become something of a celebrity, too.

The Chef's Garden grows 700 kinds of vegetables, with 150 to 200 more in trials. There's a lab where scientists analyze the soil and seeds, and there's also the Culinary Vegetable Institute, which attracts 600 visiting chefs a year to share their knowledge and cook together.

Readers of the book will find new ways to prepare vegetables, from celery root to cauliflower, and learn about more unusual ingredients like carrot seeds, knotweed and radish seed pods.

"For several thousand years, we always ate only the top of the carrot plant. It's only been in the last few hundred years that we started eating the bottom of the carrot. Now nobody eats the top," Jones says.

Jones' farm is surrounded by 5,000-acre commercial farms, and he does things differently: Instead of chemicals, he uses 15 species of cover crop to replenish the soil. He argues that American farmers have lost their way regarding food and health.

"I don't knock the other farmers. They're following the model that exists and that's to keep the costs as low as possible and the tons per acre as high as possible. It's not about the integrity of the plant. It's about the tons per acre," he says. "We're a bunch of odd ducks out here, for sure."

Above all, Jones emphasizes taste and minimizing waste. He looks to Europeans, who learned over centuries of struggle with food insecurity to use every part of their animals.

Take oxtail, a peasant food for years. "They figured out great ways to make good dishes with the flavor of the oxtail. And then Thomas Keller comes over here and puts an oxtail on a plate and it's 90 bucks."

Jones wants to showcase vegetables, and the book offers attractive and tasty options, from Butter-Poached Squash with Hemp Seed and Coriander to Potato Pierogi with Caramelized Onion Chips.

The book has a forward written by Andres and is co-written with Kristin Donnelly, with recipes by Jamie Simpson. Lucia Watson, the book's editor for Avery, says it is timely.

"Vegetables are the center of our plate more and more. And it is kind of where all of the exciting cooking is coming from &mdash experimenting with vegetables," she says.

"This gives home cooks an incredible window into that and an incredible resource. It introduces them to vegetables that they may not have heard of before, but they see at their farmer's market and think, 'What if I brought that home? What would I do with it?' And it also makes them look at vegetables that they've taken for granted."

Jones got his love of farming from his dad and keeps a foot in the past &mdash he admires what farmers before him accomplished and reveres old farm machinery &mdash as well as embracing modern technology for things like crop analysis and distribution.

"My dad had a saying that the only thing we're trying to do is get as good as the growers were 100 years ago. It was pre-chemical, pre-synthetic fertilizer, rotating the land, rebuilding the soil," he says.

COVID-19 was a wake-up call for Jones to diversify since The Chef's Kitchen found its links to chefs and cruise lines severed when those business shuttered. The farm has since pivoted to nationwide home delivery and opened a farmer's market while it waits for restaurants to rebound.

But Jones, ever the optimist, sees a silver lining even in a pandemic: There has been a surge of people interested in growing their own food and planting vegetables.

"Kids emulate parents behavior. And guess what? Parents planted gardens and kids wanted to go help. And when a kid grows a carrot and they pull it out, even if they didn't like it before, they're more interested in trying a carrot," he says. "So I think out of the ashes of this we have to find those good things."


Explore:

Use healthy oils (like olive and canola oil) for cooking, on salad, and at the table. Limit butter. Avoid trans fat.

Drink water, tea, or coffee (with little or no sugar). Limit milk/dairy (1-2 servings/day) and juice (1 small glass/day). Avoid sugary drinks.

The more veggies &mdash and the greater the variety &mdash the better. Potatoes and French fries don’t count.

Eat plenty of fruits of all colors

Choose fish, poultry, beans, and nuts limit red meat and cheese avoid bacon, cold cuts, and other processed meats.

Eat a variety of whole grains (like whole-wheat bread, whole-grain pasta, and brown rice). Limit refined grains (like white rice and white bread).

Incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.

A monthly update filled with nutrition news and tips from Harvard experts—all designed to help you eat healthier. Sign up here.

Explore the downloadable guide with tips and strategies for healthy eating and healthy living.


Choose fresh, frozen and canned vegetables and vegetable juices without added sodium, fat or sugar.

  • If using canned or frozen vegetables, look for ones that say no salt added on the label.
  • As a general rule, frozen or canned vegetables in sauces are higher in both fat and sodium.
  • If using canned vegetables with sodium, drain the vegetables and rinse with water to decrease how much sodium is left on the vegetables.

For good health, try to eat at least three to five servings of vegetables a day. This is a minimum and more is better! A serving of vegetables is:


Vegetable Paella

Vegetable paella takes inspiration from traditional Spanish-style paella but leaves out the meat and fish and adds extra veggies instead. Our version features peppers, red chile, tomato, and green beans, plus a ton of herbs and spices so that there&rsquos no shortage of flavor. And if you&rsquove never tried paella, allow us to introduce you to this vibrant Spanish rice dish that originated in the eastern coastal city of Valencia.

Traditional paella is typically loaded with seafood, chicken, or meat like spicy chorizo (or a combo!) and it always features an abundance of perfectly cooked rice. Better yet, it&rsquos made and served in one pot, which makes it an ideal pick for a weeknight meal. This vegetarian version is perfect for Meatless Mondays or any day of the week that you feel like getting a little more greens. Plus, this is a dairy-free and vegan recipe, so it fits into a variety of diets. Basically, there&rsquos no reason not to try out this delicious, easy rice dish!

How to make homemade paella

-Traditional paella is made in a paella pan, but it&rsquos not necessary for this recipe. Just make sure you have a large (12-inch) skillet. We prefer cast iron because it retains heat and helps form a delicious crust on the bottom of the rice.

-While we prefer Arborio rice for paella, you can experiment with different types of short- or medium-grain rice if that&rsquos all you have on hand. Read the package&rsquos directions to adjust the cooking time and amount of liquid needed. Note that certain varieties, like brown rice, will take significantly longer to cook.

-For an added protein boost, stir in a can of chickpeas (rinsed) before serving.


Quick vegetarian recipes

Rustle up a sumptuous veggie meal in half an hour or less. We've got pasta, curries, stir-fries and a whole host of other speedy vegetarian and vegan dishes.

Caponata pasta

Whip up our easy vegetarian caponata pasta in just 20 minutes. It's simple to make and packs three of your five-a-day into one delicious meal

Coconut & squash dhansak

This quick and easy vegetarian curry is perfect for a healthy weeknight dinner – with butternut squash, coconut milk, lentils and spinach

Vegetarian fajitas

Looking for a quick and easy veggie family meal? Try these meat-free fajitas, loaded with black beans, avocado and peppers, which take just 15 minutes to make

Gnocchi with mushrooms & blue cheese

Soft, creamy goat's cheese or a deliciously strong blue cheese both work well in this easy veggie supper that's on the table in just 20 minutes

Indian chickpeas with poached eggs

This quick, fibre-rich veggie supper is filling and good for you too. Chickpeas are a great source of manganese, which is essential for healthy bone structure

Sweetcorn & courgette fritters

An easy, vegetarian fritter you can have on the table in 25 minutes. Top with an egg with a runny yolk and a drizzle of our chilli dressing

Pea & leek open lasagne

Make this healthy pea and leek lasagne in just 25 minutes. It delivers three of your 5-a-day and costs less than £2 a serving – perfect for midweek suppers

Vegan ramen

Enjoy this vegan ramen for a tasty midweek meal in just 25 minutes. Dried mushrooms and miso paste give the broth plenty of umami flavour

Spiced halloumi & pineapple burger with zingy slaw

Pack four of your 5-a-day into these tasty veggie burgers with barbecued halloumi. Wrap in lettuce cups instead of buns for a healthy, low-calorie option

Veggie Chinese pancakes

Skip the duck and serve reader Anthea Hawdon's vegetarian pancakes with hoisin sauce, mushrooms and greens

Vegan Thai green curry

Get your kids helping out in the kitchen with this child-friendly vegan Thai green curry. With tofu and lots of veggies, it's full of flavour

Avocado & black bean eggs

Set yourself up for the day with this healthy veggie breakfast with eggs, avocado and black beans. It takes just 10 minutes to throw together and makes a great lunch, too


Mexican Vegetable Skillet

This Mexican Vegetable Skillet full of veggies and flavor is a healthy vegetable side dish and the perfect side dish for any Mexican meal!

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbs vegetable or avocado oil
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 2" cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced into half coins
  • 1 medium summer squash, sliced into half coins
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1" pieces
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients.
  4. Cook, stirring frequently, for 6-8 minutes, or until crisp tender
Nutrition Information:

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Ohio farmer reveals deep knowledge of vegetables

NEW YORK &mdash Despite thousands of years of humans working the soil, there are still things to learn. Just ask Farmer Lee Jones about the beet leaves.

The Ohio-based farmer had planted too many beets, and the surplus was dumped in a pile in a cooler. He returned later to find that when he dug below the first layer, to where the beets got no light exposure, beautiful leaves were growing out of the vegetable in the dark.

"It's a yellow leaf with red veins. And it's one of the sexiest things that you can imagine," he says. "We're like, 'Holy smokes, this is nicer than anything we grew on purpose!'"

You might not find plants particularly sexy until you speak to Jones and catch his infectious enthusiasm for farming. He's a relentless experimenter, willing to try new techniques, new ideas and new flavors.

"There are literally thousands of plants and vegetables to be explored," he says. "We have a saying that we try and work in harmony with Mother Nature rather than trying to outsmart her."

Jones' deep knowledge about vegetables and growing them is soon available via "The Chef's Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables &mdash with Recipes." The 640-page handsome book is equal parts vegetable reference bible, family memoir and recipe collection. It came out April 27.

"We try in the book to really look for different ways to be able to utilize plants in America. We kind of think one-dimensionally," he says. "We do bone marrow. Why can't we do vegetable marrow?"

Jones is the face of The Chef's Garden, a sustainable, 350-acre family farm in Huron that provides chefs worldwide with seasonal specialty vegetables, microgreens, herbs and edible flowers.

Name a starry chef, and there's a good chance they've done business with The Chef's Garden: José Andrés, Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Ferran Adrià among them. With his welcoming air and signature denim bib overalls and red bow tie, Jones has become something of a celebrity, too.

The Chef's Garden grows 700 kinds of vegetables, with 150 to 200 more in trials. There's a lab where scientists analyze the soil and seeds, and there's also the Culinary Vegetable Institute, which attracts 600 visiting chefs a year to share their knowledge and cook together.

Readers of the book will find new ways to prepare vegetables, from celery root to cauliflower, and learn about more unusual ingredients like carrot seeds, knotweed and radish seed pods.

"For several thousand years, we always ate only the top of the carrot plant. It's only been in the last few hundred years that we started eating the bottom of the carrot. Now nobody eats the top," Jones says.

Jones' farm is surrounded by 5,000-acre commercial farms, and he does things differently: Instead of chemicals, he uses 15 species of cover crop to replenish the soil. He argues that American farmers have lost their way regarding food and health.

"I don't knock the other farmers. They're following the model that exists, and that's to keep the costs as low as possible and the tons per acre as high as possible. It's not about the integrity of the plant. It's about the tons per acre," he says. "We're a bunch of odd ducks out here, for sure."

Above all, Jones emphasizes taste and minimizing waste. He looks to Europeans, who learned over centuries of struggle with food insecurity to use every part of their animals.

Take oxtail, a peasant food for years. "They figured out great ways to make good dishes with the flavor of the oxtail. And then Thomas Keller comes over here and puts an oxtail on a plate, and it's 90 bucks."

Jones wants to showcase vegetables, and the book offers attractive and tasty options, from Butter-Poached Squash with Hemp Seed and Coriander to Potato Pierogi with Caramelized Onion Chips.

The book has a foreword written by Andres and is co-written with Kristin Donnelly, with recipes by Jamie Simpson. Lucia Watson, the book's editor for Avery, says it is timely.

"Vegetables are the center of our plate more and more. And it is kind of where all of the exciting cooking is coming from &mdash experimenting with vegetables," she says.

"This gives home cooks an incredible window into that and an incredible resource. It introduces them to vegetables that they may not have heard of before, but they see at their farmers market and think, 'What if I brought that home? What would I do with it?' And it also makes them look at vegetables that they've taken for granted."

Jones got his love of farming from his dad and keeps a foot in the past &mdash he admires what farmers before him accomplished and reveres old farm machinery &mdash as well as embracing modern technology for things like crop analysis and distribution.

"My dad had a saying that the only thing we're trying to do is get as good as the growers were 100 years ago. It was pre-chemical, pre-synthetic fertilizer, rotating the land, rebuilding the soil," he says.

COVID-19 was a wake-up call for Jones to diversify since The Chef's Kitchen found its links to chefs and cruise lines severed when those business shuttered. The farm has since pivoted to nationwide home delivery and opened a farmers market while it waits for restaurants to rebound.

But Jones, ever the optimist, sees a silver lining even in a pandemic: There has been a surge of people interested in growing their own food and planting vegetables.

"Kids emulate parents' behavior. And guess what? Parents planted gardens, and kids wanted to go help. And when a kid grows a carrot and they pull it out, even if they didn't like it before, they're more interested in trying a carrot," he says. "So I think out of the ashes of this, we have to find those good things."


How To Make The Grilled Vegetable Medley

This recipe is super easy to throw together. The most difficult part is just chopping all of your veggies, so if
you really wanted to, you could just buy the pre-chopped bags in the produce section and skip the labor.

But there&rsquos just something about buying them whole and chopping them myself (or watching my brother-in-law chop them, anyway) that feels fresher and more natural.

Once the chopping is over, just toss them in a bowl with the oil, salt, and pepper and put them into the grill basket.

We use our grill basket SO often during grilling season! It makes it so easy to grill small pieces of things (like these vegetables) that might otherwise fall through the grates.

Then it&rsquos just waiting and stirring and waiting and stirring.

And, in our case on this particular day, running inside to warm up, kicking the snow off our shoes, and running back outside.

And then you have a fresh and healthy summer side dish that goes well with just about anything!

They were the perfect accompaniment to our salmon burgers that day, but we&rsquove also had them with steaks, hamburgers, hotdogs, grilled pizza, and so many other things.

You really can&rsquot go wrong! Oh, and depending on the size of your grill basket, you may want to make them in two batches. Sometimes they don&rsquot cook as evenly when the basket is completely full.


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