For those who have children, these timeless words of the cookie monster from Sesame Street, will no doubt be words delightfully and frequently heard in the corridors of one’s home. “Yum, Yum, Yum!”
But for those of us who eat veggies with scrunched-up noses, the same cannot always be said. Look, I understand. I’m a guy’s guy. Veggies were not always my thing. Burger’s, pizza’s, snackwiches, and 100g of Cadburys – now those could elicit the kind of joy akin to getting a new bicycle. But I just couldn’t say the same for my veggies.
I would look dubiously at those mischievous little broccoli branches with the suspicion that they rightly deserved, just as much as they would seemingly eye me back with similar disdain from my plate. But, that has all changed!
Let me start at the beginning – I have never been a great cook. When I first lived in a house full of friends at varsity, I came to the digs armed with three children’s recipes kindly afforded to me by my more culinary inclined sister who knew a capsicum from a cucumber, which, by Jove, was a lot more than I knew. But I thought: Bollocks to the children’s recipes! How hard can cooking be?
My first meal I creatively named: Carrot Curry Surprise. Yes, ‘Surprise’ said it all. There are some surprises in life that we can all do without. Like a prostate infection. And a wet seat at the cinema. My first meal, was one such surprise. I had the misconceived notion that one could purchase awesome ingredients, wizzle (is that even a word? – Ed.) them all together at 180 degrees, and ta daa, out would pop a tantalizing meal. Not so. I purchased carrots (lots of them), cocktail sausages, curry powder, cinnamon, and rice; all such independently promising and delicious ingredients. And yet the cacophony of awesomeness that I was anticipating simply did not materialize when I merged all these ingredients together.
The two girls in our house were particularly kind and reshaped the slosh that I delivered into a half moon shape that made as if they had consumed some of my veritably delightful meal, although in practice no such consumption had in fact taken place. The dudes in the house were less accommodating, and vowed that unless I pulled my proverbial socks up, I would soon be finding new accommodation. It seemed our long standing high school friendships were of little value at this particular fork in the culinary road.
So in short, I’m no Jamie-what’s-his-face. Nigela need not fear that any cookbook I release may knock her from her podium of delicious world domination. But that said, I have learnt one thing over the years. Veggies are vital. There is a lot of nutritional confusion out there. One specialist advocates protein and greens to the exclusion of carbs. Another propounds a vegan way of life, while yet another cautions us against excessive fish intake due to the increasing levels of mercury present in the ocean. There is a lot of contradiction. But through the nutritional mystification, and the 134 new miracle diets with which we are bamboozled every month, one strong theme is interwoven in almost every recommendation – the value of the veggie.
So before you rush out and stock your freezer with 3kg of goji berries freshly imported from Tibet, consider less drastic changes to your lifestyle. It is the more subtle changes to life that are more palatable, and more likely to stick around. There is a lot of research to indicate that the value of the uncooked vegetable is even more powerful than its cooked counterpart. So here are some of the facts:
- Beetroot has the ability to improve oxygenation of the cells, boost red blood cell production & haemoglobin, prevent blood clots, strengthen the heart, reduce blood pressure, increase human memory, and reduce tiredness. Amazing! Beetroot is an essential vegetable for athletes as the nitrates open up the blood vessels, thereby increasing endurance levels.
- Carrots which are rich in B vitamins & Carotene, will improve the health of the skin and eyes, slow down aging, and greatly assist smokers whose nicotine intake consistently destroys the ability of their bodies to process Vitamin C, a critical antioxidant.
- Ginger has anti-fungal and anti-viral properties that will eliminate those cold and flu mirco-villains as they maraud around one’s body. It can also rekindle the flame in one’s love life, far more than any pokey rhino horn ever could.
- The lycopene in tomatoes will keep that prostate in tip-top shape doing, well, whatever the heck it is that a prostate does. And no man wants to be held ransom by his prostate.
- Did you know that some of the minerals such as magnesium, present in sweet potatoes, will increase relaxation? You can finally dispense with those Enya albums that you keep in your cubby hole for particularly taxing days at the grindstone!
- And that is not to mention that common to almost all veggies is their high antioxidant content – a barrage against the cancers that have crippled our generation. I too have lost close friends in this battle, and can only wish that we would all consider incorporating these powerful weapons in our daily diet.
I could rattle on for pages about the power packed in these little multi-coloured parcels of goodness, but that is not my goal. A fast and easy way to make the transition of veggie incorporation into your diet is to juice these little morsels. So, you would like to live longer, run faster, look better, age slower, remember more, forget less, defeat flu, fight cancer, breathe easier, and relax quicker? Then let “Yum, Yum, Yum!” be the adage that marks this transition as we strive to be the men that we were created to be – healthy, authoritive, inspired men.