What a shitload of veggies looks like

Author’s note: This article is on the benefit of eating vegetables but does not condone vegetarian or vegan eating. You must eat meat to live, grow, and thrive. This is not a choice, it is a biological reality.

By Justin Seltzer

I have been fielding a lot of questions from friends who have recently converted over to the Paleo lifestyle. Before I go any further, if you don’t do Paleo 1) you should, and 2) what I say here won’t help stave off the issues plaguing you and your poor-dieted compatriots. So, get on that. Anyway, among the many of questions these friends ask me, one that stuck out was “just how much plant matter am I supposed to eat?” Seems like a simple enough question, especially since Paleo breaks down into a few simple categories, and the simple answer to this question is “take the largest amount of veggies you could possibly imagine eating, then double it.” But, then I realized that while this is the simple answer, it is not one that is complete nor does it give a proper reference point. If someone’s entire veggie eating perspective is one carrot, doubling that into two carrots won’t make a lick of difference.

In this vein, the old food pyramid (recommended daily values) our government created long ago to shove 8-10 servings of body-destroying, tax-subsidized grains down our throats happens to give us a good starting point for veggie consumption. (Side note: Don’t look at the “new” food pyramid; it is actually worse than the previous one, if you can believe it). The old pyramid tells us 3-5 servings per day of veggies, at roughly ½ cup per serving. If you double this, you get roughly 3-5 cups of veggies per day. At this amount, given good variety, you should never be micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) deficient. Ever. And I don’t want to hear this “I hate veggies” bullshit. You’re an adult, start eating like one.

Reasons veggies are good for you:

§ Micronutrients: Source of all the vitamins and minerals you could ever want/need. There is not a single micronutrient available in fruit that is not available in veggies.

§ Dietary fiber: If you need an explanation as to why fiber is good for you, you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade.

§ Antioxidants: Not quite as high as fruit in this category, but still serious contenders (broccoli, carrots, lettuce especially)

§ Low glycemic carbs: Most veggies are low glycemic, meaning they don’t spike your insulin. If you’re curious, do a Google search for which ones are low glycemic.

§ Calories: Veggies have a very small calorie load by volume, which means you can eat the 3-5 cups without any concerns in this area. For example, 1 cup of broccoli (~.2lb) has about 30 calories. Mind you, if you’re training hard, calories should never really be a concern. You must feed your body.

Another important question they often ask is “what sort of veggies should I eat?” The answer to that question is “all of them.” But, this answer also has some caveats, which come in the form of things that people think are veggies but really aren’t. Eating veggies is not a carte blanche to go out and eat anything that comes from Mother Nature; grains and legumes are not veggies despite the fact that they come from the ground. I repeat: not veggies. Grains include wheat, barley, corn, rice, quinoa, and all those other hippy bullshit grains I see at Whole Foods when I walk past the “Grain Bar” to stock up on a half dozen of pounds of fresh meat products (vegetarians, sorry for being awesome). Legumes include beans, peas, and peanuts. (Not) sorry I just annihilated your thoughts about getting by on creamed corn (fatties) and edamame (hipsters). It isn’t that easy. But, neither is life, so sack up. My rule of thumb is this: if it is green, orange, red, pink, purple, or any shade of these colors (all good pigment colors for plants), it is not a fruit (fruit you actually can eat too much of), and it is edible, it’s probably good for you in whatever quantity your stomach can hold. Other exceptions include tubers (potatoes, etc.), which are not as nefarious as grains/legumes but still should not be eaten w/ at the level of consumption I advocate here.

The final question is, “how do I cook them?” and that answer is pretty simple too. If you can stomach it raw, eat it raw. However, most veggies taste like horse testicles when they’re raw, so I advocate light cooking with olive oil and your favorite spices (I go with a garlic powder and parsley mix but I’m no chef—get creative). If you can’t do without butter, throw in some pasture butter (it’s butter from grass fed cows) too. Boiling and steaming are also fine, but they tend to only dilute the horse testicle taste so I’d stick with the flavorful end. A staple meal for me is cooking up a bunch of different veggies, throw in a half pound of grass fed ground beef, and cutting up a whole avocado on top. Delicious.

So, moral of the story is stock up on veggies along side your hefty meat portions. Eat them often and in large quantities. And quit the grains and legumes. You’ll thank me for it later.

WOD 11-14-11:

4 rounds:

Row max meters in 3 minutes
-followed by 5 minutes to hit 2RM Back Squat

-when 5 minutes is up start your next round immediately
-weight is taken from rack

Take the amount of meters on your lowest score(least distance) of rowing and assign a point for each meter.
Take your highest Back squat 2rep and assign yourself 2 points for every pound.
Add these two scores together for total score.

CrossFit Mean Streets
Downtown Los Angeles


    • February 13, 2011

    Very nice article.

    • February 13, 2011

    Nice article, but I disagree with vegetables tasting like horse testicles. Sorry, they do not, at all taste alike.

    • February 13, 2011

    He actually meant that in a good way, as in, conveniently, vegetables are delicious, just like horse testicles.

    • February 13, 2011

    I figured he meant it in a good way. But I’ve eaten horse testicles before and I’ll take a bag of carrots any day before horse testicles again.

    • February 13, 2011

    Been pondering this for a while now.. great article..

    • February 13, 2011

    I wouldn’t know. I have never had the opportunity? to try horse testicles. But some how I don’t think the can compare to some yummy sauteed asparagus.

    • February 13, 2011

    If anyone has ever has had Rocky Mountain Oysters, yeah, it’s the same.
    Sarah Q is right. Asparagus is better.

Comments are now closed for this article.