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One of the biggest pitfalls of the typical Western diet is the fact that it lacks the amount and variety of plant-based foods that human beings need to protect their long-term health and maintain a healthy weight. The average American consumes less than 2 cups of fruits and vegetables every day – less than half of the recommended daily intake. So, for the majority of people who wish to improve their diets, one of the most powerful things they can do is to increase their daily consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. But it’s also important that these foods are prepared in a way that supports our health and that’s where knowing how to cook tasty vegetable-rich dishes can be such a powerful health-promotion skill.
One of the best ways to start any cooked vegetable dish (or any savory dish for that matter) is to chop and sautee onions in a small amount of olive oil and, if you like the flavor, you can add a little bit of garlic as well.
Michael Pollan: You must have onions and garlic. Those are essential. I mean, onions are the basis of so many dishes. And in fact, I think one of the great impediments to cooking is people’s dislike of chopping an onion. And you just have to get over that.
Sauteed onions are the first step to an amazing number of meals. From this flavor-rich starting point, you can add chopped veggies like zucchini or spinach with a bit of salt and pepper to make a delicious veggie breakfast omelet. You can make a simple tomato sauce by adding chopped or blended tomatoes and a touch of salt. And you can make a colorful vegetable stir-fry with almost any vegetable you happen to have in the fridge… just chop them up, then flavor with some soy sauce, plum sauce or any sauces you happen to like. There are some safety precautions involved – like keeping your fingers away from the blade of the knife and stabilizing vegetables by placing them flat-surface-down while chopping. But in reality, the health risks associated with vegetable chopping are probably far less serious than the health risks associated with not eating them.
Michael Pollan: and you don’t have to eat organic to eat well. The first decision is to eat those fruits and vegetables. And if you can afford organic, great. Some organic foods taste better. They all have less pesticide and that’s important. But, it’s less important than the fact you’re eating fruits and vegetables. Better to eat pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables than none at all.
Course by Maya Adam, MD
Directed by William Bottini
Editing by William Bottini & Tamsin Orion
Special thanks to Michael Pollan, Tracy Rydel, and David Eisenberg