Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Hi, my name is Becky and I have an obsession. With vegetables. This can be really upsetting to my social life, as in past cases like “That Time Becky Ordered Broccoli On Pizza At A Company Lunch,” or “That Time I Spilled Green Smoothie In My Car.”

It started when I was in utero, really (my mom notoriously craved unripe peaches during her pregnancies with her four totallynormalcoughcough kids), was nurtured in the garden of tomatoes and okra that I grew as a child, and has absolutely exploded during my pregnancies with my own kids.

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Do you see the shame on this child’s face for having just eaten raw okra straight off the plant? Didn’t even wash it. The nerve…

I’ve often mused about poor little Russ, who never got a lot of the standard ice cream (he got more than his fair share of pickles), cake, and other pregnancy cravings. In fact, I’m fairly certain his entire left leg is made of romaine lettuce and tomatoes, and easily pounds upon pounds of basil. So. Much. Basil. To the point that, with contractions 5 minutes apart, we stopped for pizza with extra basil on the way to the hospital the night of September 14th, 2010. An aside: Pizza as your last meal before having a baby? Not a fabulous idea. Please don’t do that to yourself.

With Henry in 2014, it was much the same. With Odin…no real change. Maybe if I’d had girls, it would’ve been a different craving, but my boys just seem to love kale, brussels sprouts, and all manner of cruciferous delight.

Most people are familiar with the hair part of the Grimms Brothers’ fairytale “Rapunzel,” but that’s missing the point. The point is really that the whole reason the long-locked girl gets that crazy name is because of her mom’s crazy cravings when she is pregnant with her – for a specific herbaceous alpine vegetable known as “rapunzel.” It’s technically campanula rapunculus and certainly doesn’t look so yummy, but ya know…tomato/Solanum lycopersicum, potato/Solanum tuberosum. I figure if the Bros G themselves knew enough about pregnancy cravings to include this detail, then it must be fair to assume that any physiological need or shortfall could result in a craving like that. 

So this is that blog that includes a healthy recipe. Yes, I know…given the last few posts, you may have been led to believe that my name is Betty (not Becky) and all I do is bake cakes. Untruths! Though Betty was allegedly on the short list of names my parents pondered (alongside Courtney), most of what I make has some sort of effort towards wholesomeness and nutrition factored in. I also really don’t like going over budget on grocery shopping. So this makes me obsessive about using all the leftovers I possibly can – which is where this “veggie taco salad” comes from.

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This is what happens when you don’t want to spend money, have about 3/4 c. of leftover ground beef with taco seasonings already in it, just bought a TON of leafy greens at the store over the last 2-3 days, and can audibly hear your own stomach growling.

I don’t have a catchy name for it, nor do I have a real “recipe,” but suffice to say it is a pile of slightly sauteed curly kale and shredded brussels sprouts (seasoned with salt and pepper, paprika, and garlic) used as a landing pad for all things yummy and taco-esque. It was really scraped together in a hurry, believe me, because it was either this or the dreaded hot dogs my son eats for lunch (yes, I’m that mom, nice to meet you). The toppings included:

  • Chopped green onion
  • My favoritestever Rick Bayless Frontera Roasted Tomato Salsa (which you can buy at Publix and it kicks the a$$ of every other storebought salsa on the planet)
  • Seasoned taco meat (I used 85/15 that’s on sale for $2.99/lb at The Fresh Market every Tuesday, because I’d rather pay less and skim the fat myself. It was cooked and drained, then seasoned with cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder).
  • Diced avocado. Because I’d rather have avocado than cheese any day of the week.
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sour cream…mmmmm….
  • Lime Juice & Cilantro

I could’ve kept going with the toppings bonanza, but my stomach was actually starting to eat itself and Baby Odin doesn’t like that, so I stopped there. Volume eating (i.e. pounding mass quantities of low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods like a mutha-huggin’ boss) is definitely my new hobby.

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So my point in all this, for anyone wanting or needing to up their produce intake is this: Buy the stuff and, if you need to do so, prep it! Then get creative. Yes, you will have some duds. You will have a few meals you’ll sit down to where you’re like “What the eff did I just make?” But thanks to Pinterest and all that, you can usually find a great way to incorporate more veggies into your life and calorie count. Not only will your pants size appreciate this, but you might just feel better and look better, too. Well, unless it’s a pregnancy craving, in which case…good luck.

And when you find yourself standing there in front of a new type of fruit or vegetable, curiously contemplating if there’s even a way to prepare that (this is how I feel about kohlrabi basically every time I see it), just think of me and my mom. It’s 1990. In the Piggly Wiggly on 4th Avenue in Conway, South Carolina. And this is the conversation in which my six year old self begs my overworked and exhausted mother to buy me an ARTICHOKE. Just an artichoke. Just so I can try it. My mom, ever the green-peach-craving phenom, managed to make that impulse-purchase artichoke seem like the coolest, most adventurous food ever. You can probably create something pretty awesome, too.

Until the next kitchen escapade,

I'm kind of failing at this whole blog thing: an update.

 

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