friend once told a story about his father and vegetables:

His father did not like vegetables, but when the children came along his wife told him he had to eat them because the children would follow his example if he didnít, with disastrous results for their growth and health.  Having a great love for his children he consented, and all the years the children were home he dutifully ate his vegetables.  When the last child left the nest he smugly announced he was done with vegetables; he had done his duty, he would not eat another vegetable as long as he lived!

Several years went by and my friend went home to the family farm to visit his parents.  When he arrived, his mother told him his father was out in the barn feeding the cows, so he hurried out to help.  When he arrived at the barn what he saw broke his heart.  His father was a farmer and had always been a strong man.  Now he was so emaciated that he could not even lift a bale of hay, he was trying, with difficulty, to pull the bails across the floor by attaching a piece of bailing twine to them.

His father ended up in the hospital, extremely sick from malnutrition.  He needed his vegetables, without them his body could not function!

Vegetables are packed full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and oils without which our bodies cannot maintain vibrant health.  Some of the nutrients, like various vitamins, are essential for life itself!  Vitamins and phytochemicals are chemical agents that the plant produces that are essential to our nutrition, and minerals are taken by the plant from the ground the plants are grown in.  Just like a car needs hundreds of parts and chemicals made from various different materials, so our bodies need various materials to build and repair on every level.  The only place to get these materials is from our diet.

While the fats derived from animal sources tends to be bad for our overall health, oils from vegetable sources are packed with good stuff that our bodies need to be at their best!  I don't know if you'd consider olives a fruit or vegetable, but extra virgin olive oil is one of the best. Since fats have twice as many calories per gram as carbohydrate or protein, no matter how good they may be they need to be used in moderation.  One of the benefits of using whole foods is that they are a package, and we get some of the various nutrients in the foods without large amounts of any one kind in exclusion of the other needed nutrients.

There are many ways to prepare vegetables, from steaming to baking, frying to roasting, and eating them raw, as in a salad.  The trick is to find ways to keep them in your diet, and for the child who may not like vegetables, hiding them in various dishes works well.  We have a daughter who never liked onions, so my wife just blended the onions up and then added them to dishes.  It wasnít the flavour she didnít like, it was the texture.  I have never liked the texture of cooked squash, but making the squash into a pie (like pumpkin pie) is all it takes to make it civilized! My wife used dates and soy milk to make the squash filling and a whole meal crust made with nuts and seeds.  The result is a very good tasting sweet treat that is good for you--if you don't eat too much at one time.  Donít throw the vegetables out because the traditional way of fixing them may not be to your liking, try different ways and combinations to make them enjoyable.  One way my wife uses cabbage is preparing a filling that is largely cabbage with seasonings, rice, and sauce made with cashews, then baking it inside small pieces of rolled out bread dough.  These small stuffed breads are delicious, and people donít even know they are eating cabbage.  I like to take them when we are travelling because they are good cold and easy to eat on the run.  You get a nutritious, balanced meal all in one neat little package.

Something that has been discovered in recent years is that fruits and vegetables have agents in them known as phytochemicals.  These are strong anti oxidants, which fight cancer and other health threats. Other of these help the body starve out cancer.  More than 900 different phytochemcials have been discovered, and more are being identified all the time.  This is one big reason that it is important to eat as many unrefined foods as possible.  While we may take supplements, the supplements are only a few of the things our bodies need to be healthy.  Also, the things that havenít been identified yet can not be supplemented!  There is no substitute for food grown in healthy soil, as fresh as possible!

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