We don’t know the whole story about food yet. For example, there are hundreds of carotenoids found in colored vegetables and fruits such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and blueberries. All could and probably are helpful to our immune system. Beta-carotene, the only carotenoid that has been studied closely, is definitely an immune booster.
The Japanese government does not have a food pyramid. However, they suggest that people eat at least 30 different food stuffs per day to obtain diet variety. Their predominantly vegetarian diet with its incredible variety of foods produces a nation of people with the longest life expectancy in the world. Yet when the Japanese immigrate to the US and take up our ways, this is no longer true.
Adopt the Japanese way for one meal per day. Try vegetable stew, pasta, stir-fry, pizza, sandwich spread, or salad with small amounts of many foodstuffs. Look at the list below and try to eat 25 to 30 different foodstuffs in one meal per day.
6. Miscellaneous– seaweed, different varieties of mushrooms.
Top your stew and salads with bites of avocado instead of cheese; top your vegetable pasta with raw cucumbers and zucchini, plus seeds and nuts for crunch.
Many of the above would make an excellent vegetarian pizza, too. Cut the cheese entirely by sautéing some of the vegetables (mushrooms, peppers, onions) in a small amount of olive oil first. This will add the moisture and creaminess you want without adding animal fat from cheese. Sprinkle on "vegan" Parmesan if you wish.
If chunks of vegetables on a salad or pizza bother you, grate as many vegetables as possible. Don’t use iceberg lettuce; go for the deeply colored varieties.
In fact, remember to go for the color in vegetables. As a general rule, the deeper the color, the higher the nutrients.
Still can’t get that much variety down your throat or past the lips of your kids?
Head straight to the blender. Put anything through the blender that needs "disguising" to be edible.
Put cooked vegetables in the blender, then add them back to pasta sauce. Pasta sauce does not have to be red, but tomatoes hide some of the green and brown food "tidbits" from the blender.
Do the same to make vegetarian chili with tofu crumbles (frozen at the supermarket) and beans.
Use blended vegetables to make the liquid for a stew, then add the foodstuffs your children (spouse, you) will eat. Maybe you will only have carrots, potatoes, onions, rice, pasta, and peppers "showing." The rest of your nutrients will be in the "gravy" or sauce.
Put a few "hidden" vegetables and soy sauce through the blender to use as the "soy" in your stir-fry.
Heat or cook, then season, this enhanced soy sauce to eat over rice, couscous, or noodles.
Both raw and cooked vegetables, blended with a small amount of oil or avocado, make a delicious salad dressing or sauce for rice or pasta. Also makes a good dip with raw veggies.
Use a combination of cooked vegetables (mashed or thru the blender) with mashed, firm (not silken) tofu. Add cooked brown rice, cooked couscous, grated or blender disguised raw vegetables, mustard, and canola oil for a sandwich spread on 100% whole wheat bread. Add a tomato slice, cucumber slices, and lettuce for even more variety.
Now you have eaten one healthy meal per day. Anyone want to try for two per day?