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According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans are taking their veggies with a hefty side of sodium and fat–and that’s not good.  Vegetables are supposed to be good for you, right?  So, taking the planet’s healthiest foods and heaping so much salt and fat on them that you negate their nutritional value is a little like taking a group of naturally beautiful people and piling so much make-up and hair dye on them that they look like cartoon vampires.  What’s the point?  Maybe things are at their best just they way start out?

That’s definitely true with fruits and vegetables, but somewhere along the way, we zig when we should’ve zagged on the veggie trail, and we end up with foods that miss the nutritional mark.  Example: The most popular way to eat potatoes in the U.S.?  French fries.  So, we take a great source of fiber and potassium, fry it in oil, and then douse it with salt.  Ouch.  We’re starting to think that French fries are just humiliated potatoes because as a whole and on their own, potatoes are a healthy food.  Besides French fries, baked potatoes and potato chips are right up there at the top of the list of potato faves.   The problem here (besides the frying and salt–again–and the mounds of butter, cheese and sour cream we pile on) is that usually with both of these sides, we don’t eat the skin, which is a great source of fiber.  Nutritional fail.

Another American veggie fave?  Tomatoes!  Great, right? Tomatoes are rich in beta carotene and lycopene, both powerful antioxidants, as well as vitamins A and C.  Tomatoes are heart-healthy and have been shown to lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.  A cup of raw tomatoes, all by themselves, have about 9 milligrams of sodium, but crack open a can of tomato sauce and you’re looking at 1,000 milligrams of salt per cup, according to the USDA (and we haven’t even mentioned the sugar).  Unfortunately, most Americans are getting their tomatoes out of a can and under a layer of cheese and pepperoni (insert monkey-with-hands-over-his-eyes emoji here) on pizza.  More than half of Americans’ vegetable intake comes from potato and tomato consumption–and this is the way we’re eating them.  Only ten percent of our veggie consumption comes from dark green and orange veggies like spinach, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Researchers with the USDA decided to take a closer look at veggie consumption a few years ago when they found that higher fruit consumption correlated with lower body mass index, but eating vegetables didn’t.  Strange, right?  The tomato/potato phenomenon we’ve discussed here is the result of looking further into this problem.  But why are veggies being left in the dust or fried into oblivion?  Generally, people consume a whole fruit.  It’s more portable and convenient to eat just the way it is, but sometimes veggies take a bit more work.  You have to peel, cut and cook them.  And let’s face it–people are busy.  They grab some fruit, but veggies fall by the wayside, unless they’re convenient and fast.  At Brown Bag, we think they’re worth the work.  What else can compare to a fresh spinach salad with seasonal fruits, maybe some almonds or walnuts, and a light vinaigrette?  The crunch of fresh lettuce on a sandwich, the tang of a summer tomato, a bowl of pasta with tomatoes, peppers, basil and fresh pesto–French fries can’t even compare!  If you’re looking to expand your vegetable palette and give your body all the best they have to offer sans loads of fat and sodium, come see us!  We’ll take the time to peel, cut and cook for you! Healthy tastes better–trust us–and we’ve got a whole menu full of healthy to make your mouth happy.