Day 2 Dip it, Dunk It


I didn’t want to make dinner tonight. I didn’t want to stir anything on a stove. So I cut up a bunch of jicama slices and ate them with hummus. Super quick, easy, yummy, and healthful. The thing about eating more fruits and vegetables is that it really doesn’t have to take long. In fact, it’s often super quick and easy.

Day 2 of 30 Days of Produce is devoted to the wonderful ways we can dunk and dip our veggies. 

While corn chips and potato chips are incredibly yummy, they also are incredibly oily, which means sometimes they make me feel sick. Instead of chips, dip your veggies. (By the way, those veggie chips you buy at the grocery store? No, they do not count as vegetables.)

There are lots of online recipes for turning veggies into chips. You can fry them up: http://leitesculinaria.com/90345/recipes-homemade-vegetable-chips.html

You can bake them: http://www.rachaelraymag.com/recipe/baked-veggie-chips/

Baking is less time-intensive and less messy than frying. Just slice them up thinly, slather some olive oil on top, throw them in the oven. 

But each of these require oven or stove time, which is hot, and it’s June, and it’s hot. 

In addition, making veggie chips requires using oil that’s been heated. Heated oils are less aromatic and tasty than unheated, according to this New York Times article. Also, the thing that makes olive oil good for us, polyphenols, is reduced with heating. 

You want to get the best benefits of oil -- and really enjoy it? Dip fresh, raw veggies in some super yummy olive oil. Get another slice, dip again. Keep dunking. Keep dipping.

You can add your own herbs and spices to a good olive oil. Go to Santa Fe Olive Oil Company (in Nob Hill in ABQ and on Don Gaspar in Santa Fe, or online). I was amazed at how good olive oil could taste. I add a small amount on top of a stir fry, and it adds a whole lot of flavor. My husband fell in love with their balsamic vinegar, and it has motivated him to eat more salad and vegetables. 

Slice up jicama, kohlrabi, carrots, sweet turnips or radishes. Grab sweet peas or sugar snap peas. So far, by the way, I’ve found jicama only at Whole Foods in Albuquerque. Kohlrabi is at the Farmer’s Market, along with sweet radish, purple daikon, and salad turnips, all marvelous for dunking. I’ve found kohlrabi at La Montanita Co-op, too.

If you’re going to use broccoli, you might enjoy it better if you blanch it first. Bring some water to boil. Put the broccoli in a strainer, and pour the boiling water over the broccoli. This should make it a little brighter, which is fun, and easier to digest. Usually we blanch by putting the broccoli in the boiling water for a few minutes and then moving them to an ice bath. My method is quicker, though the vegetables will be less cooked. You also can steam the broccoli for a few minutes or any of the other green vegetables you may wish to use for dipping. 

Once you have your veggies, dip into the guacamole and salsa. Dip into hummus. At La Montanita Co-op, they have red chile hummus, green chile hummus, spinach and artichoke hummus, plus plain hummus and baba ganoush. I have a fondness for the Tahini Dip from Trader Joe’s. It’s pretty salty, which means I’m less likely to miss the chips and more likely to choose veggies + dip as a snack. 

Turnips and radish, by the way, are considered to be helpful in dissolving fats, which makes them a double plus good switch from corn or potato chips. Since the dips are fat and oil intensive (the good kind), we don’t need more oils and fats from the chips. 

The more delicious the dip you buy or make, the more likely it will taste better with real food, with sliced vegetables, instead of with something that’s been processed and then stored in a bag. It can take a little while to get used to this as a new habit and to let go of the super oily and super salty chips. 

You can dehydrate veggies to make chips, too, and that way you’ll get all the fiber and minerals.  This works fine in an oven or use a dehydrator. Dehydrated veggie chips give us the dry, crunchy texture we crave. Beware, however, of dehydrated veggie chips you might buy in the store. They often are made with lots of nuts, which make them less easy to digest as well as higher in calorie. 

Part of the fun of using raw vegetables is that they’re inherently hydrating, which is especially welcome in the hot months. The fiber and the water content help us feel full and satisfied. While it’s hot, keep it easy, keep it quick, and eat ‘em raw.