"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet"
Romeo and Juliet
Imagine you are at a restaurant and the server is telling you about the day’s specials. When he gets to the vegetable of the day he describes it as “delicious grilled asparagus drizzled with fresh lemon juice with a twist of ground sea salt.” Do your ears perk up and you decide you need to order that? What if he simply says asparagus? Or if he says healthy, fresh asparagus?
Believe it or not, research has been done on how descriptions of vegetable preparations can affect whether diners choose them. This fascinates me because once again it demonstrates how our brains can be fooled if something familiar is packaged differently. I have written before about how large food companies spend millions on research to determine how to package their products to convince the consumer they are making a smart choice. Empty claims such as all-natural, the color of the label (green signals healthy) and high-lighting one good-for-you ingredient such as whole wheat, are all tactics employed by corporations to sell packaged food. Our brains love adjectives (I wrote about that too)! It makes sense that the more indulgent a food sounds, the more tempted we are to eat it, and now the research shows this works for food that many people might not think of as a treat. Fancy sounding vegetables persuade people to choose to eat them. Lindsey Tanner wrote a great article about this topic that I enjoyed reading. I love that people will choose to eat better when chefs employ the same strategies corporations use to get us to choose unhealthy foods. Pass the roasted corn dusted with cumin please!
I will confess that no matter how you describe beets, I will not be enticed to eat them!
This week’s recipe uses a vegetable in an unconventional way which may tempt you to eat a generous helping of carrots. I received a recipe for Carrot Dogs in my email last week from epicurious. I posted a similar recipe two years ago in one of my favorite blogs about Vanity Sizing. I decided to post this one as well because it can be prepared in less than an hour, as compared to the original which needs a full day to marinate. I know many people are concerned about protein and carrots are not a major source (less than a gram per serving), so I encourage you to rethink the idea of having protein be the main focus of your meal. In this dinner, I made a side of veggie slaw and added a can of beans for protein. I used a Trader Joe’s mix that included radishes, broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, cabbage and celery. I mixed up a dressing with 1/2 teaspoon honey, juice of one lime, 1/3 cup mayo and salt and pepper, and tossed it with the veggie mix and one can of white beans. You could also serve a tossed salad topped with chick peas or a hard boiled egg. A small handful of nuts added to any salad is also a great way to add some protein.
Grilled Carrot Dogs
8 hot dog sized carrots
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons amino acids (or soy sauce or tamari)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce from a can of chipotle (or favorite hot sauce)
Whole wheat hot dog buns