Update Your Plate, Part 9: The Veggie Stagnation Edition

This post is a continuation of the Update Your Plate series, where I demonstrate how to use MyPlate to plan your meals. Read the story behind Update Your Plate here.

The hyper-observant may remember a passing reference in this post to a series of morning radio segments I’ve been doing. If so, wow. I’m impressed. You pay attention.


During one of my recent segments, I mentioned a concept called vegetable stagnation. No, this term isn’t one you’ll find in a nutrition textbook – I made it up. Veggie stagnation refers to the process of buying the same vegetables over and over, preparing them in the same way each week, and then wondering why veggies are so boring. We experiment with ways to eat funky grains and tempeh and Kobe beef, yet we don’t have the same curiosity about vegetables.

That’s why it’s time for


Let’s take a gander at MyPlate and why it’s so awesome.


The idea behind MyPlate is by filling your plate with foods in the proportions suggested, you’ll eat plenty of nutrient-packed fruits and veggies and a moderate amount of protein and grain-based carbohydrate.

Note I’ve grouped together fruits and vegetables because we tend to eat either one or the other at meals (e.g. fruit at breakfast, veggies at dinner).

Let’s take a look at our plate.


Not bad!  When I plated this meal, I wasn’t thinking about MyPlate, yet I automatically laid out the foods in the appropriate pattern. The mind of a dietitian, folks.

(Really, I’m surprised I don’t dream about little MyPlates.)

Let’s lay the MyPlate template over our meal (and for those of you wondering, yes, that is the spiced chickpea and orzo salad I posted earlier. There’s enough orzo in there to count as a grain, even though it also contains cauliflower & carrots. Think of those as bonus veggies. The recipe for the extra-special protein part is coming up soon.)

(Incidentally, whenever I hear the word stagnation, I immediately think of Mallock the knacker in the James Herriot stories proclaiming, “stagnation of t’lungs!” (which is a concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The more you know.))

(I am now on unnecessary parenthetical statement number five. Back to MyPlate.)


There it is: veggie stagnation. When vegetables are an afterthought, they tend to be bland, or overcooked, or either carrots, broccoli, or lettuce (which, incidentally, is often what kids go for, too. Interesting.)  A pile of green lettuce with perhaps a drizzle of the same dressing that’s been in the fridge since the last ice age does not inspire love of nutrient-packed veggies. How can I make this meal more interesting?

If I were to plead a do-over, I might try something else completely: a wilted salad with feta and capers, green beans sauteed with black mustard seed, roasted peppers and tomatoes over spaghetti squash. Possibilities? Endless.

As I’ve already plated the most boring salad in existence, we’ll have a job working with what we’ve got. So I tossed on some toasted almonds, sliced homegrown tomato, and homemade blue cheese dressing (recipe forthcoming).



This salad was so delicious, I ate it first. And that’s a victory in MyPlate book.

You, too, can be a Salad/Veggie Master! My mission for you this week: At the grocery store, choose one new vegetable you’ve never tried before or haven’t had in a while and make it exciting. Search online for recipes, or check out the recipe database on this website for veggie-prep suggestions. And feel free to email me if you need a jump-start. I would be honored to be a part of your veggie explorations 🙂

Enjoy your weekend!

Q: What’s your favorite veggie? What’s a veggie you want to try?

P.S. If you’re more the cookbook type, check out James Peterson’s Vegetables for a comprehensive veggie preparation guide. I reach for it whenever I suffer from veggie stagnation and it’s never failed me yet.

Previous Update Your Plates:
Tuna Salad on Toast
Pumped-Up Tofu Salad
Spinach and Egg Breakfast Extravaganza
The One Where I Lay a Smoothie on a Plate
The Sorta Combination Plate
The Pizza Edition
The Actual Combination Plate
Tortillas & Wraps


  1. I couldn’t agree more with this post, love it! I would say majority of the grocery stores now are pre-packaged foods with different twists on every product possible but vegetables never change, so it’s up to us to create something interesting with them, and like you said, the possiibilies are endless, it just takes a little effort 🙂

  2. So many good points! I could definitely be more imaginative when it comes to veggie preparation, but I too get lazy with my little plate sometimes 😉

    Lately I’ve really been enjoying mushrooms and spinach. Sweet potatoes and cabbage are always favorites…but in general I like all veggies except for cauliflower and brussel sprouts.

    I love fancy salads but usually I make the same type of thing again and again, just like you said :-O

    Have an awesome weekend, Jessie! It looks like you’re having fun on the radio 😀

  3. I think I’m pretty good at avoiding the veggie stagnation trap because I’m always trying new recipes for vegetables (and trying to avoid all the ones that basically just coat everything in cheese…okay, maybe not avoiding them all the time).
    I usually only revert to “boring” veggie sides when I run out of ideas.

  4. I eat broccoli almost every single day. Definite veggie stagnation. I’m going to take on your challenge this week though! Excited to see what I discover!

  5. Hmm salad on Tuesday this week I had romaine bed with fresh homegrown tinytim tomatoes, some English cucumber and carrots with balsamic vinaigrette served with slower cooker balsmic glazed chicken (oops forgot my grain!)

    Also like to eat vegetable curry so delicious can add almost any veggie to it!

    I haven’t eaten cabbage or turnip lately my they should be a different veggie!

    1. Mmm, vegetable curry! It sounds like you’ve been having some delicious veggies lately!

      1. I definitely have been veggies are so delicious by themselves or made in a dish!

  6. I don’t think we have the problem of veggie stagnation around here, but growing up that was a HUGE problem! It definitely made eating veggies much less enticing to have the same salad every day.

    1. I know you definitely have no problem with veggie stagnation! 🙂

  7. There are so many kinds of veggies out there I love, for example this year (2013) during travels:

    USA: Tuscan Kale & Pink Oyster Mushrooms & Shishito Peppers
    Colombia: Yucca & Arracacha & Giant Avocado (these are three times bigger than the regular avocados)
    Spain: Italian Sweet Pepper & Celeraic
    Buenos Aires: Black Potatoes

  8. For a while, the kid only wanted to eat broccoli, avocados, cucumbers, and zucchini. It was tough to expand his horizon even though we were eating lots of different veggies all the time. Luckily, he is much more open to different veggies now. Some of his recent favorites are asparagus, spaghetti squash, and sauteed onions.

    I used to get a CSA veggie box, and I really liked being surprised with different seasonal veggies. It definitely made me eat veggies I wouldn’t normal buy and eat.

    My favorite veggie? That’s tough. Right now probably spaghetti squash and beets.

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