“Veggie Fests” Are My Favorite Way to Eat Healthy

This spread is surprisingly fun to make — and eat! Here's how my family does it.

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Chopped vegetables in colorful bowls on white background

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Chopped vegetables in colorful bowls on white background

Photo by: Claudia Totir/Getty Images

Claudia Totir/Getty Images

Some families have sacred burger nights, others might do pizza. But mine? Mine did veggie fests.

Around 3 p.m. on weekends, my dad would announce that it was "veggie fest time!!!" and my sisters and I would race to the kitchen and spend a half an hour or so thinly slicing up vegetables, fanning them out on plates or a giant cutting board in shingled, snaking patterns. That was the veggie fest: a beautiful arrangement of sliced veggies (ready to eat veggies, that is, like avocados and bell peppers and cucumbers) punctured with lettuces, bowls of condiments and spreads, pickled and olive things, cheeses, sliced bread and cold cuts. You’d toast your bread, then move down the counter, constructing towering open-faced sandwiches. Minimal bread, maximum veg.

One might also call the veggie fest a giant, DIY sandwich bar. Or a vegetable board. Whatever the case, I find that I eat with my eyes first. If my daily dose of veggies looks like a gorgeous snack station, I’m going to want to gobble it up. If it looks like a salad? Not so much.

Raw vegetables and assorted dips

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Raw vegetables and assorted dips

Photo by: Landler/Keppler/Getty Images

Landler/Keppler/Getty Images

To this day, I still assemble veggie fests on the weekend. If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are the building blocks to get you started:

  1. Vegetables: Thinly sliced cucumber, bell pepper, avocado, tomato and red onion. Pre-shredded carrots. Very finely chopped raw broccoli.
  2. Leafy greens: Your favorite lettuces, tender herbs, sprouts and microgreens.
  3. Condiments: Mayo, mustard, hummus, pesto, chutney and chili crisp.
  4. Pickled things: Olives, capers, cornichon and any sort of pickle.
  5. Cheeses: Opt for high-quality blocks of cheese, then slice them (instead of deli sliced or shredded).
  6. Bread: Sliced seedy bread, baguettes, rolls or wraps.
  7. Cold cuts: You name it.

Now all you need to do is set aside 30 minutes, put on your favorite podcast, and get to slicing and arranging. Soon, you’ll realize that process of the veggie fest is relaxing. It’s methodical and predictable, like filling in the page of a coloring book with a rainbow of markers.

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