Thursday, August 5, 2010

More Greens

I've been looking for ways to incorporate more fresh raw greens into my daily diet - in every meal possible.  This is one of the least-consumed food groups in the American diet, yet has some of the most benefits to offer us.  Among many things, greens offer some great beneficial enzymes that promote lung health - especially helpful for recovering smokers and people with asthma and allergies.

One way to sneak in more greens is by using greens as tortilla shells or wraps, another is by throwing as many as possible into your breakfast smoothie.  For lunches and dinners out in cafeteria-style settings, I've been encouraging people to make a nest with a big pile of raw spinach leaves (or any other dark leafy greens) and then top then with whatever other hot foods they want.  Really, raw spinach does not have much of a flavor, so if you think of it as an extension of your plate (or, perhaps an attractive edible 'charger plate') it really does not have to interfere with your other food choices, yet has the potential to add TONS of beneficial nutrients to your meals.

One way of doing this by layering your breakfast over the spinach (like boiled or poached eggs), and another way I've been trying this lately is by using whatever leftovers or fresh produce I happen to have in the refrigerator.  Most recently, that happened to be some zucchini, mushrooms and onions.  They'd been left over from a salad I'd made the night before (sometimes I don't combine the salad toppings in one large bowl with the greens, instead I dress the greens and then top them individually with various veggies, salad-bar-style for easier-to-use-leftovers later - also makes for a great way to personalize each salad when everyone can assemble their own...).

Since I was chilly from working at my desk under an enthusiastic air conditioning vent all morning, I wanted something warm, but I still wanted to keep the greens raw.

  • I sauteed the onion, mushrooms and zucchini in just a trace of olive oil, then added a touch of dry red wine and allowed them to simmer for just a few minutes before seasoning with sea salt and black pepper.
  • I piled some raw spinach leaves on my plate and then topped them with a huge serving of the lightly sauteed veggies.  As a 'side dish', I sliced up a raw red beet into 'carrot stick' sized slices to add some crunchy texture to my meal.
This can be done with any leftover vegetables, and even meat, hot or cold.  Experiment!  Try cold beans (rinsed and drained work best), cubed chicken, sliced steak, various squashes and root vegetables.  Top your creation with some toasted nuts or seeds, or some feta cheese.  Try some vegetables you would normally eat cooked, raw; or heated, cold.  Sometimes, we think we don't like a particular vegetable when really we just don't like the vegetable the way it's been prepared for us in the past (there is a HUGE difference between sweet potatoes prepared with marshmallows, pecans & maple syrup cooked into mush and crispy sweet potatoes roasted with olive oil and chili powder...).  Keep an open mind as you experiment to see how many ways you can get these greens into your meals.  I'd love to hear about your experiments!

If you would like to get your meals on-track, but are unsure where to begin, contact me today for a free "break-through" session where you can get a feel for my counseling style and have the opportunity to articulate your health goals.  After that, you may decide you would like to hire me as your own personal health coach.  One client recently lost 6 lbs in the 10 days between her break-through session and our first session together simply by following my advice on how to clean up her diet.  Contact me here to see how I can help you get on the right track today!

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