We’re heading into the final week of this round of Ready-Set-Go! A Jump Start To Healthy Eating (click here to learn more about it). Participants are actively changing their eating habits and reaping the rewards. One of the techniques I recommend is making Fundamental Foods – batches of basic ingredients that can be mixed and matched to make meals quick & easy.
Green leafy vegetables are nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamins like A & C, minerals like calcium and iron, and fiber. The darker they are, the better they are: all that rich color indicates loads of healthy goodness for you.
Everyone’s eaten spinach at one time or another, so let’s branch out and try something new:
- collard greens
- dandelion greens
Throw the more delicate leaves like watercress in your salad. Saute the heartier greens like kale or chard in some olive oil with garlic, salt & pepper. Make a big batch to eat throughout the week; you can even enjoy them cold, tucked into a whole-wheat wrap.
Beans are my favorite source of protein. They don’t have the saturated fat found in most meats, they’re high in fiber, vitamins & minerals. Plus they’re cheap.
In addition to cooking up a big batch of greens for the week, I like to make a pot of beans. Sure, you can rely on canned beans (I often do), as long as you rinse them very well to flush out the sodium. I found good quality dried beans come in a wonderful array of flavors and textures; they’re worth the little extra work. In the past, I’ve splurged on dried beans from my local Italian market and also from Republic of Beans – truly a bean revelation!
Try any of the following:
- white beans
- black beans
- red beans
They couldn’t be simpler to prepare. Soak them overnight in a stockpot with plenty of cold water, then drain. To cook, Republic of Beans recommends adding a gallon of fresh water, a couple of sprigs each sage & rosemary, a head of garlic (don’t bother peeling), a carrot, a celery stalk and a quartered onion. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer and cook until they’re just tender. Use them in a variety of ways: drizzle with olive oil for a side dish, throw into a soup. saute up with those yummy greens we talked about earlier.
Grains are another staple in our house. I rely on hearty whole grains like brown rice, millet, quinoa, farro, and oats for any meal of the day. They’re each simple to prepare, requiring nothing but water and an hour or (much) less on the stovetop. Check the package for cooking directions.
While you’re at it, try a new grain this week. How about quinoa? It’s as simple as couscous to prepare, but is really high in protein. Lots of bang for your nutritional buck.
Take the time this week to make your own greens, beans & grains. You’ll be healthier and your tummy will be happier.