Today I’m starting a new series on Real Food Wednesdays: Simple Real Food Goals. Real food (and eating better) has come up in a number of conversations lately, and the biggest obstacles that people express are either that they don’t know how or it seems too difficult. So, for my next few real food posts, I’m going to talk about simple (and easy) ways that you can add more real food to your diet and eat better.
Goal number one? Eat more greens.
We all know we should do it. Green veggies (especially leaf vegetables) are a great resource for iron, calcium, vitamin C, carotenoids (which help reduce the risk of cancer), folic acid, Vitamin K, and other vitamins and minerals. You can almost always find them in local farmer’s markets, though the varieties will change with the season. They come straight out of the ground (well, unless they’re hydroponic) and don’t typically undergo any processing. Here are a few easy ways to add them in to your meals:
Keep Your Fridge Stocked
One of the hardest things about eating greens consistently is that it sometimes feels like it “takes too much effort” to wash, dry, and prepare the leaves each time you want to use them. They also have a tendency to wilt more quickly than hardier vegetables, so if you forget about them in your fridge, you’ll often find forlorn looking leaves. I came across this tip for keeping greens fresh (and easy to access) while reading Jamie Oliver’s “Cook With Jamie.”
First, buy a few different kinds of greens: butter leaf lettuce, Romaine, and spinach are all good first picks. Fill your clean sink (or a small dish tub) with water, and submerge the leaves, giving them a good swishing to make sure they’re clean. Then, spin them in your salad spinner (or dry with a dishtowel). Pull out one of your vegetable drawers from the fridge, line it with a clean dishtowel or two, and place the clean greens inside.
Now you have an entire drawer of ready-to-use greens at your disposal, which means that before your next meal, you can easily grab a handful or two, throw on some other chopped veggies and a bit of dressing, and you’re good to go!
Green smoothies are super easy to make–my favorite recipe is from Sara at Walk Slowly, Live Wildly: blend two frozen bananas, pineapple chunks, a handful of frozen fruit, 1 cup of water, and a dash of honey together, then add a handful of greens (and now you can pull them out of your oh-so-convenient green fridge drawer). Blend well, and you’ve got two tall glasses of a tasty smoothie treat that also includes a serving of greens. I know the green color is a little crazy, but I promise it’s delicious (and if it weren’t for the color, you’d have no idea there were any greens in it)!
Throw Them in a Hot Skillet
Greens taste delicious when sauteed with a little butter and garlic, and they’re a quick vegetable side for dinner. After you’re done cooking a meal, add a bit of butter to your still-hot skillet and toss in a few handfuls of greens. Stir them around and cook until they’ve wilted nicely, but still have a nice deep green color.
You can also add them to any egg dish–they add a nice note of flavor to omelettes and scrambled eggs. Just put your greens in the skillet first, cook them down a bit, and add your eggs.
Once you have fresh greens on hand, it’s easy to add a salad to your meal, or toss them in to a variety of dishes. Just a few extra servings of greens goes a long way towards eating more real food and giving your body more of the nutrients it needs.