Get your greens

If there's one thing I've learned since I got married (coming up on 10 years ago!), it's this:

Get your greens.

I know, not what you were expecting (unless, of course, you read the title).

But you see, when I got married, I didn't know how to cook. Well, that's not even fair to say, I suppose. I didn't know to cook. My life pretty much revolved around Diet Cokes, Taco Bell and Denny's, with a little convenience-store shopping, Blockbuster checkout-stopping and the occasional Burger King thrown in for good measure: Yes, the typical life of a college student. (Add lots and lots of beer and hard alcohol and you pretty much have an idea of my weekly diet.)

So when I got married and realized that Wow, he is a typical Guys guy and expects me to do E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G in the home, the first thing I learned how to do was make a latte. (No, seriously. The first time I tried to make his cafe con leche, I served him a couple sips of coffee with a whole lotta cold milk poured over the top. Yes. Cold.) After that I mastered an imitation cafeteria stir fry (this was before I learned I'm allergic to soy! eek!), moved on to Scandinavian cinnamon rolls which were just a BIG ole pain in the you know what and, eventually, I learned how to make rice salad and pasta.

Suffice it to say, we ate a lot of sandwiches. And canned tuna.

But as you know if you're a follower who migrated over from my old site (thanks!), eventually I earned the coveted role of Chef Wifey. On the menu tonight happens to be butternut squash pasta; last night I made homemade vegetable soup and tomorrow we'll be having slow-cooker beef stew. It doesn't get any better than that.

Er, well, yes, of course it does. This is supposed to be a post on getting your greens, you see, which I haven't been getting enough of.

So if you are one of my long-time followers, you know that I pretty much tried every diet and meal plan under the sun way back when (hmmm, this was also right around the time I got married...hmmmm....). I tried South Beach. I tried Hoodia pills. I tried not eating, but then I got hungry. And although most of the plans I tried involved cutting out entire food groups or adding mass quantities of water, one solid piece of advice weaved a clear path through all the BS (say it with me now):

Get. Your. Greens!

There is so much scientific evidence to support the fact that dark green leafy vegetables are super important in one's diet — spinach, romaine, the omnipresent kale these days, cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, beet greens...it's a long list, which is a good thing — and there's something for everyone.

Think you don't like greens? Is your version of a salad "rabbit food"? Think again! Here are some ways to add more greens to your diet without even flinching.

  • Add them to smoothies and juices. YES, smoothies and juices! Thank Kris Carr at Crazy Sexy Cancer, Crazy Sexy Diet and Crazy Sexy Kitchen for all of her goddess-worthy juice and smoothie recipes. Seriously delicious. Even my 2-year-old likes smoothies with spinach.
  • Add them to pasta dishes. Just added some organic baby greens to our butternut squash dish, because I felt like it. The heat wilts the greens just a tad, and you're boosting nutrient power.
  • Top a pizza with spinach and/or arugula. I love arugula for its peppery bite, but don't put that one in a smoothie! Reserve greens with more flavor, like watercress, for show-stopping pizza pies. Add a little goat cheese and you have a flavorful, healthier version of junk food. This DOES require you to make the pizza yourself — there's no redemption in topping a Domino's imitation-food-pie with anything at all — but if you're too lazy to make the dough, like I usually am, Trader Joe's has a whole-wheat version or it's actually really simple to make in a stand mixer with a dough hook. See here.
  • EAT A SALAD. Yeah, you heard me. Even though it's winter, if you're stuck with a big ole clamshell of green leafies, use some seasonal toppers so it doesn't feel so out of place: Candied nuts (the healthy way with maple syrup!), roasted pumpkin seeds and, yes, butternut squash, all make delicious additions to salads. Whip up your favorite vinaigrette — I like to do a little honey mustard, myself — and you have a salad that is far from hum-drum.
  • Eggs, eggs, eggs. It goes like this: scramble eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in some brie cheese and whatever greens you have on hand. Heaven!

And because I'm so good to you guys, I'm going to link you up with the Goddess of Green Juice herself, Kris Carr. Visit her website for juice and smoothie recipes and healthy, responsible living tips in general.

Another good place to find recipes, of course, is Pinterest (are you following me there?). I think there are two keys to green juice: Either find a method and a recipe you love and stick with it, or just use whatever you have, mix it up and enjoy the heck out of it. The only ingredient I don't like in my juice thus far is celery, but I'm not sure if that would change with the other ingredients I mix in — we'll have to see about that.

So there you have it! Are you reading this? What do you think of the Chicago Now site? Leave me a comment so I know that you stopped by. Questions are welcome. Happy Thanksgiving week!

Filed under: Healthy living

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