Gotta give it up to the man Tony Rebel. His song Fresh Vegetable came out in 1990, and I still sing the chorus in my head almost every time I make a salad. Listen to it here! Just like Tony Rebel, I love fresh vegetables. They’re good for me, they’re delicious, and sometimes — this might sound crazy to the carnivores — but sometimes I really do prefer a veggie meal to a meat-laden dish. By exercising regularly and eating healthy veggies of all colors, I’m loving myself. It’s a beautiful thing.
You already know that I tend to make a lot of stir fry meals and dinner salads, but sometimes I get bored with them. So I have a suggestion that comes to the rescue whenever I wind up stuck for a dinner idea. Here’s what you do. Make yourself some kind of yummy protein — that could be steak — made this this week, and it was amazing! Or chicken or fish or tofu or perhaps some kind of delicious veggie casserole… you get it. Are you hungry yet? I am!
OK, you have your delicious protein, and if you’re like me, you need a hot side dish that doesn’t take too long to prepare. Forget potatoes and heavy, starchy sides. Steamed veggies are where it’s at. Check out this South Beach Diet article on traditional methods of steaming. It is SO easy. Especially now that there are steaming bags of all varieties in the grocery store!
I usually buy the veggies that come in the bag you can just puncture with a fork and stick in the microwave for a few minutes.
But recently, I’ve fallen in love with the Ziploc Zip N Steam microwave steam cooking bags. These are SO EASY!! Each bag comes printed with instructions for each veggie (or you can even cook salmon, shrimp, or chicken in the bag… haven’t done that yet. Chicken in the microwave makes me think of Hottie from Flavor of Love. Um, no).
All you do is put your veggies in the bag, add whatever spices you want, seal, and steam. No need to add water! So far I’ve made everything from cheesy broccoli to corn on the cob to garlicky asparagus. And if you can’t do without the carbs, potatoes also steam up super easy (14 minutes or thereabouts, and they are PERFECTO). By the by, Glad also has microwave bags, but I don’t like them as much — they’ve got this weird shape at the bottom (so they can stand up) and it seems to me that they don’t hold as much as the Ziploc kind.
Vegetables are like the fountain of youth. They offer incredible health benefits to almost every part of you. Eating veggies can make you beautiful and strong, from your hair (see Hair Apparent on AOL’s Black Voices blogs recommends green veggies for faster hair growth), to your heart. It’s still American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women month, so allow me to remind you to check out their website to educate yourself about heart disease. (psst — did you do that heart checkup yet?)
In addition to helpful information about caring for your ticker, the AHA has a few recipes that are quite good. My favorite is the awesome fresh veggie and Canadian bacon pizza recipe that I made to great acclaim (I used a store bought low fat whole wheat pizza crust as a timesaver). I also find loads of good veggie recipes on the Food Network. Giada’s recipes are my favorite! I love the idea of her cornbread panzanella salad. I’ve made her anytime vegetable salad, and it’s to DIE for. I am a fool for edamame, and this salad is just yummylicious. Love it!
Another quick n’ easy dinner time tip requires a little bit of preparation on the weekend. Spend your Sunday afternoon preparing a healthy veggie base and you are golden for the week. Trust me. Here’s the recipe for day-by-day vegetable medley, which is a blessing for the busy. It’s a ratatouille-like mixture of peppers, onions, eggplant, and mushrooms. You can remix it by adding squash and zucchini, and all you need to do is sautee, or you can bring out a different flavor and roast the ingredients on a baking sheet in the oven (for like 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees). Make a big batch, spoon it into five individual dishes, and freeze. The recipes recommended for the medley include pizzas (yummy), shrimp with rice (I prefer couscous), or a Greek-style chicken stew that looks delicious. Will try it and let you all know.
I’ve also been getting great tips from one of my best friends since freshman year of college… my friend Jenny is studying to be a nutritionist at Colombia! She’s got a blog called Eat Orange and Green, which is an homage to our alma mater (Go Canes!) and as Jenny says, “if you eat orange and green produce every day, you are almost guarateed to meet all your vitamin and mineral needs.” She’s finally posting semi-regularly, and she’s got some really interesting food tips. I discovered my new favorite snack through her — almonds! Blue Diamond has some really delicious new varieties of natural oven roasted almonds. My current fave is the vanilla bean almonds. They’re sweet and mild, but not TOO sweet, and I’ve been adding them to my breakfast cereal and afternoon vanilla Activia yogurt snack.
Do you have any new favorite healthy eating tips? Share with me!