So, last time I shared with you the amazing health benefits of mushrooms. Today, I want to let you in on a little secret. Here it is: If you follow the sage advice of Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and In Defense of Food, and Food Rules, you’ll be so much closer to feeling your best, looking your best, and living your best life. (Okay, I borrowed that last part from Oprah; but don’t we all want to live our best life?)
Michael Pollan says, “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.”
Eat Food: We all think we’re eating food, right? But if what we’re eating comes out of a box, and has a long list of ingredients that we can’t pronounce, and doesn’t grow in or on the ground, or walk, or swim, it’s not food. Seriously…it’s a food product…produced not by Mother Nature, but by someone’s mother (or father), in a lab or factory.
Not Too Much: Self explanatory, yet easier said than done.
Mostly Plants: I can’t say I’m there yet, but I have created a time-efficient, no-excuse plan to add more plants (veggies) into my family’s bodies.
So, here it is in a nutshell; what we all need to do is, eat more vegetables….period.
Are you ready? I call this my 5-Day Crudité Plan.
The premise is: buy veggies on the first day, any kind you and your family like, clean them, cut them up and use them all week long in your meals. Very simple. I guarantee if you follow this type of plan, constipation will be an issue of the past.
I usually begin on Sunday, but feel free to begin your plan any day of the week that’s convenient for you.
Buy, wash, cut-up and arrange raw veggies on a plate or platter that can fit in your fridge. This will be your go-to meal starter every day.
I make the arrangement on the left when I’m feeling overwhelmed. Somehow by putting all of the vegetables in order like this creates a sense of order in my mind. The crudité arrangement on the right is my nod to artist Jackson Pollock. I make this one when I’m feeling confident, artistic, or wild and crazy.
Serve your beautiful crudité with a dip, and just leave it on the kitchen counter for you and your family to munch on while you’re preparing dinner. You can also steam some of the vegetables from the platter to enjoy as part of your meal.
Monday – Day 1
Lunch: How about a tuna fish sandwich?
Chop up some celery and carrots and put it in with the tuna and mayo. Top with cucumber slices and a couple of halved cherry tomatoes – all from your crudité platter. You’re good to go!
Dinner: The crudité still looks good raw, so let’s take advantage of eating our veggies raw tonight. As long as it doesn’t bother your stomach, raw veggies are super-nutritious. They retain all of their enzymes, which are important because they aid in digestion and absorption of foods.
At our house, we’ve been trying to do the new, “Meatless Monday” thing. Such a great concept, but, oh so tough sometimes. I usually start out making a big pot of brown rice, and saving some for the next night’s dinner. On top of each of our bowls of rice, I’ll add cooked beans (black beans are my fave), chopped raw veggies, (from the platter), chopped avocado, a little salsa, and a sprinkle of cheese. I’ll serve corn tortilla chips on the side for dipping into our fiesta feast. I always feel holier than thou until my family asks, “Where’s the meat?” Oh well, a work in progress. I do keep sliced turkey breast and hard boiled eggs in the fridge most of the time, so when the animal urge for animal protein comes calling, these urges can always be satisfied.
Tuesday – Day 2
Lunch: Chopped Salad.
Chop, washed Romaine lettuce leaves, finely, leaving a few leaves whole for another day. Add a handful of chopped raw veggies to the chopped romaine, and whatever protein you like, turkey, roast beef, tuna, salmon, tofu, eggs, beans, etc. Add some EVOO and balsamic vinegar, and mix.
Dinner: Chicken Stir-Fry with Veggies and Brown Rice.
This impressive meal could not be any easier or quicker to make. Sauté chicken tenders in EVOO, and remove to a plate when cooked through. Add a bit more oil to the pan. Add the cut-up raw veggies from the platter, and cook over medium heat until they reach the desired doneness. Add the leftover brown rice, from the night before, to the pan of veggies along with a splash of soy sauce, or use Tamari sauce if you’re gluten intolerant. Place the reserved chicken tenders back into the pan with the veggies and rice. Mix. Call everyone for dinner.
Wednesday- Day 3
Lunch: Do you remember those reserved lettuce leaves from the day before? You can make your own lettuce wraps for lunch just by filling a leaf with the leftover Chicken Stir-Fry. This is good warm or cold.
Dinner: Usually by this time, your veggies will start to lose some of their vibrancy. Now is the time to roast them. Place a bunch on a sheet pan, sprinkle with EVOO, salt and pepper and roast in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.
When you roast your veggies, not only are you adding an extra day to their usefulness, but you’re also adding a wonderfully rich, caramelized taste and texture to these healthy little nuggets.
So what’s for dinner tonight?
It’s another easy one for my family and me, AND as usual, it involves a boatload of healthy vegetables.
Roasted Veggie Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella. Always a crowd pleaser in our house.
Thursday – Day 4
Lunch: Love that veggie pizza. Leftovers for lunch.
Dinner: Who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? Good, ‘cause we do too. So, tonight we’re having Roasted Veggie Omelet with Herbed Goat Cheese, a side of Turkey Bacon, and a bowl of fruit and we’re all happy, especially me. This is a “no-brainer” dinner and by Thursday, I usually feel like I am a “no-brainer.”
Friday – Day 5
TGIF. I have one last meal idea for you with the last of the roasted vegetables. I love making dinner on Friday nights for Mr. S. and me. I open a bottle of wine and enjoy a glass as I’m leisurely cooking. There are no time constraints tonight, no deadlines to meet, just a quiet evening to catch up with each other.
Dinner: Spaghetti with Roasted Vegetable Meat Sauce. (Actually, it’s bison, which has a lower fat content than beef). Ground turkey works well here too. Simply brown the meat of your choice, and drain the fat. Or omit the meat altogether and make it vegetarian. Add the remaining roasted veggies and your favorite sauce. Ladle on top of cooked pasta and Voila.
The Coat Closet
I know, you can’t even think of putting on a coat while it’s a balmy 68 degrees outside, so why would you begin to sort through your coat closet? Because, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to stay this nice through the winter, so you might as well tackle it now. Plus, the added bonus is, you may be able to help keep someone else warm this season by donating your gently used coats.
Take everything out of your front hall and/or mudroom coat closet. Lay all of the coats on a chair or the floor if it’s clean.
One by one, go through every coat, jacket, parka and poncho to decide if you will wear it this winter. If the answer is, yes; decide if it needs to be cleaned. If so, put it in a pile for either the laundry or dry cleaner. If the answer is, no, you won’t wear it; put it in a pile to donate or give to a friend or family member who would love to have it. (Thanks Mom and Cathy, in advance).
If the coat is clean, and you will wear it, it goes back into the closet, but not before you check the pockets for miscellaneous items from last winter; used tissues, missing leather gloves, a parking ticket you never paid, ugh!
Repeat this process with all of the remaining coats.
Go through your gloves, hats and scarves. Again, see what you will wear, what needs to be cleaned, and what should be given or thrown away.
For Extra Credit:
Mop the floor of the closet, or vacuum it, if there’s carpet. You’d be surprised how dirty this can get over the summer.
So my friends, I hope you have a great week ahead. Remember, try to eat more vegetables, and clear out the unused coats from your closet. See you next week.