A WHOLE New Way of Looking at Food
It’s a brand new year, which means a new opportunity to revamp old eating habits. This year, rather than setting lofty food goals or worse, starting a diet, why don’t you try something a bit more sustainable and hopefully more fun - incorporate more whole foods into your meals.
noun: food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances.
The best way to start adding in whole foods is to buy fruits and vegetables and whole grains (think: brown rice, bulgur wheat, amaranth, quinoa, farro) at the store or farmer’s market and start trying them in your favorite recipes.
Tips for more eating whole foods:
- Like pasta? Try substituting mixing whole wheat pasta with your regular pasta. Eating both at the same time helps your palate adjust over time.
- Add arugula, kale or spinach to your grilled cheese sandwich (tomato and/or avocado too!).
- Toss some cut up veggies (examples: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and/or beets) or leafy greens (like arugula and spinach) with your mac and cheese.
- Add extra veggies to your pasta sauce: I like to sautee onions, mushrooms and spinach to toss in with a plain marinara sauce.
- Don’t think you like a veggie? Try cooking it a different way. Steaming, roasting, sauteeing and blanching are all great ways to prepare vegetables.
- Try roasting a spaghetti squash and serving it for dinner with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese.
- Mix sauteed vegetables with your favorite whole grain and some avocado, salt and spices to make a hearty grain and veggie bowl.
- Make your oatmeal more delicious by tossing in a handful of frozen berries before cooking. (My favorite oatmeal recipe is put ½ cup oats & ⅓ cup berries in a microwave safe bowl, add water just to cover, microwave 2 minutes, stir, add milk if you please. EAT!)
Resources for cooking whole foods:
Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair
Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson
The Moosewood Cookbook by Molly Katzen
I also recommend asking local farmers at the farmer’s market near you for recipes and/or their favorite ways to cook and eat the vegetables and fruits they grow.
Tips for Eating more Greens
● Serve your favorite soup, beans or chili (canned is fine) over a bowl of raw greens such as spinach, watercress, Napa cabbage, thin chopped kale or arugula. The warmth of the soup will wilt the greens and make them more tender.
● Blend fresh or frozen greens like spinach or kale with your favorite fruit and almond milk, soy milk or yogurt for a smoothie.
● Add chopped greens like bok choy, chard, kale or cabbage to a stir-fry.
● Sauté onions and garlic in a bit of broth or olive oil, add kale, chard, broccoli rabe, mustard greens or collards and cook until tender.
● Add leafy greens to sandwiches — watercress, baby spinach or arugula are tender greens or heartier greens like kale and chard can be used raw or wilted first (steamed or 20 seconds covered in a microwave).
● Use large, flat-leaf greens like romaine lettuce or steamed collards as you would a tortilla to create healthier wraps.
● Add cooked greens (steamed or sautéed) to your pasta. Plain cooked with olive oil and parmesean or with a cheese sauce.
● Add extra chopped greens like spinach, kale, collards and bok choy into soups, stews and pasta sauces, cooking until tender.
I hope the New Year brings you a deeper appreciation for all the ways whole foods can be incorporated into your meals.
Eliza Lagerquist, MS, RD, CD