Posted on Leave a comment

Greens For Dinner 

Have you ever considered drinking a gallon (3 litres) of green smoothies a day? How about a salad filled with a pound of dark-green leaves? LOL. I figured!

Yes, dark-green leafy vegetables are an essential part of a vibrant diet, but there must be other ways of consuming our leafies without going all in on the liquids or chewing for 1 straight hour. As an effortless fix, I recommend incorporating dark-green leafy vegetables into your favourite dinner dishes and adding new greens-heavy dishes to your regular evening fare. I find these to be two of the best ways to maintain a greens-based diet: adding greens to regular dishes and trying new dishes that have lots of greens.

In my mind, it is a simple fix. Afterall, I’ve spent so much of my life collecting recipe books, watching cooking shows on TV, making playlists of recipe videos on YouTube or filling up recipe boards on Pinterest. (Please tell me you do things like this, too. LOL) Well, just in case you’ve been busy doing more important things – like ending civil wars or providing potable water to displaced communities ūüėČ – I’ve compiled a quick list of scrumptious, vibrant eats for you to add to your usual cooking routine.

Soup

img_2998

Long before we had a flag, reggae music or top class athletes, Jamaicans had Pepperpot Soup. One of the classic Taino dishes that we still enjoy today, the spicy brew is full of leaves, like Callaloo, making a hearty and warm bowl of flavour. This is my favourite thing to have my brother, the chef, make for me.

Pepperpot Soup Recipe


Quiche

img_2999
Yes! It’s possible to make a quiche without any eggs. It’s also possible to whip one up into individual servings: with the magical utensil called a ‘muffin pan’. If you don’t have a latex or other nonstick baking pan, you can always use cupcake liners inside a regular muffin pan to prevent your mini quiches from falling apart. They are great for fancy dinner parties, potlucks or packing into lunch boxes.

Mini Quiche Recipe

 

Stirfry

img_3003

Chinese food and I go way back. I’ve gone to extreme lengths to enjoy the stuff and really appreciate the many ways this cuisine incorporates vegetables into various dishes. Chowmein is a simple stirfry of veggies and noodles and once you make your first batch, you’ll find yourself keeping noodles in the cupboard for a rush-rush day. Unlike most people, you don’t have to use green cabbage or Chinese cabbge everytime. Many dark-green leafy veggies will combine well to produce and excellent meal. You won’t miss any texture of flavour once you do it well.

Vegetable Chowmein Recipe

 

Pizza

This Italian open-faced pie has become an international fun, easy-to-access food. I like to store pre-made crusts in my freezer, but you can easily make one from scratch in a little time. But, if you decide to order from your local pizza shop, you can always request the toppings you love. (Tip: the super-thin crust turns to ‘cinder’ if you don’t add cheese. But, regular crusts will be fine with just sauce and your favourite toppings.)

The highlight of this pizza is the Spinach Pesto used in place of the traditional tomato sauce. But the genius for me, comes in the form of the Cashew Ricotta. I love making tofu ricotta for my lasagna, but I’m a bigger fan of my sister’s Cashew Cheese dips and sauces. So, a Cashew Ricotta is awesome – especially for my peeps who stay away from tofu.

Spinach Pesto & Cashew Ricotta Pizza Recipe

 

img_3004

Just because I have fond memories of making, ordering, and eating pizza as a child, I’m giving you a second recipe for this category. What I specially love about this pizza is that once it comes out of the oven, it’s topped with (fresh / raw) ¬†uncooked leafy greens and other vegetables. Isn’t it beautiful?! It ‘s quite the treat for anyone who loves Mexican flavours.

Taco Pizza Recipe

 

Casserole

img_3006

I was probably in Primary School, the first time I saw lasagna being served was on TV. I promptly asked my mother to make it and grew up enjoying it at least once a year Рusually at some big fancy dinner. But, once I started banging the pots around in my own kitchen, I found out how to make various versions of this one of a kind dish. A well-made tofu ricotta or cashew cheese sauce can easily substitute dairy cheeses and satisfy the biggest lasagna fan.

Spinach Lasagna Recipe

 

Pasta

img_3002

Plain pasta, usually spaghetti, is in regular rotation for my family. Usually because it works as a quick meal you can put together in 10 minutes or less. But, to kill the boredom that comes with traditional tomato sauces, the Spinach Pesto stars the show. Pastas like linguine are a great choice for offering variety to your palate without losing out on flavour nor simplicity.

Linguine with Spinach-Lemon Pesto Recipe

 

What other greens-heavy dishes have you been enjoying?

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

5 Easy Dishes Packed With Greens For a Tasty Breakfast 

The healthy eating guidelines published around the world will tell you that you need to get 3-6 servings of raw and cooked veggies everyday. Dark-green leafy vegetables need to fill up most of that vegetable quota and a lunchtime salad is surely not enough. So, if your aim is to eat (or drink) at least 3 servings of leafy greens every day, it might be a good idea to include 1 serving in each of your main meals throughout the day. But, does that mean you’re stuck having salads for breakfast? If you love a big salad, then sure it’s fine. But if you’re looking for quick, easy and flavour-packed, the question won’t sit so easily with you.

I know. You haven’t really thought of more than a couple simple and tasty recipes that you an rely on for getting your greens in at breakfast time. But, don’t worry. I did the thinking for you ūüėČ

If you flip through your best recipe books, you might be surprised to see all the different ways that dark-green leafy vegetables can become the star of your morning plate or shine as the perfect compliment to your usual favourites. Whenever you decide to try them out, you will certainly do a much better job of eating/drinking up your daily nutritional requirement just by adding a serving of leafy greens to your breakfast plate.

Below you will find 5 different kinds of dishes (with recipes in the links) that you can put into rotation for breakfast and easily increase the amount of leafy greens you consume everyday:

Stirfries

Steamed Callaloo
Steamed Callaloo

My favourite way to have greens on my plate, is in a stirfry, and most Jamaicans grew up eating ‘steamed’ Callaloo, Cabbage or Pakchoy for breakfast. My mother had filled half the backyard with callaloo, sprouting new leaves all year long, to ensure that we fed on those leaves, for what seemed like every Sunday morning. While some persons assume that salted codfish is Callaloo’s bestfriend, I have been eating my stirfried greens for years and prefer to combine it with other vegetables, like carrots, mushrooms, and various peas and beans. With the right herbs, spices and sauces, you won’t miss a thing!

 

Wraps

Tofu Scramble Breakfast Burrito

Breakfast Burrito

I love wraps! All flatbreads count. Roti, tortillas, pita bread and of course, bammy (wafers). Mostly populare at lunchtime, wraps are great for breakfast because you can drop them in your handbag and head on the road without worrying about missing the most important meal of the day. To save time, you can always make them the night before, seal them up in plastic wrap and eat them chilled or reheated in the morning. You can fill them with leftovers from your green veggie stirfry dinner or fill them up with Romaine Lettuce topped with scrambled tofu or your favourite beans.

 

Muffins

Double Chocolate Spinach Muffin

Double Chocolate Spinach Muffins

Some people don’t mind the green colour of Popeye Muffins, but if you are not yet comfy with the grassy hue, you can add chocolate to your recipe for a ‘secret’ healthy muffin. Your children and friends won’t notice the difference when you sneak in leafy greens into the sweet treats. Muffins are a great on those mornings when you are strapped for time, because they can be made ahead, frozen and reheated in the toaster oven for a wholesome breakfast bite that you can enjoy on-the-go. Perfect if you like meal planning and freezer meals, you can enjoy variations like Blueberry Kale or Banana Spinach.

 

Omelettes

Tofu Omelette

Tofu Omelette with Spinach & Mushrooms

That one summer holiday after I learnt egg cookery in my high school Food & Nutrition class. LOL. I went through my mother’s tray (yes, 24 eggs) in about 2 weeks! I made every version of scrambled eggs and style of omelette I could dream up. By September, I couldn’t stand the scent of eggs! But, I still love scrambling and folding fluffy batters filled with different chopped up goodies. Whether you choose to use tofu or chickpea flour to¬†make your omelettes, you should try to saut√© your favourite greens and fold them inside. Stuff your omelettes until they pop open or sprinkle in the leaves along with other veggies – either way, you are guaranteed a hearty start to your day.

 

Smoothies

Mango & Baby Bok Choy Smoothie

Mango & Baby Bok Choy Smoothie

You really didn’t think I would end this list without including a smoothie, did you? LOL.

The quickest, easiest and probably tastiest way to pack in a huge amount of dark-green leafy vegetables for breakfast is with your blender. With smoothies, the greens are liquefied, so they are absorbed much quicker than if you were to chew them; and the ‘bushy’ flavour gets masked by the sweetness of the season’s best sunripened fruit. So, if you haven’t started, it’s time to get blending. Then, when you find a really good recipe (the kind you think you should drink every single day), just be sure to rotate your greens. Don’t be afraid to try different leaves in your blends from time to time. The same fruits that work with the baby bok choy will go just as well with the watercress or the arugula.

 

Plan For Your New Eating Habits

While, you may be inspired to try any of these dishes, habits are hard to develop and even harder to break. So, plan ahead to ensure you keep your kitchen stocked with leafy greens, then decide which dishes you’ll make throughout the week to keep yourself focused.

 

Which of these will you try today?


Posted on Leave a comment

6 Healthy Eating Hacks For When You Don’t Want to Give Up Meat & Dairy

When you sit down to a plate of food, the first thing on your mind is whether or not it tastes good. Ofcourse you know that your food choices make a difference in your health and appearance. But, not everyone can follow a raw food, vegan or even, vegetarian diet. You love good food and you like to eat whatever you want. You keep wondering why some people keep telling you to abandon your tastebuds and give up all the foods you enjoy eating. After all, not everyone can follow a raw food, vegan or even, vegetarian diet! 

While I don’t miss eating meat nor dairy, I know that many of my loved ones feel like they can’t survive a day without stuff like chicken, fish or cheese. I still hear the comments and get the emails, “I want to start eating healthy, but I don’t think the food tastes good without the meat.” What you really mean when you say that sort of thing is, “I can’t be bothered with learning to make any new dishes or trying out new options on the restaurant menu. Don’t you know any way for me to get around the ‘change your diet’ thing?” (My response to the ‘making plants taste great’ challenge is quite simple, but that answer is for another topic, on another day.) So, can you get around changing your diet, while reaping the health benefits?

Yes and no. You don’t need to give up your favourite meat and dairy dishes and become a vegetarian. But, you will need to eat a whole lot more leafy green vegetables than you’re used to.

The earth isn’t half green for no reason! You were meant to eat greens. In fact, half of your plate at mealtime and at least half of what you eat daily from the plant world should be green.
Greens are the life force of the vegetable kingdom. Green leafy vegetables like kale, collards, Swiss chard, and spinach carry with them all the nutrients you need to thrive.  

from “Appreciate the Power of Greens in a Plant-Based Diet” in Plant-Based Diet For Dummies by Marni Wasserman)

Dark-green, leafy vegetables are the one food I tell myself that I must consume every day, and the one food I recommend to others to base their diet on. The colour green represents life, renewal, nature, life, growth and freshness – all things we need to be healthy, yet greens are often the dish we kotch onto the side of a scanty plate or resort to when the cashflow is low. However, as Wasserman points out, greens are our life force!

Whether you are a staunch raw vegan or a junkfood addict, eating more greens is the best thing you can do for your health. In fact, most vegetarians and vegans don’t consume enough dark-green leafy vegetables. Instead, their diet is heavy in starch foods like rice, bread and pasta. While whole grains are an essential part of balanced diet, they shouldn’t be the main part of the diet. Ever wonder why many of the popular weightloss programmes encourage ‘no carbs’ and leave you eating ‘lean protein and salads’? Since they often limit the amount of lean protein you eat at each meal, you’re left filling up on the vegetables from the salads and the high intake of greens ultimately proves itself by melting the excess fat, boosting your immunity, supercharging your energy supply and giving you glowing skin.

  

So, how do you eat more greens? Sneak them into your regular eating routine! 

A lot of the foods we already eat can be modified to include dark green leafy vegetables without compromising on taste. Here are 6 different types of meals that you can sneak leafy greens into for maximum nutrition:Juices & Smoothies

1. Smoothies & Juices

Whether you are on #TeamBlender or #TeamJuicer, liquefying your greens is one of the most efficient methods of consuming dark-green leafy vegetables in large quantities. The best part, for me at least, is the option we have of combining the greens with our favourite sun-riped fruit for a sweet beverage that almost always tastes better than it looks.
Soups & Stews

2. Sides & Salad

From Callaloo Rice to Garden Salads, the side dishes we pile onto our plates don’t need to be starch-heaven. We can green them up with our favourite leaves, adding nourishment, texture and colour. Your macaroni salad is not off-limits either. Just saute your greens and mix it in. Of course, for vegetable salads, you should “Go Large” and “Go Hard” with the greens. The darker the green of the leaves, the better.

3. Stir-fries

This is my 2nd favourite way to have my leafy greens. In fact, stirfried or saut√©ed greens end up on my family’s daily menu at least once a day. You can have the greens all by themselves, lightly seasoned with your favourite herbs and aromatics (e.g. garlic, onion, escallion), or toss various non-leafy veggies in the mix with your favourite sauce. I love stirfries because they can be served for any meal of the day.

4. Sandwiches 

Not everyone loves to eat their ‘main dish’ in between two slices of bread, but there are other ways to enjoy your greens aside from the traditional loaf squares. Warm roti skins or other flatbreads are an excellent alternative to the regular ‘harddough’ bread. Using tortillas and pitas, you can stuff lots of greens into your burritos, tacos, falafel pockets. Of course, there are open face sandwiches, so we can enjoy our leafy toppings on servings of bammy or crackers, too.

5. Sweet Treats

Smart mothers around the world have found innovative ways of sneaking veggies into treats their children enjoy for centuries. But, now you can do it for yourself knowg the benefits of an Otaheite Apple & Romaine Lettuce Icicle (Freezer Pop) or Blueberry-Kale Ice Cream. You can find recipes for cookies, muffins and even key lime pies that have been infiltrated by hearty servings of dark-green leafy vegetables. Sometimes the greens help to colour the desserts and sometimes they go undetected.

6. Soups & Stews

Ital stew is not just for peas and beans, toss in some shredded greens in the last few minutes of cooking, for a powerful dose of energy and immunity. Any stew that you set to simmer is worth the upgrade of leafy greens, so don’t be afraid to include them. The traditional Jamaican pepperpot soup is an excellent way of sipping on some warm greens, but you don’t need to limit your soup-and-greens pleasure to that age-old dish. Just like the stews, you can toss in a handful of edible leaves towards the end of your soup pot’s boiling time or make it a main star alongside other key ingredients in your soup.

 
The reality is that just by increasing the amount of leafy greens in your diet, you are guaranteed a health boost. Unlike other elements of the modern diet, whole (unrefined) vegetables don’t harm us when consumed frequently and in large quantities. They only restore our bodies’ immune systems to optimum performance and give us steady supplies of high energy and mental clarity. So, today is the day to make greens the foundation on which you build the rest of your diet – whatever your diet may be. After all, the earth isn’t half green for no reason ūüėČ

    Posted on Leave a comment

    3 Easy-to-Pick-up Habits For A Greener, Vibrant New Year!

    Happy New Year!

    You crossed it! You were¬†given 366 blank pages to fill with vibrant, health-sustaining habits.¬†If you spent most of 2015 underserving your body, then today – right now when you’re reading this – is the day to do something different.

     

    Lifestyles & Habits

    The question we most often ask persons who are hearty and agile in their 80s, 90s and 100s is, “What did you do?” This is because we understand that their lifestyle was the main contributor to their long life. But, what so many of us fail to realise is that a lifestyle is built on habits, and habits are things we have done so consistently that we do them on autopilot. These little things that we do every day, without even thinking about them, are so ingrained into our psyches that they are part of our identities.¬†This is why short-term fixes like a weight-loss programme or even a fitness challenge never produce long-term results. We only follow the guidelines for a specific duration and then return to our normal way of being once the programme or challenge has ended.

    Even if you have joined me in a 30-Day Jamaican Green Smoothie Challenge or even read the Jamaican Green Smoothies book cover-to-cover, it won’t be long-lasting unless drinking a green smoothie becomes a daily habit.

     

    Pic 2

    Greens

    Now, I’m not just talking to you! This message is for me, too. You see, I got into the green smoothie movement by accident, really. I was trying to find a patch to fix a problem some of my friends had: food addictions that prevented them from sticking to their commitments to make healthier eating choices. Then as I sought out solutions and explored green smoothies, I realised three¬†things:

    1. If you drink a green smoothie every day, you will get maximum nutrition and your daily supply of fruits and vegetables.
    2. If you drink a green smoothie every day, you will change your palate (the things you think taste good).
    3. If you drink a green smoothie every day, you will kill the cravings and addictions you have for all the wrong foods. For example, the cups of coffee you must have throughout the day, the extra cheese and bacon you always add to your lunch order, or the pastry shop you have never been able to walk by without getting your fingers sticky.

    Well, anyway, these 3 lovely things, were my reasons for getting my friends and loved ones to join¬†#TeamBlender. But, in the beginning, I never realised that even vegetarians, vegans and whole-food, plant-based eaters needed to pick up a green smoothie habit, too. Now, I do and today, my personal mantra is “Gratitude, Greens & Growth” (referring to my philosophy for life which addresses my values for Spirit, Body & Mind). ‘Greens’ have become my symbol for vibrant health because¬†as I have researched nutrition¬†and shown¬†others to build a green smoothie habit, I have come to learn how essential dark-green leafy vegetables are to our diet. So, now I understand that while a diet made up of mostly plants is preferable, most of those plants need to be dark-green and leafy!

     

    Greener Habits

    So, if you’re like me and have decided to put your health on top priority for this new year but you¬†want to keep it simple, I have 3 habits that you can pick up to transform your life, one day at a time:

     

    Flush : Water

    1. Flush

    Have you ever seen the notice on the back of a bottle of chemical or cosmetics, that instructs you to flush your eye with water if the product gets into it? Well, that’s what I mean by ‘flush’.¬†A big thing that many health-seekers miss is¬†water! You¬†need to flush your system out by drinking enough water. You probably already know that you need to rehydrate your body because you lose water when you exhale, sweat or urinate. But, in addition to that, you need to flush out waste matter and any harmful substances that get into your body through food or the environment.

    If you are not drinking half your body weight (or more) in water, then you need to start today; and, “half your body weight in water” works out in ounces. Therefore, if you weigh 130lbs, you need to drink 65oz or 2 litres of water each day.) So, everyday you need to be drinking enough water to flush your system.

     

    Flood : Green Smoothie

    2. Flood

    While drinking lots of water helps you to flush out the toxins in your body, drinking green smoothies helps you to flood your body with energising, nourishing, immunising and detoxifying nutrients. Green smoothies are blended beverages made from dark-green leafy vegetables, fruits and unsweetened liquids (like water, herbal tea or orange juice). The liquefied vegetables are easier to consume than if you had to chew through a large salad and your body is better able to digest the nutrients because they hit your stomach ready to be absorbed into your blood stream. Of course, the combination of the fruits and vegetables gives the drink a pleasant flavour that even children and sugar-lovers will enjoy.

    So, as you blend up your greens, you can just begin to imagine the vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants rushing through your digestive system and bloodstream like a big flood through a parched and deserted piece of land.

     

    Flex : Exercise

    3. Flex

    Did you know that when you move your body, exert energy, raise your heartbeat, breathe heavily and break out a sweat you are helping your body to heal, renew and get rid of toxins? Working out is also a great way to manage stress, because it floods your body with the happiness hormone and distracts you from the challenges you have to hurdle from day-to-day. Flexing your muscles, through regular exercise is key to vibrant health and happiness. Of course, exercise helps you to use up any excess calories that make you overweight, but it can also build new muscles to make you fitter and stronger Рwhich is so important as we get older with each new year.

    But, you don’t need to fork out money for membership at the gym. A brisk walk through your neighbourhood or a quick workout with a fitness expert on YouTube will do you just fine. Just ensure that you recruit a friend or family member, because¬†you will need the accountability partner and of course, you want them to be healthy and happy as well.

     

    As we embrace the concept of ‘new beginnings’ that comes with the changing calendars and commit to living intentionally, let us work on building vibrant habits: simple things that we can do every day – not just for a 30-day challenge or a 90-day weight-loss plan. With consistency¬†and focus you¬†can design a vibrant life. Don’t think about your mistakes of yesterday or the health failures of last year.

    You can start over today.

    So, will you join me in building greener habits, this year?