The sometime-futility of eating healthy is not lost on me. I go through phases of surviving on grilled cheese and Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core countered by kale and kitchari marathons with more ease than a shitting seagull. During even my unhealthy periods, however, I know how important green vegetables are to health and try to slip them in there wherever possible.
One of the reasons I’m so hot and cold with my diet is workload. When things get really busy, it can take more effort than I have available to complete a proper grocery-store run, leaving me to either order takeout or cook from only the pantry if I didn't have time to stop. Keeping that pantry stocked with just one or two extra items can make all the difference!
If you use these three simple tips, even during your busiest moments you can have the nutrient boost of green vegetables!
Keeping frozen veggies on hand at all times.
Though I could munch on an entire head of broccoli 100% raw and love every bite, the running joke in NYC is that a head of fresh broccoli costs more than a triple cheeseburger.
Then there is it's handling, preparation, storage, and cooking. Then you have to make it before it goes bad, which is also difficult when you have barely enough time to boil a pot of water some weeks.
This is precisely why I keep certain frozen veggies on hand at all times: spinach, broccoli, and peas. Not only does adding a veggie improve the taste of your dish, it adds crucial vitamins such as C and B's, which you’d be missing out on otherwise.
My favorites are last-minute broccoli mac and cheese, peas with garlic as a side or mushed into toast, or spinach stirred into a sauce, gravy, or omelette. Though you can still get calories and nutrition from canned veggies, they are significantly lower in vitamin content from the preservation process, and sometimes have added salt or sugar, so just be aware of that.
To make my dumb-easy mac and cheese: I lightly defrost the frozen veggies in an oven-safe casserole and drain any excess water. Follow box instructions (or literally any from-scratch recipe), adding strained pasta to a casserole dish with veggies and mixing the cheese into both. I usually bake it uncovered with breadcrumbs for a few minutes to get the veggies just right and make it look fancy.
Keep veggie powder on hand for desperate moments.
Having powders like this is such a simple way to get a quick boost of greens. When I’m on my best behavior I have one every day, even if I'm already eating healthy.
You can also add a powder like this to anything, from smoothies to soups and even cocktails (healthy bloody Mary?). It’s like tomato-less V8 powder!
Take tablets when you travel.
Vacations are when I eat the worst. Traveling as a vegetarian is often a joke, and sometimes in foreign countries, I have the choice of meat or hunger. For this reason, these 8G tablets are my new travel BFF.
Whether you have to survive on french-fry-stuffed-burger-free-burgers because you’re in the saladless interstate road stops of America or have to choke down chicken because the cabin in the jungle has literally nothing but coconuts in a tree, you can get that side salad to go if you have access to water.
8G is a tablet that contains eight greens including algae, spirulina, chlorella, barley, wheatgrass, aloe, spinach and kale. I probably wouldn’t want to eat most of those things, but chugging a little green fizzy drink is something I can do. The taste is somewhere in-between a wheatgrass shot and a packet of Emergen-C — not horrible, but not something I crave either.
Greens are so important to your health no matter how you get them. Be a juicer or be a raw-kale-nibbling rabbit like myself, but you just need to eat them, and daily. I prefer mine in whole plant form because fiber, but juice is pretty cool, too, and has the vitamins and minerals you need to grow hair, have glowing skin, or not disintegrate into a pile of malnourished goo while waiting for the bus.
- What’s your favorite veggie (or veggie dish)?
- How do you get the veggies you need in your diet?
Photos: Maria Penaloza