Now that we’ve all reveled and partied, socialized and entertained, and eaten and drunk possibly past the point of judicious reason on one or more occasions during the holidays, it’s time for a more moderate approach. One with less – of everything involving fat, carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and excess. But, on the other hand, one with more greens.
The quickest and simplest way to find dietary equilibrium is add greens to our diets. You’ll eat less of the other things and add all the good stuff that comes with greens at the same time. This could take shape in a number of ways.
Green vegetables of all kinds, as many of us know, are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
What they aren’t filled with is fat, carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol and excess, unless we are talking portion size and in this case, more is a good thing.
Get your greens any way you can. Here are a few suggestions from my kitchen:
1. Add a salad to an already planned dinner. Easy, easy. This is something many of us already do; just make sure you have enough greens in the house and use a vinaigrette rather than a creamy dressing for a little while. When you dress your salad with lemon juice (and extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper) you have the added bonus of helping your body to absorb all of the nutrients in the greens.
2. Salad as the main meal. Add protein of any kind and texture of any kind to create a meal rather than a side. Beans, avocado, nuts, dried fruit, cooked chicken or fish – really the sky is the limit.
3. Add another green vegetable to an already planned dinner. Steamed or sauteed is best for nutrient retention. With either, remove from heat when tender but still bright green.
4. Smoothies made with kale, spinach, Swiss chard or collard greens. Add a handful of greens to your favorite breakfast smoothie.
If you choose fruit or veggies that are light or green in color, your smoothie will also be bright green. If you love strawberries or other red or purple fruit in your smoothie, you’ll have to deal with dull green and brown. Get over it, they still taste great!
5. Add pureed greens to already prepared soups.
Spinach (or other green) puree: For every soup that serves four people, heat 1 cup of chicken or vegetable stock and puree with one cup lightly packed greens. Add to prepared soup right before serving and serve immediately. If not, the brilliant green becomes a dull avocado color.
6. Substitute a bed of greens for pasta, potatoes or rice.
For example, with beans and brown rice for dinner, just add a bed of sauteed kale, or even better, forgo the rice and just have the beans and kale with all the fixins.
Instead of mashed potatoes, add roasted kale or collard greens to your plate.
Toss spinach leaves with a hot vegetable pasta sauce and have a warm wilted salad for dinner without the pasta.
7. Soups with greens as the main event.
Spinach Soup (with variations)
This soup is a gorgeous, brilliant green, and should be served immediately. If you would like to make it ahead, prepare everything, up to adding the spinach. When you are ready to serve, heat the soup to a simmer and puree with spinach in the blender as per the directions.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 cups diced onions; about 1 medium onion
1-1/2 cups diced celery; about 2 stalks
1 cup peeled and diced parsnips; about 2 parsnips
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/2 cup white wine
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3 ounces spinach leaves, destemmed and well washed; about 3 cups lightly packed
Garnish with minced chives or a swirl of creme fraiche
In a medium stockpot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and saute until they become soft and translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Add the stock and again bring to a boil.
Place the uncooked spinach leaves in the blender and pour the hot stock over the leaves. Puree in a blender and serve immediately.
Serves 4 (makes 6 cups).
• Chicken and Cilantro Spinach Soup: Add 1/2 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves with the spinach and 1-1/2 cups diced poached chicken after pureeing.
• Cannellini Bean and Pesto Spinach Soup: Add 4 tablespoons pesto with the spinach and one 15-ounce can of cannellini beans after pureeing.
• Kale and Mushroom Soup: Substitute kale for spinach and add 1 cup sauteed mushrooms (3 cups raw and sliced) after pureeing.
Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at: