Quick Vegetables- Cooking Strategies for the Busy Person
One of the most difficult parts of a weight loss plan for busy people is fitting in those veggies! If you are one of our hundreds of patients who complain that between full time work or managing kids—or both—that you just can’t find the time, these strategies should help! Getting your vegetables into your diet is critical to success, and cooking them doesn’t have to eat up your limited time!
Strategy #1: Spinach, Your “Fast Food” Deep Green Super-Food Vegetable
Spinach is one of the most densely nutritious foods available, and it is often labeled a “super food” for it’s ability to give you the best bang for your buck in terms of phyto-nutrients and minerals to boost your health and reduce inflammation.
It is best to eat just barely cooked as the nutrition is harder to absorb when you eat spinach raw, but if you overcook it, you also will lose the nutrition. The good news is that spinach is easy and better yet, very QUICK to cook! Always have spinach around for the following QUICK strategies:
- Sauteed Spinach for Dinner: Don’t have time to cut up a salad? No problem! Use 1-2 tsps of coconut oil and chop 1 small clove of garlic into a skillet, stir over medium heat for 1 minute. Then add 2-3 huge handfuls of spinach and stir over medium heat until wilted. This super food greens recipe cooks in just 3 minutes or less and is perfect as a vegetable portion for lunch or dinner when eating leftovers! Add salt and pepper to taste! It just doesn’t get quicker to get your greens!
- Adding Spinach to Any Hot Meal: Spinach is also great to add last minute to hot soups and dishes. Again, you don’t want spinach super cooked, because then you lose all the nutrition. You want it “just wilted” for best absorption. Spinach is FABULOUS to stir into your bowl of soup or to put hot food over. It’s really THAT quick and simple. Throwing spinach into soups at lunch while at the workplace is a GREAT way to get your greens at lunch.
Strategy #2: Get Out Your Steamer Basket!
It’s been a long day at the office and the last thing you want to do is cook or grill some fancy vegetables! You’re tired. The commute sucked. Can’t you just eat a piece of bread? NO, not if you want to lose weight. Have heart–this strategy is quick and easy even for the laziest of folks!
Get out your old-fashioned stovetop steamer basket and put it in a lidded saucepan with water, and get ready for “set it and forget it” vegetable cooking! While you’re relaxing on the couch, food can be cooking!
- Garnet Yams: one of our “go-to” weight loss carbs. Quarter your garnet yams and throw them in the steamer. They take 20-25 minutes to cook in the steamer basket. Once you’ve got a yam piece or two on your plate, add a little raw organic butter, salt and pepper and you’ve got your anti-inflammatory complex carbohydrate with healthy fats ready while you’ve been sitting watching the news.
- Add chopped kale or chard last minute! Did you know that deep leafy greens such as kale and chard literally will steam cook in 5-7 minutes? I often throw the greens in right before the yams are finished! Almost the entire dinner will be in the steamer basket. When the greens come out, drizzle olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar, add a few avocado slices and salt and pepper to taste! Delicious! You can do this!
- Any vegetable you want to add will steam quickly without hassle! Green beans, brussel sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower! Get out your steamer basket and “set it and forget it!” All of these veggies are great with fresh olive oil, a touch of balsamic vinegar if desired, salt and pepper or with some raw organic butter melted on top. Painless and quick!
Strategy #3: How To Get Veggies in at Work!
Getting those lunch vegetables in at work is another area of difficulty for people who work full time. Most people do not have full kitchens for creating salads or to cook greens at work. Nor do they have the time! The following ideas should help!
- Throw rinsed celery sticks, carrots and bell peppers into your lunch bag. They don’t have to be peeled or cut. I pull the top off the red bell peppers and just munch through them whole. With these 3 fresh veggies, you’re getting all the minerals of something green, the beta-carotene of something orange, and all the vitamin C and vibrant phyto-nutrients of the red bell pepper! Easy, and best of all, no prep time: QUICK!
- Add spinach or arugula to hot food! We discussed spinach before, but arugula is another quality fast food green that can be used in salads raw or is GREAT when placed under cooked meat, hot foods, or thrown into soups. Either can be mixed into beans or chilis (I prefer arugula in hot beans). These two greens are your best bets for wilting into hot food at the work place (or at home)!
- During lunches out with co-workers, get the chicken, beef, or salmon salad! You will be getting tons of veggies and protein. Just skip the bread and croutons! If it’s any kind of Asian food restaurant, order a lunch special with meat and veggies, and skip the rice! Latin cuisine is easy: order a tostada…hold the sour cream and cheese, but say yes to the guacamole! People won’t even know you’re on a diet! AND you’ll be getting all your veggies!
We sincerely hope these strategies will help! We understand that time constraints can be real hurdles to eating vegetables. However, getting your veggies in is critical your health and weight loss goals. Set it and forget it with the steamer basket! Throw those fast food greens into hot soups and meals! Get those veggies in at work any way you can! You’ve got this!