When we get strapped for time and find ourselves eating on the run too often, getting back to healthy eating can seem like a real challenge. But small additions and changes can go a long way to packing more nutrients into each meal.
Here are 3 simple healthy eating tips:
1. Include Something Fresh and Green in Each Meal
I always have parsley on hand for this reason. If I’m short on fresh veggies or want an easy way to sneak some into the kids’ food, parsley comes to the rescue.
Curly parsley keeps well in the crisper, unlike its equally nutritious but more delicate brethren, cilantro. Not everybody likes cilantro anyway. You won’t offend anyone with parsley, which can be chopped and sprinkled onto or into just about everything. You can even safely keep it in the fridge at work to sprinkle on lunchtime takeout, with little chance of it being eaten by scavenging coworkers.
2. Pulses: Think Outside the Can
In case you haven’t heard, the UN General Assembly declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses. Beans and legumes are in the spotlight this year. Cans are often lined with plastic containing BPA, but buying dried beans and cooking them yourself is easy and less expensive than buying canned. Having cooked pulses on hand makes it easy to throw a handful into taco meat, a soup, salad or to whip up a quick batch of refried beans.
How to Cook and Freeze Legumes
There’s something about cooking and freezing my own legumes that I find very satisfying. Here’s a quick and dirty how to:
- Get a cup of two of your favorite legume (mine’s black turtle beans) and soak in water for 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain, then and add soaked beans to a pot well covered with fresh water.
- Add a 3-inch piece of kombu seaweed – this is optional but highly recommended to get a nice texture in the cooked beans. You can also add whole cloves of garlic, bay leaves or other herbs for seasoning.
- Cook for 45-90 minutes, until beans are tender.
- Drain, cool completely and freeze in plastic freezer bags.
A slow cooker is ideal for this project, cook on low for 8-12 hours or high for 6-8 hours.
3. Grow Sprouts
Instead of cooking you can easily sprout most legumes, which is equivalent to growing your own food. Growing sprouts is alchemy in the kitchen; it unlocks the potential of a dormant seed, transforming it into a small living plant.
How to Grow Your Own Sprouts
Invest in fancy sprouting equipment, if that excites you, or just use a large mason jar, cheesecloth and rubber band!
- Simply soak a half a cup of legumes overnight, drain and rinse.
- Use the rubber band to fasten the cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar and lay it on its side on a counter.
- Twice a day, rinse the beans and discard the water.
- In a few days, you’ll see signs of life!
Technically you can sprout any kind of bean, but mung beans are easy to start with. Once the sprouts reach the desired length keep them in the fridge and use them up within the week. Smaller sprouts may be tender enough to eat raw, some are best steamed or added to soups and other cooked food.