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Abrazos! xox Penny

Monday, September 6, 2010

Surprise, Surprise...

Today is a great day. Not only is it Labor Day, my son's UnBirthday and Meatless Monday but it is also the start of a 21 day wellness challenge that me and 65,000 of my closest friends signed up for. I am psyched because just by a healthy stroke of luck, I get to go hear some of the organizers of this wellness project in person in late September. On paper, it looks like an amazing program full of tasty, healing foods and I am really excited to go through it then share all I have learned with you. Because I will also be traveling, I am sure I will have to make a few tweaks which will just add to the fun.

There are three things about becoming a more plant-based eater, even for one day a week like on Meatless Monday, that are pretty much "rites of passage". You have to go through them to get to the good stuff or even to get excited about creating a dish for Meatless Monday, especially if your first experience is situation number 1.

1. When you order out and there is a "veggie option" on the menu, often it is a plate of soggy steamed vegetables. I already showed you a picture of one of my first meals eating out as a veg. Nothing is a bigger taste turn off than soggy, overcooked, frozen broccoli and cauliflower and because a lot of people eat out at lunch, this could be their first veggie "meal". Ick. That is not a meal, just a very sad and discouraging intro into the Plant Kingdom.

2. On other veggie options, there is an overflow of cheese. Suddenly, people want to put it on and in a gooey blanket of sticky lava everywhere. Cheese has issues of its own and eating lots of it brings those home to your body. A little goes a long way.

3. You get asked the question or think it to yourself, "Well, how do you get your protein?" Because the answer to this will also solve situation two, I am going to show you a couple of charts from books so that you can move on and thoroughly enjoy today's recipe.

For situation 1, make today's recipe instead. Enjoy it at your Labor day celebration and make extra to "brown bag" tomorrow's lunch.  Serve this salad with some hummus, a few whole grain crackers or maybe stuffed grape leaves and gorgeous piece of fruit. Now, you have a meal worth eating! The recipe is from my mom whom I am heading over the river and through the woods, lots of them, to see.

Click on the pictures and you will see in the first picture (with so cute mini cauliflowers!) that broccoli  trumps sirloin steak in the protein department. In a 100 calorie portion, there are 11.2 grams of protein in broccoli compared to 5.4 grams in sirloin.  In the second picture, there is a group of veggie proteins used and a group of animal proteins used as well for the comparison.

The bottom line is that there is plenty of protein in whole, plant-based foods. As long as you eat a variety of vegetables supported by legumes and beans, seeds and nuts, these plant-based food groups provide a wonderful blend of protein, enough for any person to maintain good strong cells and muscle mass. Surprised? Honestly I was, especially by broccoli and thrilled, more worry out the window and one more piece of peace on the table. For a more detailed discussion of the amino acids present, "high and low" quality proteins and plant-based vs. animal-based protein benefits, read The China Study. It is listed in Our Little Green Book.

Mom's Lemon Broccoli Salad 

1 bunch broccoli
slivered lemon rind
toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette

Wash broccoli well. It can be quite sandy. Cut off tough stems and separate into bite-sized flowerets. Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch broccoli pieces for about 4 minutes, or until tender-crisp and still bright green. Quickly remove from boiling water and drop into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain well, squeezing excess water out. Wrap in paper or cloth towels and refrigerate.

Make vinaigrette by combining in a glass jar: 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1 clove garlic (minced), 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 teaspoon oregano and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Beat in 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Shake well to mix.

To serve salad: Mix broccoli with dressing and sprinkle with slivered lemon rind and coarsely chopped toasted walnuts. Serves 4.

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