Lean and Green
“You gotta eat your greens.” -Too many people
Those of you who know me know I’m not really the preaching type. I believe that it’s great for people to share their ideas and what works for them, but, ultimately, it’s up to you to make your own choices and figure out your own balance in life. So by bringing up the following discussion, I’m hoping it at least gets you thinking about how you eat and maybe gives you some ideas, but do what makes you feel good. (Nah…that didn’t sound preachy at all…)
I try to make it a point to eat as many greens and vegetables as I can lately. It’s become a fairly regular habit of mine to assemble quick salads because it incorporate lots of nutrients, visually appears like a lot of food, and, done right, can be low on calories. I’m not huge on micromanaging calories, but, ultimately, the numbers are what they are.
If you’re taking in more calories than you burn through basal metabolism and exercise, you’re going to gain weight. If you’re taking in less, you’re going to lose weight. Again, it is what it is.
My approach toward my own diet is to be more restrictive during the week and to sort of splurge on the weekends. When I say restrictive, I mean I’m not eating calorie rich things like pizza and chicken wings (for the most part). I do eat 6 or 7 times a day, and I’ve learned the balance and size of meals I need to have this mesh with my own fitness goals. The salads I’ve been eating recently have really helped keep the hunger between meals at bay while keeping at a small caloric deficiency.
But in the past few weeks, I guess because I’m getting used to salads, I’ve been having them on weekends when I usually eat indulgent stuff. Not shockingly, I’ve talked about the great deal of success I’ve had with my weight in recent weeks. With the right preparation, I could mentally envision a salad being a splurge, and that helps keep me motivated and on track with all the exercise I’m putting in.
My daily “lunch” consists of a big bed of spring greens, a hard boiled egg, about 1/3 cup of cooked quinoa and edamame, cherry tomatoes, some blue cheese, and about a tablespoon of my own emulsified Dijon balsamic dressing. This, I’ll admit, doesn’t sound like a splurge at all, and is really a means of getting me a lot of the macro nutrients I need to get me through my day.
A more attractive salad I like to eat regularly is a “taco salad.” I make a batch of taco meat with grass fed beef (it has less fat than the usual stuff — I’d really be using bison if it wasn’t $3 more a pound). Onto a big bed of spring greens, I’ll throw a couple of ounces of the beef, the same of black beans, a little shredded cheese, some tomatoes, a small dollop of sour cream, and I’ll crumble a few Late July Organic tortilla chips on top. I go to town with a bottle of hot sauce. Delicious.
I’m also keen on tossing a small piece of cooked salmon, a small mixture of fruit (peaches, berries, plums, etc), some avocado, almonds, and lemon juice over a big bed of greens.
Then, there’s the special occasion salad. On a Friday night, after a long day of work, a Focusmaster session, and a long DDPYoga workout, I decided I wanted a huge meal. Actually, I wanted a gyro. And I came up with a way to cheat a little and still capture the essence of the gyro experience in a salad.
Thanks to some dill from a co-worker’s garden and a cucumber from a different co-worker’s garden, I was able to whip together a greek yogurt tzatziki “sauce” (I prefer mine really thick hence the quotation marks). I griddled up a nice bison NY strip steak (which was probably about 4-5 oz). I added both of these to a humongous bed of greens (tossed with olive oil and lemon juice) along with some R&G Feta Cheese, some tomatoes, and some sliced onion.
It wasn’t exactly like biting into a gyro with chewy pita bread, but it certainly hit most of the flavors and definitely hit the spot that night. Having all the greens to eat away from really makes it feel fulfilling. Of course I loaded up the toppings, too, but you gotta remember that this salad was supposed to be a bit of a cheat.
Washing it all down with a huge bottle of Tejava (probably my favorite bottled iced tea) was awesome too.
So relaying back to the original point, getting creative about using greens is crucial if you want to keep them in your diet and take your progress to the next level. The season for it is dwindling down right now, but you’ll see some truly great greens at your local farmers markets and even supermarkets; don’t make me eat them all…