The Vessel: Think Outside the Bread
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be about flavourless, textureless replacements, hungry, empty stomachs and hours and hours of cook time. In fact, healthy eating for me is just as fast if not faster to prepare than a lot of that unhealthy crap, and is also full of flavour and makes me full. You just have to realize that everything you love can be modified with healthier, more natural choices that will surprise and satisfy.
Essentially every food you eat has a carrying vessel to get it from the plate to your mouth; sometimes this vessel is healthy and has no negative affect on your health, such as a spoon or fork. Other times, this vessel takes something that is potentially healthy and sabotages it, adding empty calories, sugar, a false sense of satiety, and a perpetual craving for salt and carbs. Examples of this are pasta to sauce, rice to stir fry veg, bread to meat, pita to sandwich, etc. If we just focus our thinking on different and delicious ways to carry food from table to tongue, we can mimic much of the same actions for eating certain kinds of food, and I find the way we interact with our food plays a role in how we enjoy food and the art of eating.
What do I mean? Read on, good friend, read on…
-rip the stems out of mushroom caps, large or small, (my faves are cremini) and stuff with tuna salad/cheese or spinach and feta and bake for 15min on 350
-core out sweet or green peppers, careful not to nick the sides, and stuff with a delicious meat and veg mix or omelette mix. Fill 3/4 way, bake on 350 for 10-15min, top with grated cheese of choice, and bake 10 more minutes.
-hollow out tomatoes with flatter bottoms and rounder shapes and eat raw filled with your favourite salad, diced into small cubes instead of being in inch-sized pieces.
-make shooter glasses out of cucumbers by cutting 2 inch thick pieces and hollowing out the seeds almost to the bottom. Fill with hummus, your favourite dip, or nuts and nut butter for a great party app. Or if you are forced to, fill half of them with tequila and half with Clamato juice and give ‘er a go.
-take the skin off of and the seed out of an avocado. Fill with sauteed spinach and onions, and then crack an egg into each half. Bake in oven for 7-10 minutes to enjoy a great breakfast dish, and eliminate the need for toast
-Top spaghetti squash with your favourite pasta sauces…it works just as well. Cut spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds, and season with salt, pepper and olive oil. Bake in the oven flesh-side down at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until squash is soft. Remove from skin by pulling out “noodles” with a fork, and voila!
-Instead of topping rice with stir fry, top beans, legumes, or more instead. I like using jarred chick peas or extra broccoli and cauliflower as a filling substitute.
-Make fajitas, wraps, pitas etc. even healthier with lettuce wraps. Boston Bibb lettuce (the kind growing out of the dirt in its’ container) works best. Break off the leaves from the base and top with whatever, wrap and eat. Belgian endive works well for this also, but is very bitter and may not please your palette.
And the list goes on, from cucumber and sweet pepper sandwich “bread” to cauliflower “steaks” and zucchini “noodles”, replacing evils like white flour, potatoes, and rice with good for you tasty vegetables that enhance and compliment flavours is a great way to eat more veggies and still eat “pizza” and “sandwiches”. Don’t think they’ll make you full? Have seconds…have thirds…if consuming extra veg is what it takes to make you full, your body will thank you.