convenience veg + a protein packed lunch

convenience kale

Every time I go to a new country I am always curious to see how the grocery stores are different from back home. One of the biggest differences here in the Netherlands is the size of the produce department in comparison to the rest of the grocery store. More accurately – there are less processed food aisles. You all know the rule right? Shop only on the perimeter of the grocery store! (Check this video from Michael Pollan).

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a fair share of junky fast foods in the Netherlands…(um have you heard about fast food from the wall?). Yeah…don’t ask, don’t try…I made that mistake 5 years ago on my first visit to the Netherlands (before I knew anything about healthy food).One of the main things I noticed in the relatively large produce departments is that a significant section is dedicated to what I call “convenience vegetables”. You know, pre-washed greens, pre-chopped broccoli, mini carrots, those kinds of things. In fact, it is rare to buy kale here in it’s whole big leaves, thick stem “normal” form. Occasionally they offer it this way at the farmers market, but most often it comes pre-washed, de-veined, chopped into tiny little bits, and ready to eat. I am most definitely not complaining, I do believe whole and as natural as possible is best, but since discovering ‘convenience kale’ I have to say my consumption has at least doubled. I kid you not, I have been scarfing that stuff straight from the bag…and it is damn good (for real). I must add that kale is an incredible source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and fibre…it’s basically every nutritionist’s favorite leafy green. (Have you seen “Shit Nutritionists Say”?)

Making your own convenience veggies is something I have always recommended to my clients. Buy fresh, local, organic produce (whenever possible), bring it home, wash and chop it so that it is ready to eat when you are hungry. If you come home starving and making a salad means you wont be eating for 15-20 minutes, then chips and dip are going to be all that much more appealing. On the other hand, if you have veggies and convenience kale all ready to go, your salad is in your mouth within minutes. Or you can dip your convenience veggies into hummus, or kale pesto (recipe coming). This makes achieving the seemingly unachievable 5-10 cups of veggies a day a breeze.

Now, don’t go whining about how your veggies aren’t going to last. Buy what you need for a few days, eat them fast (and you will if they are ready to go!), then go back to the grocery store to re-stock.

Marinated Tempeh & Portobello Mushrooms Salad

Now here is one of my favorite convenience kale recipes for your eating pleasure. Ever since I taught a raw pie making class with the lovely Lindsey from Tasty Living, I have fallen in love with a new snack – marinated portobello mushrooms (it was a raw pizza pie – ew can you imagine them in a dessert pie?). I have since turned this snack and my oh so handy dandy convenience veggies, into one of my favorite high protein lunches.

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product, I want to say “like tofu” but it is really much different, actually better, in consistency, taste, texture and nutritional profile (personally, I am not a big fan of tofu – I much prefer superior fermented soy). To find tempeh you will likely have to visit your local health foods store. You must marinate tempeh, like you would meat, and it will be incredible (cooked or raw). If not, you probably aren’t going to like it. The marinade below is so quick, easy, and delicious.

Fermented soy, like miso and tempeh, has the added benefit of adding good bacteria to your gut, it is higher in protein than non fermented soy, and is easier to digest. Remember, soy is often genetically modified, so you must buy it organic!

Marinated Portobello Mushrooms & Tempeh

1 block tempeh, chopped into 1-2 cm cubes
2 portobello mushrooms
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (acv)
2 tbsp GF tamari (or Bragg – but I cant find it in the Netherlands :( )
1 – 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
2 tsp dried basil
1-2 cloves raw garlic, chopped (optional but delightful and bad bacteria killing)

Mix together in a stainless steel or glass bowl and let sit for 8-12 hours.

….and the rest of the salad

1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 red or other bell pepper, chopped
2-4 cups kale – or “convenience kale”

Add the rest of the ingredients, toss and use the left over marinade as a dressing (add more evoo, acv, and tamari if needed).

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