I’ve felt the need lately to simplify my meals. I’ve also had some requests from people I know who have been feeling overwhelmed with the task of adopting healthier eating habits, and just want some easy ideas for plant-based dishes that can be made in a flash. Trust me, I get it. I, too, feel burnt out in the kitchen from time to time, and healthy food and cooking is my passion! Whenever I’m feeling this way, I know it’s time to simplify.
My next three posts are going to feature super simple, yet highly nutritious vegetable dishes with only three ingredients or less, and only 15 minutes or less of active prep/cook time. I’ll also share some ideas to make these dishes a full meal by adding just a few more ingredients. Not only are these dishes easy, but they’ll add a little pizzazz to your weeknight and get you out of that stressed, “I don’t know what to make,” “healthy eating is too haarrrd,” rut.
My first recipe is an easy saute using one of my favorite greens, Swiss chard. Rainbow chard is several of the colorful varieties of Swiss chard sold together in a bunch. Apparently I ended up with more red than anything else, as you can see by the photos, but rainbow chard usually includes large leafy greens with white, orange, and yellow stalks. Swiss chard is a wondrous nutritional powerhouse, and according to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, it is an excellent source of 9 vital nutrients:
- Vitamin K
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Swiss Chard is also a great source of fiber, B vitamins, calcium, protein, zinc, and selenium. These vitamins and minerals are essential for strong healthy bones (vitamin K, calcium, magnesium). They are also important for strong, healthy growing hair, and clear, glowing, youthful skin. I’ve been reading a lot about magnesium recently, and what an amazing mineral it is for health. Everything from hair loss, hormone imbalance, fatigue, blood sugar balance, bone health and mood can be improved by getting adequate amounts of magnesium. Most Americans are falling short of their requirements for magnesium on a daily basis. Just cup of cooked chard supplies nearly 40% of your daily needs.
Swiss chard’s colorful appearance gives you a clue to it’s antioxidant capacities. It is a fabulous supply of numerous phytonutrients, in fact I could use up an entire post (or two) just talking about the antioxidant properties of chard. Suffice to say these antioxidants are capable of some pretty amazing things; such as fighting those rascally free radicals, controlling blood sugar, reducing inflammation, and detoxifying the body. Yesssss, we want this!
Sautéed Swiss chard tossed with a little fresh garlic and olive oil is such a tasty way to enjoy this dark leafy green. The leaves cook up tender and flavorful, while the stem is crunchy, similar to celery. I think it is one of the tastiest greens to saute, it has a great texture and mild taste that I believe any person leery of greens would enjoy.
You can easily make this a meal by serving with cooked quinoa and some smoky shiitake mushrooms. Just toss sliced shiitake mushroom with a splash of tamari or liquid aminos, and a couple shakes of smoked paprika. Saute until carmelized. So good and so simple. Instead of mushrooms, you could slice thin strips of tempeh and cook the same way, for a super simple tempeh “bacon.” If you have more time, these greens are delicious as part of a veggie bowl with baked sweet potatoes, fresh veggies (like sliced radishes, carrots), leftover cooked quinoa or rice, and sliced avocado. Sometimes I make a quick tahini dressing (tahini mixed with a little sea salt, lemon juice, and water) to pour over the whole thing.
Try not to get stressed about cooking and eating healthily, and if you do, remember that sometimes it’s good to get right back down to basics and then build upon that. You can make a nutritious, whole-food, plant based meal with just a handful of ingredients. Simple can be so delicious!
Sautéed Rainbow Swiss Chard and Garlic
- 1 bunch of chard, any variety, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 2 tsp good quality olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
In a large wok or saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat, add the chard and cook, using a large spoon or tongs to stir and toss the greens. After about a minute or two add the garlic, I just press mine right into the pan. Continue cooking a couple more minutes, moving the greens and garlic around the pan frequently until the greens have softened and brightened in color and the garlic has become golden. I don’t like my chard to get too wilted and soggy, I find they are delicious when tender but still maintaining their form.
Optional: Top with a drizzle of lemon juice, and sprinkle of hemp seeds or sesame seeds
What is your favorite green, and how do you enjoy it?