Yesterday I started a short and brief explanation of the third Eating Green principle. It was so short, I decided to extend it to a second blog post. Okay, fine, I went on a ridiculous tangent about Bamboo’s mischievous ways and the scary world of palm oil. But that’s out of my system, and I’m ready to really get into the nitty gritty of eating right for you and the planet.
In the previous principles, I make more of suggestions of eating less meat and practicing more or less a diet our ancestors, and our ancestors’ ancestors primarily ate. I advocate flexitarian and Paleo diets because they have shown to be the best balance of both healthy and environmental. But I’m also flexible in how much someone practices these principles because some people cannot fully practice Paleo or vegan. For the most part, I am usually all about doing what you can to make a difference.
For the third principle, I’m not so nice.
I want this drilled into your skull. Processed foods from the big food companies are gross. They aren’t real food. They are horrible for you, and they are horrible for the environment.
The best foods for you and for the planet are whole, unprocessed foods. As we’ll later learn, too, these foods are generally unpackaged, sold as one item. They are one ingredient, just themselves.
Forgoing the plastic packaging is becoming quite the hot topic as of late. With straw bans and plastic bag bans, and now even plastic water bottle bans hitting a few cities, we are starting to take notice of the amount of waste around us. Well, at least I am starting to notice. And wanting to do my part, I try to opt out of the packaged foods, which includes most processed foods.
Rather than buy the seasoned boxed meals full of sodium, high fructose corn syrup, and yes, the dreaded palm oil, I like to create my own dishes from whole fruits, veggies, and herbs. It tastes better, and I promise you it’s so much better for your body.
The whole foods I’m talking about are the foods found in nature. Not a whole pizza, although, that’s hilarious, and if you practice the last principle of learning a little more about food, you can make your own pizza with simple, whole ingredients. And it will taste better. And be better for you. And you’ll appreciate it a helluva lot more because you made it from scratch yourself rather than just buying one already made.
Whole foods are your fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, meats, grains, and even occasionally some dairy products which have not been processed with added ingredients. They are your unrefined grains and sugars. If chemicals, preservatives, or flavors have been added before it goes on a supermarket shelf, it’s processed.
Processed foods don’t contain near as much nutritional value as clean, whole foods. Even if the packaging claims it is healthier, with added nutrients, it’s not as good as the real thing. Not to mention there’s the whole palm oil thing.
I know giving up certain foods we have come to know and love can be difficult. But once you get into the habit of eating these whole foods, you will soon find what you missed was not nearly as fulfilling as you thought they were. That was just the Big Food Companies tricking your brain with tons of sugar and other chemicals.
Big Food Companies don’t care about you, or your health. They care about their precious dollar, and what they can do to get you to eat their products. That’s why they spend hordes of money on advertising, not on quality ingredients. When we choose the healthier option of eating whole foods, we are sticking it to the Man, and who doesn’t love sticking it to the Man?
Eating whole, unprocessed foods is interchangeable with several other principles. That’s the general idea of Eating Green. All these healthy habits coexist nicely, helping you achieve your fitness goals, and impacting the earth in positive ways.
Here are a few of my favorite meals using whole ingredients:
Sweet Potato Hash 2 servings- 318 calories, Carbs: 49.2g, Fat: 7.2g, Protein: 8.1g
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry up bacon until almost cooked.
- Remove bacon and cut into pieces. Add sweet potato to greased pan and cook for 3 minutes. Add bacon back into pan, cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Pour maple syrup into hash mixture and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring.
- Sprinkle salt or pepper to taste and serve.
Sweet Sunset Salad 4 servings- 218 calories, Carbs: 43 g, Fat 4 g, Protein: 4.1 g
- 6 medium red beet, peeled and cut into chunks
- 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- ½ tsp each garlic powder and salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp agave nectar
- 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 red onion, chopped
- Optional- 2 c brussels sprouts, quartered
- Toss beets with 1 Tbsp olive oil so they are coated. Place remaining olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and nectar with the sweet potatoes and onions in a separate container. Shake up container to coat.
- Transfer vegetables to a baking sheet. Add Brussels sprouts if using. Place in oven and set temperature for 400 F. Bake 35 minutes, and turn off oven for 10 minutes of passive baking. Potatoes and beets should be soft.
Rosemary Balsamic Chicken 2 Servings- 186 calories, Carbs:3g, Fat:6g,Protein:22g
- 10 oz boneless chicken breast or tenderloins
- 1 Tbsp rosemary
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Preheat large skillet over medium heat. Brush or swirl olive oil in pan to coat surface
- Add chicken to pan. Saute for 2 minutes on each side. Sprinkle rosemary over chicken and add vinegar. Continue cooking for 5-8 minutes, or until chicken is browned, turning chicken over once.
Acorn Squash 2 servings- 114 calories; Carbs 29.5g, Fat 0.2g, Protein 1.7g
- 1 acorn squash
- ½ cup applesauce
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground ginger
- Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds
- Lightly grease a shallow pan and place squash halves cut side up.
- Spread applesauce, cinnamon, and ginger evenly over meaty part and bowl of squash
- Set oven to 350 F. Place squash halves in oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until squash is fork-tender.
Explore your options and have some fun with your meals.