The Number 1 Way to Make Sure You Eat Your Greens First

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We all know the person that brings the same lunch to work or school every day. Many people do this, after all. Maybe this person happens to be you. Humans are creatures of habit and what we eat each day is no different than any other habit that overcomes our brains.

Do you grab a banana for breakfast every day because you love bananas and they are quick and easy to consume on the run? Or how about that same cereal you purchase week after week at the grocery store because you believe it to be your favorite cereal? The reality is that most of us consume the same foods on a regular basis not only out of convenience, but also because humans are suckers for routine.

Brain Power

Science corroborates this intuitive hunch that we are apt to form habits without deliberate thought that we are doing so. Researchers have even located an area of the brain responsible for habit formation. Our tendencies to eat the same foods all the time occurs when a region of our brains called the basal ganglia lights up and says, “Hey dude (or dudette), I see that you are eating this food all the time. I’m going to make this behavior automatic so that the decision-making part of your brain can go to sleep.” Our basal ganglias want to make our lives more convenient. How nice of them!

Well, this can work against us if we get addicted to, say, cookie dough, but it can also work in our favor and get us to make healthier eating choices. Living a healthy lifestyle and eating more fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds becomes that much easier when we give ourselves a chance to make eating them a habit. I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine (who is as obsessed with eating green vegetables as much as I am), that we automatically eat the green vegetables off our plates first without thinking about it. We crave greens and a meal without a good salad or kale dish just doesn’t sit well with us. We have successfully programmed our brains to desire healthy foods, and we chose these foods almost effortlessly when we venture to restaurants or prepare meals in our homes.

Training Time

The fantastic news is that becoming like me and my friend isn’t that hard to do, nor does it take a long period of time. Ample research has shown that when our taste buds don’t have access to the foods they usually love, they begin to love the foods they’re with. As creatures of habit, we enjoy foods that we are used to eating. However, when we change the foods we are accustomed to and give our taste buds a bit of time, the new foods become preferred.

How long does it take to form new food cravings and cultivate new eating habits? Remarkably, scientific studies show that this process takes as little as two weeks. If you begin to make green juices for yourself every day for two weeks, you’ve got a new habit on your hands. Preparing those green juices for yourself may seem tedious for the first week or so, but after the two week mark, you might just start to crave those green drinks like most of us begin to crave the sunshine after a long, dreary winter. While preparing green juices for myself every day is not something I’ve cultivated as a habit (yet!), I can say that my craving for green vegetables with my meals is a habit that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I love the taste of kale, spinach, bok choy, and lettuce because I’ve made the decision to eat these foods often.

Additionally, if you begin to reduce your exposure to oil, salt, sugar, and all foods that come in packages and at fast food restaurants, in roughly two weeks, you will not be missing those old foods or flavors. My taste buds never experience the taste of potato chips or hamburgers, so I will continue to view them in the same categories as I view a piece of cardboard or plastic. They don’t even look like food to me!

Healthy lifestyle choices really do become easier once we make them a part of our daily routine. When we educate ourselves about the importance of incorporating plant foods into our lives for disease-prevention and optimal health and we possess the knowledge that we begin to crave the foods we are used to eating, then making a permanent change towards a more plant-based diet doesn’t seem as scary. Now who wants to start drinking green juice out of wine glasses with me and make this a new habit?

This post was originally featured on VegNews.com. Thanks VegNews!

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Check out this mouth-watering, easy breezy way I adore eating my greens! It’s convenient, takes no more than 10 minutes to throw together, and because I used a mix of fresh veggies from the farmer’s market and frozen organic veggies (but then defrosted and heated, but of course!), it is ridiculously inexpensive to prepare. There is a vegan “cheese” sauce that you can’t really see, yet it plays a powerful role in enhancing the flavor and adding a splash of creamy consistency to every bite! I added my favorite kale chips for a kick of scrumptious spice too. It’s one of the fastest meals I prepare on a regular basis, but it’s also one of the most satisfying to my taste buds! There is wild mushrooms in this, broccoli, snow peas, whole wheat noodles and black (fermented) garlic. Woohoo! CLICK HERE to read about the health benefits of black garlic. Black garlic takes the already enormous health benefits of regular garlic to a whole new immune boosting level!

I use Amy’s Kitchen vegan mac & soy cheese, but you can use any vegan mac and cheese. If you are feeling ambitious, you might even want to prepare your own! This is a fantastic vegan mac and cheese recipe that I’ve made many times, but sometimes you just want delicious food and you want it quickly (hence the love of Amy’s Kitchen cheesy goodness)!

My favorite kale chips are Lydia’s Organics Kale Krunchies, but they are a bit pricy even though they are packed with crunchy flavor and are a perfect addition to soups, salads and other veggie dishes like this one. Even though I love Lydia’s Organics Kale Chips, let’s get real for a moment. There are SO MANY delicious kale chips on the market, it’s kind of ridiculous. Now, you may or not be a kale chip person. My theory is that either you love them or you hate them. It’s like durian fruit. Some people adore them and others loathe them. Even if you are of the latter sort and don’t love kale chips, they still make a tasty addition to many vegetable dishes. Sometimes it is simply a matter of taste testing and trial and error! Here are a few other brands I can eat in one sitting and call it a scrumptiously satisfying component of a meal or superb snack.

1) Brad’s Raw Leafy Kale Chips 2) Kid’s Gone Raw Kale Chips 3) Alive and Radiant Kale Krunch Superfood w/ Spirulina and Chia Seeds 4) Alive and Radiant Kale Krunch Quite Cheezy 

If you want to prepare your own kale chips, check out THIS LINK!

This is the recipe, but I encourage you not to follow it exactly! This recipe was meant to be broken! Throw in any of your favorite veggies and make this dish even more mouth-watering to your unique taste buds and vegetable preferences.

Ingredients

2 cloves black garlic, peeled (optional)
2 cups fresh or frozen broccoli
2 cups fresh or frozen snow peas
2 cups fresh or frozen spinach
1-2 cups fresh or frozen mushrooms of choice (only edible mushrooms, but of course! toxic mushrooms are never a wise move)
1 package of your favorite kale chips, crumbled into bite sized pieces
1 package of your favorite frozen vegan mac and cheese, heated in the microwave

If using fresh veggies add (not necessary if using all frozen veggies):

3-4 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
1/2 cup water

Directions (very, very easy directions!)

If using all frozen veggies:

In a large bowl, mix black garlic (if using), kale chips and warm mac and cheese. Add microwaved (defrosted and warmed) veggies and stir in with vegan mac and “cheese” and kale chips. Wondering if cooking in the microwave is safe?! CLICK HERE to read why it is!

If using fresh veggies:

Sauté veggies on medium heat in small or medium sized pan. Use 1/2 cup water to water sauté 3-4 cloves of regular garlic and 1/2 yellow or white chopped onion. Stir frequently and after about 5 minutes the onions will soften. At this point, add any other veggies you want to eat in the cheesy, kale chip filled stir fry! Add kale chips and warmed mac and “cheese” upon completion of cooking all of the veggies. The veggies should be finished after about 5-10 minutes of cooking on medium heat. If necessary, add a few tablespoons more water.

Enjoy!

One Comment

  1. Avatar Cate says:

    I made this today. It is soooo good! New favorite!

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