Lettuce Start the Day with a Salad
Gabe and I start each morning with a huge bowl of lettuce. We each eat about 4 or 5 heaping claw-fuls (shape hand into claw and pick up as much as you can) of chopped lettuce. The contents of our bowls are different, but we both stick with the same meal each morning because it creates a routine that is quick and easy to follow and I always know what I need to buy at the market. Gabe opts for red and green leaf lettuce with sliced or cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, celery, and a tablespoon of vinegar. My bowl contains red and green leaf lettuce with one tablespoon of nutritional yeast and half a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Sometimes we add nuts or seeds to the salad depending on whether we have a bagel or bread with coconut oil or nut butter. We have worked our way up to that amount and not everyone enjoys a big bowl of raw greens for breakfast, hence the increasingly popular green smoothie.
One of the reasons I like to start the day with a ton of lettuce is that it fills me up and gets my digestion going. Lettuce is comprised of mostly water and is a good source of vitamins and nutrients like vitamin K and chlorophyll. We have all heard that the darker the green, the better, and I say mix it up. Surprisingly Gabe’s favorite lettuce, iceberg, provides a good amount of choline. Lettuce barely has any fat or calories so we always add fat and protein to our breakfast to ensure we get enough fuel to get us through the morning. Our routine is green and red leaf in the morning, but we do add lots of other greens and lettuce during the day so that we eat a variety of the good stuff during the week. I plan meals around which greens and other produce looks the freshest at the market. Eating fruits and vegetables that are in season is one way to do this. I must admit though, I like the variety that is available throughout the seasons these days.
We eat at least 8 heads of lettuce a week just for breakfast. For lunch or dinner on days when I am in a hurry or we feel like we need a lighter meal I will split a head of romaine lettuce between the two of us and make the Classic Vegan Caesar With Avocado & Chickpeas from the Post Punk Kitchen website by Isa Chandra Moskowitz or I will throw a cup of beans on top of the salad and make a dressing which usually contains blended avocado, tahini, or soaked and blended cashews.
Always having rinsed, spun, and chopped greens on hand makes it easy for me to come up with a meal on the fly. I prep lettuce and any other greens I have as soon as I can when I return from the market.
There are many methods for cleaning greens, find what works for you. Remove tough outer leaves and the base parts of the leaves as they can be bitter. To clean the greens I fill a large bowl with water and a little distilled vinegar and swish the greens around to remove any dirt or bugs.
I rinse them well in fresh water. Then I use a salad spinner to remove excess water from the greens. You could also use a clean lint free towel and lay the leaves out flat on the towel and gently roll the towel up from one end so that the towel absorbs the water.
Removing as much water as possible will allow the cut greens to keep longer in the refrigerator. The more delicate the greens, like mustard greens and spinach, the drier you will want them to be before refrigerating them. I like to chop the lettuce or greens that have large or tough leaves (collard greens, kale, Swiss Chard, etc.) into bite size pieces. Then all I have to do is shovel some lettuce out of the container when I want a salad, sandwich, burrito, or wrap. Washed and cut collard greens, kale, or Swiss chard, and so on can be easily transferred from the fridge into a pot or pan if I want to sauté or steam them.
When we are traveling we will buy organic pre-washed greens. Our favorites being Organic Girl and Olivia’s Organics. When buying the packaged stuff make sure you take a good look at it from all sides. Choose a box that has dry, fresh looking greens throughout. Also smell it! If the plastic container allows air to pass through it, I smell it while gently squeezing the box. You will know if you smell rotting greens. Keeping them chilled will help keep them fresh.
Enjoy an assortment of greens any way you want throughout the week!