Thursday, May 9, 2013

Battle of the Bulge: It's Easy Being Green

One Sunday, as I was leisurely sautéing up my lunch, I casually glanced at the nutritional information on a bag of frozen spinach.
I did a double take. 

Come say WHAT now? 

One cup—which is quite a lot—is 30 calories. Three. Zero. For one brimming cup of frozen (meaning wiltingly compact) spinach

I quickly grabbed the bag of broccoli. 25 calories per cup.

My head was spinning with the ramifications of this new-found information. 

Over time I have converted the household grains to that of whole variety, but while whole wheat does mean better nutrition, calorie-wise it is not a freebie. A cup of pasta, cooked, can be 300+ calories.

Pretty much all grains or grain-like berries (barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quiona, cracked rye) are about 100-200 calories per 1/4 cup dry. I have to say, it doesn't inflate THAT much when cooked. 

It's not even as though I am a pasta person. I'm not. I'm actually a potato lover. While one sweet potato will leave me full, 1/4 cup of grain, cooked, leaves me rather unsatisfied.

Nutritionally, veggies blow grains out of the water, chock full of "phytochemicals"/"phytonutrients." While whole grains do contain phytochemicals, they don't have the variety veggies and fruits do.  

I started limiting my grain intake, carefully measuring them, whereas hedonistically piling on the vegetables, sighing with satiety. 

And boy did my scale thank me. 

I had read an article by Anna Thomas in Reader's Digest (linked here in Eating Well Magazine) about how she messily threw together a "green soup" one day, continued to slurp it down in the days following and the weight just . . . left

There is no "right" way to make green soup, except that the primary ingredients are, well, green (kale, spinach, peas, broccoli, asparagus, collards, etc.) An immersion blender comes in convenient use (it is really a great kitchen tool to have), or the soup can be left chunky.

Since I have never been a salad person (all that chewing, for goodness sake) I was happy to hear from Alton Brown that cooking (not too much cooking, mind you) releases the nutrition from foods, making it more accessible for bodily absorption. 
Nowadays I am leery of mindlessly chucking a half a box of pasta into a soup, but rather measure out carefully the amount of grains going in. Instead of making a primarily lukshen dish, I will utilize more vegetables and cook less pasta.

Go Kermit, go Kermit, go Kermit . . . 


Anonymous said...

Heh. Mehen's kitchen just posted how she makes kale Popsicles. The thought is beyond disturbing.

Princess Lea said...

That is still . . . gross. Kale in a soup, comouflaged by garlic, salt, onion, and pepper, is quite palatable. Not as a means to cleanse the palate.

shhh said...

Whenever you have a carb-craving, rice cakes are the way to go. depending on the brand, they are generally 15-40 calories a cake, and come in a variety of flavors: plain, sea salt, multigrain, brown rice, rye, sesame... Topped with anything from tomato, to tuna, to cream cheese to peanut butter, they're a yum crunch

Princess Lea said...

I don't want to demonize carbs, per-say; potatoes, for instance, don't get the boot here.

I still have my whole wheat grains in my breakfast cereal and the occasional soup (hull-less barley is delish), just that I monitor them and focus more on veggies.

I learned from Dr. Furhman that one can fulfill carb cravings with squash. I have been living on butternut squash soup for the last week (oh so good) and I haven't even given grains a glancing thought.