a good start is to shop seasonal and local produce, whenever possible. the benefit of eating seasonal vegetable and fruit is the ‘excitement factor’: because the time frame for consumption is limited, seasonal produce makes you anticipate, longingly, its arrival on the markets. like, the first asparagus that i see in march usually asks for a little feast. local also means you get food that was harvested when already ripe and good to eat, and while you get it it’s still fresh, and thus the nutrients are still ‘intact’ (or whatever). plus, whenever i go shopping, my basic rule of thumb is to at least buy 2/3 fresh produce (i.e. unprocessed, raw goods, like vegetable and fruit). it’s pretty simple: we eat what’s at home. so if you buy brocoli – you’re likely to eat that brocoli (out of a lack of alternatives – unless you find your safely hidden secret stash of sweets… then you’re just up to no good and i can’t help you, clearly).
2. follow ‘the 3g formula’
next, you have to think of a way to prepare your fresh, seasonal, local produce. it doesn’t always have to be a complicated recipe or a proper ‘dish’ at all – but i realize that’s where a lot of people need support: in the recipe and inspiration department. i let you in on a secret: my way of cooking is totally simple. in fact, i often find myself just throwing togetter a few basics. what i always check is my so called ‘the 3 g formula’ (okay, i totally just made that up right now, but it makes sense anyway): greens, grains and garnish. that’s really the secret formula to quick, fuss-free and healthy eating. ‘3g’ means you combine a grain (like rice, wheat, quinoa, buckwheat, bulgur, barley or freekeeh) then prepare your basic greens (vegs in any shape, like romanesco, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, chard, leeks, heirloom tomatoes, peas, beans) and think of ways to add a twist. that’s what i call the garnish, it can be a few things you toss in or a special spice mix or a dressing. toss everything together – and you’re done! healthy meal in no time. the major plus: you get to prepare and precook the grains in advance, for later use, and store it in the fridge or freezer. that saves a lot of time.
3. experiment with new preparation methods
when it comes to vegs preparation, i’m fuss-free, because i like them any possible way: steamed, blanched, baked, roasted, grilled, sauteed, julienned, fried, pureed or raw – any way at all. to always steam them, sure, it’s healthy, and it can be really delicious (but mostly very bland…). there will come the day when you will want some change… so in order to stick to a healthy diet, variety is key! try new methods. you like your snow peas steamed? try frying them! i usually blanch my asparagus, sometimes i fry it – but somehow i’ve never roasted it before (strange, considering i’ve roasted everything from artichokes to turnips…). but now, i especially like it roasted, as it renders the texture unexpectedly crunchy, gives it a nutty taste and is just so much more surprising. it’s like it’s enhanced, by some strange formula. therefore my advice for the vegetable preparation: try a new method, you can’t really make anything wrong. and if you don’t know what to do with your veg on hand, just try roasting it; it’s fool proof.
4. stock up your pantry
don’t put yourself under pressure to always only eat healthily. it’s all in the mix! feel free to add sausage slices to your stir-fry! or heavy cream to your vegetable gratin! it won’t kill you, so relax! if everything else ‘makes sense’, then a few greasy calories won’t hurt you. the main goal is to make healthy eating fun. it’s a good feeling to avoid pre-cooked or overly processed foods – because in my opinion that’s really the opposite of healthy – whenever possible. but if you follow these 5 simple rules, healthy eating should be peanuts (you see, i didn’t even say ‘piece of cake’… my system is already programmed for healthy eating, ahem).