Simplicity (and Braised Cabbage): The Key to Maintaining a Healthy Diet
It’s the second week of January. This means those of you who made New Year’s resolutions to “get healthier” are (hopefully) still on track, but by now, you’re realizing that following through on this resolution isn’t as easy as proclaiming it on New Year’s Day. You’re realizing that cooking your food takes time. Exercising takes time. Planning healthy meals takes time. And with the kids back in school, errands to run, a million extracurricular activities to chauffeur the kids to/from, picky eaters in the family, and a house that would fall into chaos without at least some attempt at a cleaning intervention, and for many of us, this pesky thing in the daytime called a job, sometimes it can become way too overwhelming, causing us to reach for the nearest quick-and-easy solution to dinner. Which all too often means something processed and unhealthy.
I know that I fall into the habit of trying to plan too much. I am a fan of meal planning, and will sit down once a week and plan out meals for the following week. I’ll cook something most every evening for dinner, sticking to the plan, but inevitably, as I look at what I’ve written, come Thursday evening, when I’ve reached the epitome of exhaustion (does anyone else find Thursdays to be particularly tiring?), I’ve planned something that takes 15 ingredients to chop, slice, and prep, and an hour’s worth of complicated cooking time. I had the best of intentions, but when I’m already stretched thin, it’s just too much.
The key? To keep it simple. Simple doesn’t have to mean processed, and it certainly doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. Simplicity in meals, for me, means just a handful of ingredients and straightforward preparation. I don’t want to overwhelm my brain at the end of a long day – and I rarely have that much time. So I keep it short and sweet – many times, our weeknight dinners consist of:
- some sort of quick-cooking protein (baked fish, pan-seared chicken breast, a steak or lamb chops – using this super-speedy method)
- a veggie or two, often steamed, quickly sautéed - such as this swiss chard, or baked. Or braised, as was the case for this cabbage.
Cabbage is one of the humblest of vegetables, isn’t it? It’s inexpensive, and it’s unassuming. But don’t let a humble vegetable and a simple preparation mean that this dish is any less enjoyable. To me, braised cabbage is a delicious comfort food – one that fits into your budget, time constraints, and healthy diet. When cooked this way, it’s subtly sweet, and meltingly tender. Even better? It’s hardly a recipe; more of a technique. You can have it cooking and barely pay attention to it, leaving you time to focus on the rest of your meal, which now could be done in enough time to get on with the rest of that “to do” list.
Gosh, that humble cabbage can help you keep your “get healthy” resolution. Who’da thunk it?
What are some simple foods that are helping you keep that resolution?
1-2 T fat of choice (grass-fed butter, coconut oil, vegan butter, etc. – I used coconut oil)
1 large head white cabbage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat butter/oil over medium heat in a large, heavy stockpot or dutch oven. Add the cabbage and stir.
- Cover and allow to cook for about 10 minutes, removing the lid and stirring every 2 minutes or so, until the cabbage has softened and leaves have wilted. (I like to keep a little bit of firmness in the ribs of the leaves, but it’s up to you how “done” you want your cabbage.)
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Alta Mantsch is the author of Tasty Eats At Home, a food blog dedicated to tasty gluten and dairy-free recipes, foods, and living, and is a Community Leader at the Udi’s Gluten Free Living Community Forum.