There is something undeniably comforting about a large plate covered with food. Perhaps it activates some ancient circuit within our central nervous system that decides that food is plentiful and times are good. Restaurants have known this for a long time; they've been making fortunes selling us comfort in the form of plate-fulls of cheap and nutrient-poor starch.
If you're proportioning your food as dictated by the Zone diet but haven't turned to Paleo-friendly foods, you probably haven't experienced a full plate in a while. Three tablespoons (one block of carbs) of rice just don't cover that much real estate on your plate, especially when compared to a cup and a quarter of cooked collard greens (also one block of carbs).
But the pleasures of a full plate go beyond our natural desire to be well-fed. Mealtime is culture time, one of the only times during the day when we settle down for conversation and pleasure. A good meal should linger and serve as a daily opportunity to sit in the presence of family and friends.
So, cover your plates with something nutritious, turn on some music, light a candle or two, and celebrate life with the people you love over a nutritious and bountiful meal. The health benefits of doing this regularly will extend far beyond your blood lipids and body composition.
On a related note, check out Michael Pollan's New York Times Magazine Article on cooking and it's importance for health and culture.
And here's another recipe for greens, my go-to plate-filler.
Fragrant Indian-Spiced Greens
1 pound fresh spinach
1 pound leafy greens (mustard greens, collards, or kale)
4 tablespoons coconut oil (refined for medium-high heat)
1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
2 green chili peppers, seeded and minced
1 cup chopped canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Sea salt to taste (optional if strictly Paleo)
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup water
Wash the spinach and greens well under cold running water. Spin them dry and chop them coarsely. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in dutch oven or large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onion to the hot oil and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili peppers and stir-fry for a minute or two. Add the chopped tomatoes, ground ginger, salt (if using), and the garam masala, and cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato juices thicken a bit but have not evaporated. Turn the heat down to medium and add two handfuls of the spinach/greens mixture and stir well. When greens have wilted, add another handful of greens and stir and cook till wilted. Continue adding greens this way until they have all all been added. Add 1/4 cup of water, cover, and cook until the greens are tender. Serve warm.
These greens are great when made ahead of time and then gently re-heated. Click here, here, here, here, and here, for other greens recipes from past posts.
Also, I'm happy to report that Naomi is Back!