People often ask me how I can possibly eat the way I do — day in and day out. Like anything else, I have found that it actually becomes quite pleasurable once you get into the habit.
Speaking of learning new habits, I can tell you one thing, it’s a lot easier to learn how to prepare a few plant-strong, healthy meals like this one than it is for an old guy to learn how to move from PC to a Mac after 17 years. But trust me, both of those challenging transitions are among the most rewarding changes I have ever made in my life.
As with my mid-morning Sailors Daily Oatmeal, I don’t have lunch until I get real hungry. Lately, that has been averaging between 2 and 3 pm, and that’s when I enjoy what I call my…
Sailors Super Lunch
This is a quick, easy, healthy and delicious lunch (or dinner) featuring almost 100% of its calories from whole plants. From the time I walk into the kitchen, this cooked meal can be ready to eat just like this in roughly five or six minutes.
One of the staples of this meal is a mixture of grains and legumes that I prepare in advance on a weekly basis. With a one-serving portion of these calorie-dense starches always ready to go, I can easily whip up a complete meal within minutes. In addition to this key item, I also include generous portions of things like broccoli, spinach, eggplant, mushrooms, carrots, tomato, cucumber, olive and avocado.
This delicious meal contains between 400 and 500 calories, is 100% plant-based and derives less than 20% of its calories from fat. And I can prepare the entire meal in five minutes. Clean up takes less than one minute; and, for a single guy, that’s important.
- Pre-cook up to five days of a mixture of legumes and grain. My favorite mixture is black beans, red beans, brown rice and wild rice. Cook both rices together at the same time in a rice cooker. Soak both beans overnight and cook them together on simmer for about 90 minutes.
- Package the above in small plastic containers, each with enough for one serving.
- Fill a large salad bowl with a mixture of raw spinach & kale, squeeze some lime juice on top. Cook in microwave for 30 seconds. Put a half pita (Joseph’s brand) on top and cook for another 30 seconds.
- While spinach cooks, cut and assemble the broccoli, the eggplant, and mushrooms on a dinner plate.
- I like to cut up the broccoli, eggplant and mushrooms into small bite-size pieces (See photo above).
- Sprinkle some low sodium seasonings on top and microwave for 2 minutes.
- While that’s cooking, spread a little hummus inside the half pita; then stuff it with the spinach, kale, olives and sliced avocado.
- Add raw tomatoes, raw carrots and raw olives and other raw items to garnish the plate.
That’s it; I then put my meal on a tray like the one pictured above and carry it to a place of beauty inside my cozy cottage or outside on the private brick garden behind my home. If someone is joining me, I just add one more plate and the whole process takes about 7 minutes; that’s because I only have one microwave oven. (Worried about microwave cooking, see my blog featuring Dr. Greger.)
This simple, delicious and healthy meal:
- Delivers about 400 to 500 calories depending on serving sizes; less than 400 mg of sodium.
- Derives 100% of the calories from plants; over 80% are whole plants — in nature’s package.
- Derives less than 20% of the total calories from fat. To reduce this percentage, simply ease up on the avocado, hummus and olives.
- Delivers 29 grams of fiber…more than many people get from whole plants in a week.
- Costs less than $5 per meal.
This is a good example of what we call a true “4-Leaf” meal; that is, it derives well over 80% of its calories from whole plants and far less than 20% of its calories from fat. It also has a variety of foods including fruit, vegetables, legumes and grains; and includes a decent amount of the super-nutritious vegetables like spinach and broccoli.
A meal like this, coupled with my Sailors Daily Oatmeal in the AM, enables me to post a pretty snappy half-time score at by 3 PM each day: Over 50 grams of fiber, about 1,000 calories, with only 10 to 12% from fat — over 90% of the calories from whole plants and less than 15% of the calories from fat.
It may sound boring to you, but I eat almost the same breakfast and lunch every day. I simply wait until I am really hungry; then enjoy this great meal. Today (1-3-11), I had this “lunch” at 3 PM. Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy variety, and I get plenty of that when I go out every night.
As for variety, the Tarahumara Indians in Mexico live a very long, vibrantly healthy life and consume almost nothing but corn, beans and squash. That’s it. They also suffer none of our common killer diseases, can run 100 miles at a time and almost never get sick. While these Indians have minimal variety and maximum health; our obsession with a great “variety” of the wrong foods is literally killing us.
Now that I am waiting until I get real hungry before eating each meal, I have been having my lunch meal later in the afternoon — and it has become my main meal of the day. Likewise, I find that I am eating a lighter dinner than I did in the past — back when I would eat a big, heavy meal and then go to bed shortly thereafter. Not good.
If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.
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—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at HealthyEatingHealthyWorld.com
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I’ve been putting cooked rice and black beans in a bowl in the morning, and then filling it with veggies and Trader Joes tomato and red pepper soup (organic, low sodium), heating it up and taking it in a thermos for lunch every day, now that it’s cold out. Delicious, very easy. I could probably eat it every day all winter. But the soup is probably too processed to fit in the 4Leaf plan. Suggestions?
Even though I follow a raw diet, I enjoy reading your 4 leaf plan. The only thing I would caution you on is the use of the microwave. I am not reading many good things about the use of that appliance. I would steer around that marker if I were you. I generally boil rice for my family as it does not really take that much longer especially since you are making it once for the week. For beans (which I do not really recommend eating- Why, The best reason is summed up best in an article by Swayze Foster fitonraw.com -let me know and I will email you a copy) but they are apparently best cooked in a pressure cooker according to Susan Voisan at fatfreevegan.com which is a good source of low fat vegan recipes. I personally think raw is best and think you are really close to eating a raw diet yourself. Let me know if you would like some great tasty low fat raw recipes to add to your collection. I have a few started at my website but many more that I have not had time to add. http://www.wildsexyhealth.com
How about the beans and rice. How does he use them? On the side? under the veggies, on top of them, cold or hot? If they are the base of the meal, I would like to know how he uses them so I can do it right. I live the idea of the meal that you can eat all week, I just want to do it right.
Guess you read how I prepare them at my Sailors Super Lunch post. So, for my go-to lunch or dinner, I start by placing my rice and beans in one third of the plate with the rice on top of the beans. Then I cut up into bite-size pieces my eggplant, broccoli, mushrooms and squash — and spread them around the plate. It’s almost like the rice stacked on the beans is the “main course.” Then I season with Braggs, Mrs. Dash, etc and put in microwave for 2 minutes.
While microwaving, I cut up my tomatoes, celery, carrots, olives and avocado — all of which I place on top of my cooked veggies. Then, with my spinach wrap, I am ready to eat in just about a total of five minutes. The key is having those rice and beans already cooked and stored in single-serving containers. I use Tribe Hummus small containers — put my cooked rice on the bottom, add the beans on top, cover and put in fridge. Then when I turn it upside down and pop it onto the plate, it makes a nice round pile about 4 inches across and 1 inch high — with the rice on top.
Be well, J. Morris Hicks