Leafy greens are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Edible leafs such as kale, collard greens, swiss chard, the many varieties of lettuce, mustard greens, frisee, cilantro, parsley, spinach, arugula, broccoli rabe, dandelion greens, cabbage, bok choy, turnip greens and beet greens are some of the best foods you can put in your body.
Why are leafy greens (especially dark leafies) so good for you?
These beauties are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and cancer fighting compounds, more than most all other foods, while being incredibly low in calories and fat.
Kale for example, contains 100 mg of calcium in just 1 cup, as well as 329 mg of postassium, 95 mcg of folate, 80 mg of vitamin C, 335 mcg of vitamin A, 3971 mcg of beta-carotene, 5493 mcg of lutein + zeaxanathin and SO many more health enhancing compounds in trace amounts (1).
But as Americans, we're barely eating these glorious leafy greens and you should be eating them everyday! Your goal is to eat leafy greens at least one time each day!
But to do this you need easy and delicious techniques to actually eat them, that both you and your family will love.
4 Easy Ways to Eat More Greens
1. Make delicious dressings and sauces.
When you pour amazing dressings and sauces over salads or steamed greens, it makes it delectable to eat them. I LOVE Cathy Fisher's avocado-cucmber dressing which even has leafy greens in it! Or, try this lemon-tahini dressing, again from the talented Cathy Fisher (2).
Make a large batch of dressing every 3-5 days and keep in your fridge. This way, you'll always have delicious dressings on hand and you can ditch those bottles of ranch that are disastrous for you.
2. Eat more than 1 type of green in your salads.
Instead of just ice-berg lettuce, try romaine combined with spinach, and cilantro for example. This would be great with black beans, sweet potato chunks, peppers, onions and salsa on-top.
You can also find pre-made salad mixes in the grocery store, or freshly picked and more exciting salad mixes at your local farmer's market.
When you add an amazing dressing from the examples provided above, it will be so easy to start munching on salad. You won't want to stop!
Make sure you top your greens with other veggies, herbs and beans (even potato chunks!) to make your salad even more delicious.
3. Add leafy greens to smoothies.
Next time you make a fruit smoothie try adding just 1 leaf of kale or collard greens, 1-2 pieces of romaine, or a 1/2 C of raw spinach. Because the taste of fruit is so sweet, you'll never even taste the greens!
I'll even add romaine leaves to my banana ice-cream. Romaine is a bit sweet so you don't taste it, plus, it turns the "ice-cream" green! (You could turn it into mint chocolate chip ;-).
P.S. kids love fruit smoothies, even with greens!
4. Add finely chopped greens to soups and most meals.
This is a very simple technique. Chop 1 kale leaf or other 'tougher greens' like mustards, collards or swiss chard very finely. Then, simply add this small amount to a large pot of stew, chili, on-top of your pizza, in pasta or into your veggie burger mix. Add spinach leaves to a sandwich or a rice and bean bowl and then add a bit of chopped romaine on-top.
You can also buy pre-chopped frozen kale (or other greens) mixes and simply 'pour' them into chili or soup.
Every little bit of leafy green counts, so try and add them whenever and wherever you can!
Now I'd love to hear from you. What did you think of this article? I encourage your to share your comments and feedback below, to share this article with a friend and show me some love by 'liking' this article. Thanks!
Take Control Now Question
What's your favorite way to incorporate greens into your daily diet? Which one of these techniques would you try first and why?
1. Kale, USDA Nutrient Database, Accessed online July 2014 at http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3030?fg=&man=&lfacet=&count=&max=25&sort=&qlookup=kale&offset=&format=Full&new=&measureby=#id-1
2. Cathy Fisher, www.StraightUpFood.com