The more we know about good nutrition and how important it is to eat fresh veggies, the more attention we give to leafy greens. In fact, you can’t find a list of the “most powerful foods” that doesn’t mention kale, spinach or collards. That’s because dark leafy greens contain such an abundant source of nutrients and powerful antioxidants, packing plenty of iron, calcium and fiber. They also contain chlorophyll, the pigment that turns the leaf green. Some people think of this as the plant’s blood and that makes sense when you also consider that leafy greens contain vitamin K, which helps our bodies with blood clotting abilities.
With all these nutrients to offer and for very few calories per serving, they also help to:
– detoxify the blood
– energize the body without weighing us down
– improve circulation
– keep our bodies at a slightly alkaline pH to inhibit disease
– reduce the risk of cancer
– strengthen our intestinal flora, digestion and immune system
– keep our liver, gall bladder and kidneys functioning well
If you are a greens lover like me, chances are you don’t need any encouragement to add these to your meal plan. For those who are a wee bit reluctant, I suggest you start out with some of the milder flavored greens and work your way up. A quick reference on some of the most popular greens…..
*** Arugula: peppery flavor – try raw in salads or sandwiches
*** Bok Choy: sweet, mild flavor – perfect for stir-fries or soups
*** Collards: mild, sweet flavor – steam, braise or sauté until tender
*** Escarole; mildly bitter – eat raw in salads and steam or braise
*** Kale: mildly peppery – boil, steam or sauté
*** Mizuna: tender and spicy – mix with other greens in salads
*** Spinach; soft, sweet flavor – multi-purpose! Raw or cooked in many dishes
*** Swiss Chard: tender, sweet – sauté, braise or add to soups and other dishes
Let Greens Be Thy Medicine. How to eat more dark green leafy vegetables:
Without question, leafy green veggies offer the most nutrients per calorie and are extremely versatile.Make an effort to include more GREEN into your meals. Feasting on something new, exciting, and gorgeously green will keep your health in great shape for years to come.
Here are some of my favorite creative cooking ideas to get you started….
- For just about any soup, greens are a perfect match. Just chop and stir in, letting cook until tender. Spinach and chard are super quick options.
- Mix it up in your salad bowl by adding baby spinach, tender young spring greens and baby arugula.
- Use a large collard green leaf or nori (seaweed) sheet to make a raw sushi roll or wrap.
- Add chopped greens to a stir fry – try collards, bok choy and broccoli rabe.
- Have them as chips! A now favourite snack of mine is Kale Chips.
- Eat a huge salad every day. Combine an assortment of greens with your favorite colorful veggies, beans, blanched vegetables, cooked potatoes, corn, dried or fresh fruits, baked squash, seeds, and nuts
- Make a simple side dish by sautéing onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, add some greens, a little broth and steam until tender. Great with kale because it doesn’t cook down as much as other greens.
- When making a sandwich or wrap, top it off with baby spinach, arugula or any baby field greens.
- Want to experiment? In recipes that call for cooked spinach, substitute half the amount with cooked chard.
- Add an eye-opening dose of the greens to your eggs! Simply add sauteed Swiss chard, spinach, kale, (in addition to those more commonly eaten tomatoes, onions and peppers) to your omelet or scrambled eggs.
- Never have time for prep? Freeze greens for quick and easy use. Remove and discard the tough stem from mature leaves. Wash, dry and chop the leaves. Then freeze in serving-size freezer bags and add frozen leaves directly to soups, stews, pasta sauces, etc. You can purée them and add them to pasta sauce or add to a stir-fry.
- Serve your favorite soup, beans or chili over a bowl of baby spinach. The heat from the broth will gently wilt the spinach and add great flavor to your meal.
- Mix up in a juicer! Try my Lucky Green Juice recipe below
Caroline’s Lucky Green Juice
- 1 cucumber
- 4 stalks celery
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 cup parsley
- 1 lime
- 1 red or green apple
- small handful of mint
Put all ingredients through a juicer and enjoy!
Do you have any creative ideas to eat more leafy greens? I’d love to hear your suggestions, please write me a comment below! Lately I have been obsessed with this Whole Foods Market Kale Salad – it is divine!
Wishing you a happy Saint Patricks Day, I know when your diet is filled with greens you wont need any leprechaun luck to keep you healthy!
May the road rise to meet you,
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