Let’s be real with each other. How many servings of leafy green veggies do you eat each day? If it’s one or none, keep reading!
Dark leafy greens are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that our bodies need to function optimally - specifically nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, and K. Greens like broccoli, kale, and bok choy are also high in B-vitamins. These vegetables also contain iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and an abundance of antioxidants. Not to mention their high fiber content and water volume will fill you up fast and aid digestion. Thinking you can take a multi-vitamin as a replacement just won't cut it.
Personally, I am for 3-4 servings of leafy greens each day plus an additional 4-5 servings of other low-starch vegetables. (I promise it’s easier than it seems!)
What constitutes a serving? One large handful of raw greens (a heaping cup). Spinach, kale, collards, Swiss chard, arugula, and even romaine are all options that can seamlessly incorporate into your daily meals.
Here’s how I do it.
1. Add to soups, stir-fry, and pasta. You'll rarely see one of these without a handful of chopped greens added in our household. Greens only take 3-5 minutes to wilt, so add a huge handful towards the end of cooking right before you're ready to eat.
2. Utilize in leftovers. This is a favorite of mine and usually an a-ha moment for my clients. Whenever I have leftovers from dinner the night before (take-out or home cooked), I'll serve it over a big bed of arugula or baby spinach for lunch. Try keeping a clamshell of baby greens in your work fridge if you have one - you'll have no excuse not to add a handful at each meal.
3. Add to a smoothie. Yes, we all know about green smoothies. But this really is one of the easiest ways to add a does of greens to your breakfast routine. I keep a bag of frozen kale in my fridge for just this purpose. Start with a small handful if it's too much for you and go from there.
4. Cook with eggs (or into a burger). I love frittatas. They're great for using up those last bits of produce and greens that are getting just past their prime. Try making the night before on Sundays for an easy grab-and-go breakfast. And if you eat meat, who says you can't throw chopped spinach into your turkey burgers?
5. In salads. Okay fine, maybe this isn't as creative as you'd expect. But salads are still one of the best and easiest ways to get your greens! But have you ever had a breakfast salad?! Top a bed of spinach or baby kale with two fried eggs and avocado. And for dinner, try to mix it up with different types of lettuce - arugula, romaine, mesclun, baby kale, watercress, endive, radicchio, or escarole. A little olive oil, lemon juice, and a few crunchy walnuts and you've got an amazingly delicious side salad.
Bonus: Herbs! Yep, herbs count as leafy greens too and are jam packed with nutrients. Try adding parsley or cilantro to your salad, dill to an omelet, or mint to your bowl of berries.
Make it easy.
Stock your fridge with several different types of greens each week - variety is key to getting different nutrients and to prevent boredom.
Use bagged greens or pre-cut vegetables if it's the only way you'll make it happen. These days you can find so many make-it-easy options.
Hit-up your farmer's market or join a CSA. It's a great way to open your world to new and different vegetables! Plus you're supporting your local community.
Once you're gotten your greens home - wash, cut, and dry them so they're ready to be eaten at anytime. You're much more likely to throw a handful of kale into your stir-fry if all you have to do is grab a ready-to-go handful. My favorite way to store prepped greens is in a large Tupperware or bag with a paper towel to absorb any moisture. They'll keep for days this way.
Leafy Green Recipes
And one last thing - don’t be afraid of adding fat with your greens. Certain nutrients are fat soluble, which means they should be eaten with olive oil, avocado, or another healthy fat to ensure proper absorption. The days of fat-free salad dressings are over.
So, let me know! How are you going to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet this week?