How to Get More Greens in Your Diet
There’s no disputing that leafy green vegetables are some of the healthiest foods on the planet; nutrient dense, full of fibre, rich in vitamins and minerals. But let me guess, you’re tired of the same old salad over and over? Not to worry, luckily there are so many ways to use these beautiful greens right up, so here are some simple tips to help you get more greens in your diet.
How to Get More Greens in Your Diet
Although hardcore veggie haters might find it tough to go for an all green smoothie or juice, even a little goes a long way! A mere handful of spinach provides 28% of your daily vitamin A, and 7% of your daily vitamin C. When starting out, opt for a tender and subtle greens like spinach to ensure that the flavour and texture are not too overwhelming. Fortunately, the greens in smoothies can be masked by the right combination of fruits, like in my Green Smoothie Bowl, so just start with a small portion and I promise you’ll hardly even notice.
Greens might not seem like the most common breakfast option, but getting a serving of leafy greens first thing in the morning is a great way to kick start your day. Adding a handful leafy greens to your scrambled eggs is a great way to pack in an extra cup or two, as they reduce so much in size when cooked you hardly even notice they are there. I also love to cook up a handful of kale or collards in butter and serve them with a couple of poached eggs and a side avocado, or try a make-ahead option like my Spinach Breakfast Casserole. Adding greens to your eggs is a great way to create a balanced meal full of protein and fibre to help keep you fueled for your day.
So many people opt for wraps as a healthy and lighter choice over bread or a bun, however most of them actually contain more calories, if not more! Alternatively, leafy greens make the great substitutes to wraps or bread and provide a delicious crunch. Boston lettuce or gem lettuce make great alternatives for tortillas, like in my Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps, and collard green leaves make some of the biggest and baddest wraps around. If you find the flavour of collards too bitter, just blanch them quickly until they are bright green and tender for a softer taste and texture.
4. Soups & Stews
In my option, one of the easiest ways to add greens is to incorporate them in dishes you already make. Hearty stews and soups are a great place to add extra leafy greens by cooking them in during the cooking process, or add them to spaghetti sauces, curries and stir-fries as well. Kale makes a great addition to any hearty soup, like my Caldo Verde Portuguese Soup or Kale & White Bean Minestrone, while spinach cooks well into Indian and Asian dishes. And not to be forgotten, be sure to top dishes with greens like coriander, arugula or watercress for an extra peppery bite.
5. Side Dishes
For the meat and potatoes crowd, it’s time to mix up your side dish of frozen peas! Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and swiss chard make a simple and satisfying side dish and can be cooked up with any combination of spices or flavours you like. In fact, sauteeing leafy greens in a little cooking fat can help to absorb their fat-soluble vitamins A and K. When I am in a pinch, or simply out of ideas, I whip up a side of Sauteed Garlic Kale in less than 5 minutes flat for a delicious side dish.
6. Fresh Herbs
Good news; those fresh herbs at the back of your fridge or the ones you grow on the windowsill qualify as leafy greens too! Even though they are small in size, they pack a huge nutritional punch, and adding them to your cooking or seasoning is a great way to increase your leafy green intake. For instance, a mere two tablespoons of parsley will give you 150% the daily value of vitamin K, along with 15% vitamin C and 10% vitamin A making it an incredibly rich antioxidant and detoxifier. Or, go crazy and add them all together to create a Simple Chimichurri Sauce that can be used as a marinade, sauce or condiment.
Although I always recommend whole foods first, if you are really struggling to add more greens to your diet using a high-quality greens powder can be a great temporary solution. Greens powders are available in a variety of different formats, but essentially they are all dehydrated greens that have been milled into a powder to be dissolved in water. You can drink them on their own in water or make a great addition to any smoothie.