March 7, 2022
When I’m asked, “what is one thing you wish more people did that would greatly impact their health,” I typically always answer “eat more green vegetables.” If there is one thing that we can get (almost) the whole nutrition world to agree upon, it’s that increasing green vegetables in your diet is a win. They are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber, which help your body do things like create energy efficiently, balance blood sugar, support a healthy metabolism and digestion, fight disease, de-inflame the body, just to name a few. Sadly, these can often be the food group we consume the least, so adding more may take some new habit forming and strategic thought. Yes, I just used the word “strategy” in relation to vegetables. Go forth and conquer:
If you’re just starting out with incorporating more vegetables, or you have kids that regularly express their hatred for green foods that aren’t apple jolly ranchers, smoothies can be the best place to start. Packing spinach, kale, or any chopped greens you have on hand to a smoothie with other fruits such as berries, bananas, dates, or apples, will ensure your greens go unnoticed. Add an extra measure of fiber, protein and omega-3 fats by adding chia seeds, flax seeds, and/or hemp seeds.
When I’m making a meal and realize it’s missing greens, I will often throw in some last minute handfuls of chopped kale or spinach. It wilts down to where it’s almost unnoticed. You can do this with an asian stir fry with kelp or shirataki noodles, a pot of Zuppa Toscana , chicken soup, curry, or a crock pot dish at the end of cooking.
Zuppa Toscana (swap chicken or turkey sausage and coconut milk in place of cream for healthier version!)
TRUST ME you purists, you won’t ruin your pizza with a few greens. The secret is to saute them down to get rid of the moisture so they won’t make your pizza soggy. I do this with sauteed kale, spinach or arugula (my favorite) which adds a peppery bite to balance out the richness of the cheese and sauce. Or, leave the arugula fresh and lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil to add at the end. For a gluten-free option, I love the Banza chickpea crust!
Just throw them in at the last minute and make your mac n cheese more *adult.*
I have recently been loving zucchini lasagna, where thinly sliced and roasted zucchini is used in place of (or you could totally do in addition to) pasta noodles. I will add mushrooms and spinach to my jarred marinara sauce and use that between layers of zucchini and cheese. Or, add them to a savory bread pudding or dressing, pasta bake, au gratin, or whatever dish from the 90’s that you are shamelessly still loving.
This is one of my favorite hacks for little kids. You can add sauteed kale or spinach to any ground meat of your choice, and it makes for a hearty added texture and barely any greens flavor.
Kale chips? You could make those. Or you can roast cabbage wedges with olive oil and sea salt and be amazed at the perfectly tender, almost creamy texture. Roasting about any green at 400-425 about 20-30 minutes will significantly improve flavor and yield a carmelized, tender result. Think broccoli, asparagus, collard greens with sliced bacon and garlic, or green beans.
I’m not a big savory breakfast person, but I recently discovered sauteeing arugula with the Trader Joe’s Vegan Caesar dressing and I’m hooked. Add them to your breakfast plate with eggs and sweet potato hash for a breakfast or brunch that gives you a headstart on a healthy day.