Eat your greens! We've all heard it or said it. Though they pack the biggest nutritional punch for the least amount of calories, vegetables remain the most under-consumed food. And among vegetables, dark leafy greens get even less attention, even though they are rich in phytochemicals, fiber, calcium, beta-carotene and other components that have helped them earn the title "superfood."
Most of us need help getting more of these greens onto our plate and into our body. Here are 5 tips to help you do just that.
1. Start Your Day with a Green Smoothie
Now, I normally don't promote drinking your calories, but when it comes to a good balanced green smoothie I can make an exception. By "balanced," I mean that this smoothie contains only about one to two servings of fruit — but plenty more servings of spinach, Swiss chard or whichever leafy green is your veggie of choice. You also need to choose a protein. This could be unsweetened soymilk or yogurt, protein powder…or even tofu!
Here's a recipe for a green smoothie that I make in the morning:
Breakfast Green Smoothie
- 1/2 cup frozen berries
- 1/2 frozen banana
- 1 cup non-dairy milk
- 1/2 bunch organic Swiss chard or kale (about 3 to 4 leaves)
- 6 oz. (1/2 package) light tofu
- 1 date (optional)
- Ice (optional)
- Whiz all ingredients together in a high speed blender and enjoy!
2. Add Greens to Breakfast
Even if you're not too keen on a green smoothie, you can still get your veggies in at your first meal of the day.
- Fill an omelet with spinach
- Make a tofu scramble with leeks, green onion and basil
- Dip some cucumber in your Greek yogurt
Veggies are a common part of the morning meal in many cultures, so consider it your new normal.
3. Start with a Salad
Not only will beginning your lunch (or dinner) with a salad help with your calorie intake and weight control, it will also make sure that you get your greens before you fill up on starch or other foods. There are so many recipes out there with tasty spins on kale salad, but you can also make a cabbage slaw, or grill some romaine lettuce for a change.
4. Green Up Your Soups and Stews
I know we're approaching warmer months, but you can still enjoy a veggie-rich soup as a starter or a main dish. When you add things like bok choy, collards and mustard greens to your broth, they will shrink down considerably and allow you to eat so much more than if you tried to eat it all raw. Also, when you buy vegetables like beets and turnips, don't throw the green goodness away — use those tops as you would other greens! These vegetables — along with some legumes and a hearty grain — can really help bulk up your meal. And since you're eating the cooking liquid, you won't be missing out on all the nutrients that often get left behind with other cooking methods.
5. If You Need a Snack, Go to the Greens
Most people think of crackers, chips or some other starchy food when they are hankering for a mid-afternoon bite. Instead of these common salty, refined snacks, have cut up veggies ready in your fridge when the munchies hit.
- Pair broccoli with hummus
- Spread almond butter on celery sticks
- Chomp on kale chips