They’re green and leafy – and good for you. Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough of these “powerhouses of nutrition.” Green, leafy vegetables are loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and some, like kale, contain anti-cancer compounds that help your liver break down cancer-causing chemicals you’re exposed to every day. Obviously, these are veggies you want more of. Green, leafy vegetables that offer exceptional health and nutritional benefits include kale, spinach, collard greens, cabbage, Swiss chard, bok choy and mustard greens. But these aren’t foods most Americans eat on a daily basis. Fortunately, there are simple ways to add more green, leafy vegetables to your diet so you can enjoy their many health benefits.
If Pressed for Time, Buy Frozen Greens
Some people buy fresh kale or collard greens, and let them rot before they get around to cooking and eating them. Making fresh greens requires a little more work, which is why frozen greens are a good alternative. You can prepare them quickly on the stovetop or in a microwave, and you won’t be skimping on nutritional value. Veggies are frozen at their peak of freshness and often retain more of their vitamins than fresh ones that lose some of their nutritional value before they reach your dinner plate. Frozen greens are also less expensive and can be stored for several months in the freezer.
Add Green, Leafy Veggies to a Smoothie
The green smoothie movement is going strong as people add more kale and spinach to smoothies to increase their nutritional value. Kale or spinach doesn’t sound like the tastiest smoothie ingredients, but when you combine them with berries or other fruit, the taste of the greens is hardly noticeable. Beginning the day with a green smoothie gives you a jumpstart on your vegetable quota for the day.
Make Kale Chips
When you want something crunchy and a bit salty, make kale chips instead of opening a bag of high-calorie potato chips. Lightly coat kale leaves with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place them on a baking sheet so they aren’t touching each another. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 10 minutes. Then enjoy a crunchy snack that’s actually good for you.
Be “Opportunistic” with Greens
Look for opportunities to add green, leafy vegetables to foods you already eat. Score a bag of frozen greens and scramble them into your next omelet. Add them to your next pizza, sandwich or wrap. Make soup in the slow cooker, and add greens for extra antioxidant power. Some people even puree and stir them into brownie or cake mix to make themselves feel less guilty for eating a sweet treat!
Eat a Salad Every Day
Make it a habit to start lunch, dinner or both with a salad so you can “fit in” as many healthy greens as you can. Don’t settle for iceberg lettuce. Fill your salad bowl with an array of dark, leafy greens like spinach, cabbage and arugula. Don’t forget about watercress. It adds a peppery taste to salads that contrasts well with strawberries and other salad fruits. Don’t use a fat-free dressing. It’ll make it harder for your body to absorb the fat-soluble carotenoids in the greens.
The Bottom Line?
Don’t underestimate the power of dark, green leafy veggies. They’re low in calories but high in nutrition – and perfect for any meal.
World’s Healthiest Foods website