After months of eating winter root and frozen vegetables, spring is the perfect time to celebrate the return of leafy greens, which are at the height of freshness and taste this time of year.
There’s a lot to love, but one of the main reasons I recommend leafy greens to my clients because they are rich in folate, a B-vitamin which has been shown to help support stable dopamine levels and is needed for your body to make DNA and other genetic material. It’s especially important for women hoping to become pregnant, as it plays a key role in fetal development.
In addition to their hearty and delicious taste, leafy greens are a rich source of nutrition. For example, salad greens, kale and spinach are chock full of vitamins A, C, E and K, and broccoli, bok choy and mustard greens are rich in many of the B-vitamins. They also contain fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. According to US Department of Agriculture, leafy greens “contain an abundance of carotenoids–antioxidants that protect cells and play roles in blocking the early stages of cancer.”
I know that it’s easy to think that salad is the only way to get those good-for-you greens in. I admit I’m guilty of perpetuating the stereotype since I often post my salad concoctions to social media (link). I’ve been a lifelong salad fan. I was one of those weird kids who was legitimately into leafy stuff because a favorite cartoon character loved “rampion.” My sister and I used to beg my mom for it. She just started calling all greens rampion and we ate it without question. That said, there are other foods I hate—like carrots. Just not my thing, a long time ago I gave myself permission not to choke down baby carrots just because they were “healthy.”
One of the most common reasons people tell me they don’t eat enough greens is that they dislike salad. The good news is there are lots of other ways you can get your greens in. I encourage my clients to eat leafy greens at least once a day – either one cup cooked or two cups raw – and to eat vegetables at least twice per day.
Looking for delish ways to incorporate greens into your life? Here are some of my go-to non-salad suggestions and favorite recipes:
- Add greens to a smoothie like in this Cauliflower Green Smoothie
- Add chopped greens to soups, stews, chili; these two recipes are delicious and easy to make: Broccoli Rabe Chickpea Tomato Soup and Kale and Mushrooms Soup
- Try a Savory Mushroom Oat Bowl or this Warming Savory Oatmeal with some of your favorite greens folded in
- Throw some greens into a pesto sauce following this Easy Green Pea Pesto Spread recipe or into your favorite hummus
- Make a delicious sandwich with greens tucked inside like this Grilled Mediterranean Veggie Sandwich with Labneh
- Add greens to your favorite egg recipe to create something special! There are so many ways you can transform eggs. I love this Easy Hummus Omelet, Zoodle and Tomato Frittata, Beans and Greens breakfast, and Frittata with Greens and Ricotta
- Use collard greens or Romaine leaves as a bread/bun substitute like in this Mediterranean Egg Salad Sandwich
- Make a hearty dinner! These two recipes are not only delicious but filling as well: Greens with Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic.
- Create a unique dish which combines some rich flavors and textures like in this Chickpeas, Mushrooms, and Kale in Spicy Tomato Sauce
- While I’m not a big fan of most green juices because they tend to be heavy on fruit (making them high in sugar and low in fiber, protein, and fat —all of which are needed to support stable breakdown of all those carbs) – they’re OK on occasion. So long as you’re keeping fruit to a minimum (aim for up to one cup fruit, max or stick with two parts greens to one part fruit to keep things balanced), try some of these smoothies: My Favorite Green Smoothie, Earth Day Green Smoothie, and Earth Day Green Smoothie
What’s your favorite non-salad way to eat greens? Tag me on Instagram @jesscording to share!
I’d love to chat with you about ways to work healthy foods into you diet to support your goals —click here to book a free call.