Why and How to Get More Green Vegetables into Your Diet

Author: Linda DiBella

If there one thing I stress over and over, it is the importance of incorporating vegetables into our daily diets, and in particular, dark, leafy, green vegetables. In today’s typical, processed- and convenience-foods diets, fresh vegetables are almost always missing, yet they are invaluable to maintaining health and well-being.

They are low in calories and an abundant source of minerals that are often lacking in our diets, including calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc.   They provide vitamins such as A, C, E, and K, folic acid, fiber, chlorophyll and a wealth of phytochemicals.

Plus, with all these nutrients to offer and for very few calories per serving, they help to:

- detoxify the blood,
- energize the body without weighing us down,
- improve circulation,
- keep our bodies at a slightly alkaline pH to inhibit disease,
- reduce the risk of cancer,
- strengthen our intestinal flora, digestion and immune system,
- keep our liver, gall bladder and kidneys functioning well

Greens are easy to grow either in a traditional garden or in pots on the porch.   Imagine having your own continuous supply of fresh greens.   Here are some simple tips for growing your own potted leafy greens garden.

Incorporating green vegetables doesn’t have to be difficult and sometimes is just a matter of having them on hand.  For example, dark leafy greens can be:

- added to a morning smoothie,
- tossed into soups or sauces in the last few minutes of cooking,
- chopped and added to grain dishes,
- piled on a sandwich,
- added to scrambled eggs or frittatas,
- used as wraps instead of bread,
- quickly sautéed as a side dish
- shredded in the food processor and added to sauces and grain recipes.  This is a great way to sneak them into your kid’s meals if they otherwise won’t touch them on the plate.

Here a few recipes that use the above ideas:

1. One of my favorite morning smoothies:

1 cup of almond milk, filtered water, or other liquid
½ an avocado
½ – 1 cup frozen blueberries or other berry
sprinkle of cinnamon
1 tsp of maple syrup, honey or other natural sweetener
a scoop of protein powder (optional)

Combine the above ingredients in a blender.  One they are well-mixed with the blender still running, add 1 – 2 handfuls of washed and dried kale, romaine lettuce, baby greens or spinach.  Continue to blend until the greens are well distributed.   Drink immediately or chill and drink within a few hours.   Experiment with different greens and spices like cardamon, nutmeg, maybe even a bit of vanilla.  With the protein powder and avocado, this makes a satisfying drink that will get you through the morning.  The kids may even like it too!
2.  One of my favorite quick wraps is mashed avocado with a bit of fresh lemon juice, chopped tomatoes, and ground black pepper rolled into red or green leaf lettuce leaves.  Add whatever fresh vegetables you have on hand.

3.  Heat grapeseed or coconut oil in a pan.  Add washed and chopped fresh kale, chard, spinach, or dandelion greens and sauté until wilted.  Remove from heat and add fresh, minced garlic and a pinch of Himalayan or sea salt.

4.  Before scrambling eggs, add a handful of baby spinach to the pan and quickly sauté until it begins to wilt.  Add the eggs and scramble as usual, or allow the eggs to set, add additional fillings, and fold into an omelette.

Here is a delicious recipe for Tomato Kale soup that uses both fresh-roasted and sundried tomatoes with chopped kale.

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