The one color you MUST add to your diet: Green!
If I had the power to make leafy greens their own food group, I would.
· They are full of fiber (great for digestive health and satiety), vitamin A (promotes eye health), vitamin C (boosts collagen to reduce risk of arthritis and promote healthy skin, hair and nails) and vitamin K (anti-inflammatory to reduce your risk of various diseases).
· Leafy greens are extremely low in calories and carbohydrates but add a lot of bulk to the plate which is a benefit when talking about weight management.
· There are numerous scientific studies that link leafy greens to longevity due to their high antioxidant level and nutrient density.
· Cruciferous vegetables (such as kale, collards and cabbage) play a role in cancer prevention and dark, leafy greens (such as kale, spinach and turnip greens) are high in lutein, a phytochemical that promotes eye health as we age.
Here are some ways to add more leafy greens in your day:
Green smoothies anyone? I am a huge advocate of daily smoothies to get a big nutritional bang for your buck, and adding a handful of leafy greens is a must. If you’re a green smoothie newbie, start with fresh spinach. It has no taste, and when mixed in a blueberry smoothie, it won’t change the color, either.
Tip: If you have greens that are going bad, put them in a Ziploc bag and remove as much air as you can, then pop them in the freezer for a later time.
Make an egg scramble. Instead of the standard breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast, why not start the morning out in an even more nutritious way by adding sautéed veggies and leafy greens? When it comes to our health and maintaining a healthy weight, it’s not just about the foods we should limit, but those we should be adding more of in our day as well.
Wrap it up. Have you ever tried using a collard green leaf as a wrap? It’s a great way to sneak in more leafy greens, adds a nice crunch to your sandwich and is full of fiber to help keep you fuller for longer. Give it a try by mixing up this chickpea “no tuna” salad!
Salads for the win. There’s just no way around it. When talking about leafy greens, salads are a given. Beware of salad culprits like cheese, creamy dressings, bacon bits and croutons that can cause the calorie count to skyrocket.
Instead, add nutritious toppings like fresh fruit, roasted or raw veggies, nuts, seeds, avocado, chicken breast or wild salmon. Drizzle with a little olive oil and squeeze of lemon for a super simple, healthy dressing.
Steam, baby. Steaming heartier greens like kale or collard greens, then drizzling with olive oil and red wine vinegar makes for a delicious side or power bowl topping. If you’re feeling extra savvy, save the steaming liquid that is full of nutrients for a soup base or to cook whole grains with.
Kick your soup game up a (nutritious) notch. Not only can you bump up the green power of your soup by using leftover steaming liquid, but you can also throw in a handful of leafy greens at the end. Because leafy greens reduce in size significantly when heated, you can really pack in a good amount per serving!