Leafy green vegetables, cooked or raw, are so jam-packed with powerful health-producing benefits, they’ve earned the prize for most nutrient-dense food on our planet. Yet, slipping more of these veggie stars into our diets can seem daunting if you are new to greens, or they to you. How can you get started?
- Write greens on your grocery list every single week.
The first step to eating more greens is to make sure they are handy. Try a variety. Bring home something familiar, and challenge yourself to choose one you haven’t had before…maybe kale, escarole, chard, bok choy, or mustard greens. And remember that fresh leafy herbs like flat-leaf parsley, basil, and cilantro, are loaded with nutritional benefits too, as well as flavor.
- Look for pre-washed greens (like spinach, baby kale, and collards).
It’s a simple convenience, but ready-to-use greens can make all the difference in the world. Look for the ever-growing variety of pre-washed greens in bags and clamshell boxes, and buy organic when your budget allows.
- Buy frozen greens.
Frozen greens are a good value and nice time saver, too. Already cleaned and prepped, you can always find spinach, and sometimes collards, kale, chard, or mixed leafy greens flash-frozen, so adding them to soups and stews is easy as can be.
How To Use Them…
- Start your morning with a green smoothie.
Add fresh greens to a high-powered blender, along with fresh or frozen fruit for a vibrant boost so energizing, you’ll feel better inside and out.
- Add greens to lunchtime wraps.
Midday is the perfect time for greens in a delicious salad-sandwich wrap. Spread hummus on the inside of a warm tortilla, and add crisp, fresh salad greens. Or, if you have them, add leftovers of steamed greens and rice from dinner the night before.
- Make greens at dinnertime non-negotiable.
Add fresh or frozen greens to everything from soups and stews, to casseroles and stir-fries. Avoid over-cooking to keep the texture and flavor at its best. Try greens over veggie burgers or on top of pizza. Add them to the pot while cooking either rice or pasta, just a few minutes before the end of the cooking time. And of course, enjoy huge dinner salads.
- Think about having greens at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Too much? Even if you don’t add them to every meal, you’ll find you’re eating more greens than before, just by keeping them on your radar. Some greens have a more assertive, peppery, even bitter flavor that might require multiple exposures. Just be patient, experiment, and try to have a little fun, and persevere in your journey to discover new favorites to love.
Vicki Brett-Gach is a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator through Main Street Vegan Academy, with a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies. She teaches Heart-Healthy Vegan Cooking classes, and writes a monthly column called “Honestly Vegan” for Honest Cooking, an international online culinary magazine. As a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach, Vicki works closely with individual clients transitioning to a healthy plant-based diet, sharing transitional tools, best-fit strategies, and customized recipes designed to establish and support new healthy habits, one delicious meal at a time. Visit Vicki on Facebook and follow her Ann Arbor Vegan Kitchen blog at AnnArborVeganKitchen.com.