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Kale, collards, cabbage… What do these foods have in common besides starting with a “k” sound? They’re all leafy green vegetables. Add spinach, lettuces, turnip greens, Swiss chard, and mustard greens and you’ve got a plate full of nutritious goodness. Chances are you’re not eating as many leafy greens as you should.
While most people think of salad when they think of a leafy green vegetable, there are many creative and delicious ways to add these nutritional powerhouses to your daily diet. You may even get the kids to eat a serving or two without knowing it!
What’s so great about leafy greens and how can you eat more of them?
For those of you wondering why you should eat more green foods, here are a few reasons. With only 10–20 calories per serving and high fiber content, leafy greens are a perfect option for people watching their weight. Because of their low calorie content, you nearly burn the calories in each bite just by chewing and digesting. On top of that, the fiber fills you up and keeps your system running smoothly.
Each type of leafy green vegetable is full of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients for good health including vitamins A, C, and K, folate, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. All leafy greens are good for you, but kale wins the nutritional contest. So, the next time you’re making your grocery list, add kale.
What are the benefits of the nutrients found in leafy greens? Get ready because the list is long. They boost your immune system, fight cancer, purify the blood, reduce congestion, promote weight loss, provide hydration, improve intestinal flora, lessen cravings, improve mental clarity, provide energy, and protect you from diabetes and heart disease. Now are you ready to eat some leafy greens?
There are endless ways to include leafy greens in your daily diet and this doesn’t mean endless types of salads…unless you’re a salad lover. Some greens like spinach are more nutritious when cooked rather than raw. Also, the vitamins in leafy greens are fat-soluble. This means your body absorbs more of the vitamins when eaten at the same time as healthy source of fat such as olive oil, avocado, or coconut oil.
A simple way to eat more greens is to add them to your favorite foods. Most types of soup can be made more yummy and nutritious by adding leafy greens. They’ll wilt when cooked and easily combine with the other ingredients.
Enjoy smoothies for breakfast? Green smoothies are packed with vitamins and minerals, but if you can’t quite stomach a green smoothie, try pureeing leafy greens into your next fruit concoction. They seem to work best with chocolate and berries. You’ll likely not even notice they’re in there, but your body certainly will!
Pureed greens can even be added to baked goods like muffins, breads, and brownies. Hiding vegetables in food is a great way to get children to eat their green vegetables without knowing it. Do an online search for healthy recipes that include leafy greens to get started.
You can also make your pizza, pasta, or casserole recipe more delicious and nutritious by including greens in the sauce or added on top when it’s still hot and steamy. Or mix some kale or spinach leaves into your next egg omelet dish. Who says you can’t eat leafy greens for breakfast? And toss the starchy potato chips. Get creative and make some green chips out of kale or collard greens. Tear up the leaves, toss them with salt, lemon juice, and oil, and then bake on a cookie sheet for 25 minutes at 300 degrees. Try other flavors for fun.