Not just salads, here are 9 simple ways to eat more greens. Easy recipes and kid-friendly ideas to get more leafy greens into your diet.
Most of us know by now that eating foods with color is a good thing, right? But how good are we about doing it? Do you wake up in the morning and pour yourself a nice big bowl of – salad?? If you do, you’re in a much better place than most of us. But if you’re trying to eat more greens, I’ve got simple solutions for you to up your intake. Oh yeah, and most all of them are super tasty, too! Read on, and let me know which one looks best to you:).
What is the importance of green leafy vegetables?
Vegetables are important sources of vitamins and minerals including potassium, dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamins A and C and more. Dietary fiber from vegetables is especially important as part of an overall healthy diet, as it helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Dark leafy greens are a good source of Vitamins A, C and K, along with folate (folic acid). They are also a good source of fiber. It is recommended to eat 2-3 servings of greens each week, served with some fat, so that your body can absorb the vitamins found within.
9 Ways to Eat More Greens
Blend em, baby – Probably my favorite way to ensure you eat more greens is to add them to a smoothie.
About 8 years ago, I came across a recipe that had spinach combined with some fruit, milk and yogurt. The recipe promised that, although the end result was green, you couldn’t taste the inclusion. Huh, I thought … could I really serve this to my little kids and get away with it? The worst case scenario, I figured, was that I’d have to toss it (or give it to my hubs since I can’t do dairy). Would you believe that they downed it without question? I did a happy dance knowing that I was on to something: an easy way to get my kids to eat more greens … easily! This is a kid friendly smoothie recipe and here is a recipe for a pumpkin smoothie to get you started.
Sure, this is so 2010, but maybe there’s nothing wrong with that! This side/snack truly couldn’t get any easier. If you can turn on your oven (375 degrees) and open a bag of kale, you’re halfway there.
Place the kale on a baking sheet and spray it with avocado oil spray. Sprinkle it with some salt and bake for 5 minutes before turning; bake for another 5-7 minutes and remove. Add additional salt if desired and enjoy.
Put ’em in pasta
My 3rd daughter had a friend over this past Friday, and I had nothing planned for dinner. We had just gotten home from Girls on the Run, and therefore I didn’t have tons of time to whip up a fancy meal – nor did I feel like it, if I’m being honest.
I cooked some gluten-free pasta, and when I went to drain it, I added 2 giant handfuls of greens. The pasta was hot, so it helped wilt them. I added this mixture to a baking dish, mixed in some marinara, folded in mozzarella cheese and topped it with some Parmesan cheese. I put it in a pre-heated oven and baked it until the cheese was melted, and this simple dish got 2 thumbs up all around!
Stick ’em in a sandwich
Seeing a sandwich without any color (read: vegetables) makes me uncomfortable. I know, I know; I’ve sorta got issues here. But why wouldn’t you dress it up with some nice greens and a slice or two of tomatoes? I love the crunch that romaine provides, and the nutritional benefits, too. Spinach can also be tucked into wraps, and even layered on a sandwich. If a sandwich is an everyday lunchtime food for you, this is a no-fail way to get more greens into your diet. But if you’re savvier than that, how about a collard-wrapped sandwich?
Start with soup
Yes, soups are common starters, but they’re also a great starting point for getting more greens. Lentil soup, for example, is great with greens mixed in. Or how about this split pea soup with kale?
Greens will wilt when added to hot broth, which makes the texture more desirable for some palates. Oh yeah, and somewhat less noticeable. Because of that, I’ll oftentimes mix greens into my chicken noodle or chicken and rice soup to give it a little boost, and add some appealing color at the same time.
Probably the most obvious way to eat more greens is to eat more salads; not rocket science, I know. And just because you may not have liked salad in younger years doesn’t mean you can’t like them today. After all; the options are so plenty that there’s bound to be one that you like!
Some of my personal favorites are this kale quinoa salad, this roasted butternut squash, quinoa and arugula salad, and I always love a good clean broccoli salad, too. But salads don’t need to be fancy; there are many lunches where I’ll throw whatever greens I have in a bowl, add some roasted veggies (or raw if I don’t have roasted), seeds, a few hard boiled eggs, some good clean salad dressing or a giant dollop of guac and call it a lunch. Mmmmm! And it takes just minutes to create.
An eggcelent choice
Another simple way to eat more greens: add them to your eggs. Scrambling up some eggs for breakfast (or lunch or dinner)? First sauté some greens before adding your eggs. Putting them into a frittata or a quiche are also solid options to help you eat more greens.
Simple … stir-fry!
Stir-fry is one of those meals that I wish I made more often, because every time I make it, my kids are clamoring for more as I stand there scratching my head and wondering why I wouldn’t make more meals that include gobs of vegetables that they are fighting over.
Regardless – if you’re cooking up piles of produce, add in some bok choy, kale, or other sturdy greens (like collards) for a big boost – and another way to eat more greens.
Steamy (served hot!)
I have to admit that I stole this idea from seeing steamed kale on the hot bar at Whole Foods Market week after week. Finally, that light bulb went on. Aha! How difficult is it to actually steam kale myself? Turns out, it’s not difficult at all. Put a pot of water on the stove, turn it on medium-high, put a steamer basket/strainer on top of it with kale inside, cover it, and steam for 5-7 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt to the top, and you have a delicious side that couldn’t be simpler. And my kids will eat it too!
Before I go, I encourage you to check out these other healthy lifestyle family tips. How do you like to ensure that you are eating enough greens?
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