"Eat your veggies"
We have all heard or even maybe even given that piece of health advice MANY times in our lives. "Eat your veggies! Greens are good for you!" Although it may seem trite, it is good advice for those who are looking for more regularity, nutrient diversity and satiation from our diets.
Green fruits and veggies tend to be extremely nutrient dense, meaning they provide a ton of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, fluid and fiber in a small package. They also have been shown to help prevent or manage certain chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
What are some of the most nutrient-dense green veggies?
Working as a private practice dietitian, I have heard all the excuses to not eat veggies: they are too much work, I don't know how to prepare them, they don't taste good, every time I buy them they end up going bad. Well here are some tips to sneak those greens back into your everyday diet:
1. Use as a base for a salad or bowl: This one may seem like a no-brainer, but greens are always a great base for salads whether you are using romaine, arugula, spinach, kale or cabbage. But you can also use it as a staple ingredient in grain bowls. I like to chop up romaine and add it into my burrito bowl with black beans, farro, peppers, onions and avocado. Check out these recipes for other grain bowl ideas.
2. Mix into dishes: Try adding greens to dinner staples like meatloaf, burgers or meatballs. Check out this recipe for a plant-based burger that uses kale, sunflower seeds and cannelini beans.
3. Blend into smoothies: Yes, when you mix greens like spinach or kale or even zucchini into smoothies, you get the same fiber and nutrients as if you were eating a salad. Just be sure you are using a blender and not a juicer. A juicer removes most of the fiber content out so it doesn't have as many benefits as one made in a blender. Check out this recipe for a green pineapple smoothie.
4. Add them into sauces: Next time you're having a pasta night, think of adding veggies into your pasta sauce like spinach or broccoli. Doing this can sneak in more vitamins like folate, iron, vitamin c, vitamin K and, of course, more fiber. It can also help balance out your plate a little better so you get a better variety of macro and micronutrients. Check out this spinach pasta with roasted broccoli and bell pepper recipe which boasts 10 g of fiber per serving!
5. Snack on them: A quick and easy snack could look like raw broccoli or celery sticks or bell pepper strips with hummus or dip. But you could also prep some homemade veggie chips for the week. You may have heard of kale chips, but honestly they pale in comparison to brussel sprout chips (in my opinion). Here are a couple variations on how to make one of my favorite veggie snacks.
Comment below to share your favorite strategies for adding more leafy greens in your diet!