Go for Greens

If there’s one color that you can strive to have more of on your plate, it’s GREEN!  The color green is associated with spring, a time of renewal, and vital energy.  We know vegetables are the scarcest food in the American diet, and leafy green vegetables are the most lacking of all.  Leafy green vegetables are nutrition powerhouses and learning to add them to your diet is essential for lasting health.

Greens are rich sources of calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K among other micronutrients.  They also boast fiber and a range of phytonutrients (plant-based nutrients that are health protective).  Research suggests that the nutrients in dark leafy greens may prevent certain types of cancer and promote heart health.

Chlorophyll is the superhero responsible for the green tint and is essential for healthy blood (it’s molecular structure is almost identical to hemoglobin – the primary component of our blood), detoxification, and it supports the health of the circulatory, digestive, immune, and detoxification systems.  This stuff is SO good for you.

There are many types of dark leafy greens, but here are some of my favorites:
Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Arugala, Dandelion Greens, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Mustard Greens, Beet Greens

You can eat these raw or try a variety of cooking methods like steaming, boiling, sauteing in oil, broth, or water.  Cooking with these greens is quick and easy – it’s nearly impossible to mess them up! And, they store easily in the refrigerator (even when shopped for salads) making them ideal for busy folks!

Note that most of the vitamins in dark leafy greens are fat soluble, meaning it’s best to eat them with a healthy source of fat.  I suggest tossing them with an unrefined oil such as extra virgin olive oil or flax seed oil.  Or, cook them with butter, ghee, or extra virgin coconut oil.  Also, spinach, swiss chard, and beet greens are best eaten cooked because they are high in oxalic acid, which can deplete calcium.

Generally, the darker the green the vegetable, the more nutrient dense it will be!  So, look for opportunities to make a simple shift to get more of these dark leafy greens into your foods!  Here are some ideas:

- shift from iceberg or romaine lettuce to mixed greens, arugala, or another darker leaf
- blend cooked greens into tomato sauce to get an extra punch of nutrients
- add chopped greens to your morning omelet or skillet to get a serving of greens for breakfast
- use a heartier green leaf (kale, swiss chard, cabbage) as a wrap, and skip the tortilla
- add chopped greens to your favorite soups or stews – they’ll cook faster than most other veggies, so add them within the last 5-15 minutes of cooking
- follow one of my greens recipes to prepare a cooked greens or a salad – they all store well, so make extras and add greens to every meal!

Enjoy this recipe to get started, and check back often as I’ll be adding more greens throughout this week.

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