Hopefully everyone continues to make green efforts when it comes to the environment (as there is much to do there…), but we are focusing on going green → as in consuming greens as much as possible.
What exactly are “leafy greens?” — they include kale, spinach, arugula, chard, collards, escarole, dandelion greens, mustard greens, etc. They are the most commonly consumed veggies in the United States today. These lovely greens provide us with an array of light and dark shades, but sticking with the darker shades is where you find your abundance of nutrients.
Why should we eat them every day? Dark, leafy greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium. Low in calories, high in fiber, vitamins, and phytonutrients, greens are a gift for your health, that you can keep on giving, every day!
How to eat them every day — they can easily be added to absolutely anything you are making — any protein dish (fish, chicken, tofu), any grain dish (lentils, barley, pasta, rice), and even mixed into other veggies (eggplant, sweet potatoes, roasted tomatoes). Keeping frozen greens around is highly recommended, as you will always have some on hand — no washing or chopping needed!
Not convinced you need daily greens? Check out the results from multiple recent studies:
Whether in whole food form or in smoothies, greens provide amazing benefits to the health of your body.
HOT AND SPICY GREENS
This quick method works with just about any greens — spinach, kale, escarole, collards, beet greens, etc. Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to taste.
2 pounds spinach or greens, washed and stems removed
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2–3 garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1/4 — 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional additions: currants, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds
Place iron skillet over medium heat. Add oil and spread to cover bottom of pan. Add garlic cloves and sauté for about 4–5 minutes, until slightly browned. Turn heat down to low and add spinach or other greens to pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until leaves are tender and wilted. Remove from heat and stir in red pepper flakes and salt. Place in serving dish — a dash of balsamic glaze on top is a favorite :)!
KALE WITH A TWIST
Traditional greens tend to include a ham hock, which adds excess fat and sodium to an otherwise healthy dish (although very tasty flavor, of course). Using just a small amount of bacon can impart that traditional smoky flavor.
1 pound kale, washed, stems removed
1 slice bacon (turkey bacon works just as well), chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon miso
Freshly ground black pepper
Place cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and sauté until crisp. Remove bacon and drain on paper towel. Crumble bacon and set aside.
Add 2 teaspoons olive oil and spread evenly to cover the bottom of the skillet, mixing with any leftover bacon grease. Add onion and cook until tender and lightly browned, about 5–6 minutes.
Add kale to the pan and drizzle with final teaspoon of olive oil and miso. Mix into onions and sauté until kale is wilted, about 4–5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Place in serving dish and top with crumbled bacon. Makes 4 servings.
SIMPLE GREEN SMOOTHIE
You could almost throw anything in a smoothie with greens, but this simple and tasty combination will make your gut smile.
2 cups fresh spinach
1 cup frozen fruit — any combination like 1/2 cup strawberries + 1/2 cup mango; or banana, blueberries, pineapple, raspberries, etc.
1 cup almond milk
1 banana, peeled and cut in large pieces
1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt, plain
optional: squirt of honey
Throw all of the ingredients in the blender, and blend for about a minute. (Tip: If your blender is not super powerful, blend the spinach with the almond milk first, then add the rest of the ingredients.) Pour into glasses and serve. Garnish with your chosen fruit. Makes 2 servings.
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The rebellious Rd.
As a longtime promoter of healthy cooking and eating, Amy's focus is on plant-based eating, with a rebellious twist - that she and no one, needs to be perfect.