Your mother (and grandmother) were right – you should always eat your greens. For some reason, many people seem to develop an intense disliking for green vegetables. Perhaps it brings back dark memories from childhood where green vegetables were left to be pushed around on our plates or hidden under napkins, out of sight.
As adults however, we all know the multitude of benefits that come with eating our greens. The trouble comes in finding a way to incorporate as many of these nutrition-packed powerhouses into our diet on a daily basis (and no, the Cos lettuce in your Caesar salad definitely does not count).
Here are my top ways to sneak more greens into your day:
1. Incorporate greens into every meal
Let’s face it – breakfast is probably the hardest meal of the day to incorporate greens in to. Including some green veggies with your brekkie doesn’t have to be complicated however. Are you an eggs on toast kind of breakfast person? How about knocking up a side of sautéed or steamed spinach to complement your morning dish? Spinach is cheap and sautéing it seriously takes about 1 minutes on the stove. If you don’t have time for a cooked breakfast, try mixing in some kale or spinach in a morning smoothie (note how I don’t say ‘juice’? For the explanation of why I don’t drink juice, see my previous post here.)
It is very easy to incorporate greens with both lunch and dinner. At lunch, it is as easy as having a big green leafy salad along with some high-quality, lean protein and other veggies. Same goes with dinner. I try to pile my plate three quarters full of roasted, fresh or steamed veggies (the greener the better) with one quarter of protein or grains, such as quinoa. For green veggies, think Brussels sprouts, green beans, kale, spinach, cucumber and broccoli.
2. Swap carbohydrate-laden snacks with veggies
I love to snack on dip in the afternoon. Hummus and babaganoush are my favourites. Instead of using pita chips or corn chips to scoop up the dip however, I use broccoli, celery (or carrots – not technically green (!) but a veggie none the less). Not only are you swapping out a heavily processed food for a fresh one, but you are upping your veggie intake as you do it.
Also on the snack front, make your own snacks using green veggies. A popular snack these days is kale chips, which are incredibly simple to make yourself. If you are pushed for time, you can buy these in good quality grocers along with other dehydrated green vegetables such as broccoli. If you are buying these things though, watch out for added nasties such as added oils (particularly canola or palm oils), sugars (normally in the form of dextrin) and crazy amounts of added salt. Make sure you read the labels and if in doubt, it is always better to make you own. It is generally cheaper too.
3. Drink your greens
Whilst I am heavily against juicing as a method of getting your intake of vegetables, if you simply cannot ingest greens any other way, this can be a reliable last resort. The best option to go for here is cold pressed juice. This method retains the enzymes and other beneficial and nutritious elements of the vegetable to ensure you are getting the most out of it in juice form. If you can’t find cold pressed, go for the next best thing but be warned – juices will not fill you up in the same way that eating the whole vegetable will and you also will not gain all the health elements from consuming veggies in this way.