By Fredrica Syren:
In today’s market you can find about a million different supplements and powders that supposedly add important nutrients to your body. They generally cost a lot and may or may not contain questionable ingredients. I say eating your greens for a much cheaper price is by far a better option for a healthy body. Dark leafy greens are a powerhouse when comes to nutrition and are the most potent superfoods on the planet. Sadly, they’re also the most avoided foods as well, and many people either just don’t like the taste of them or have no idea how to eat them.
Dark leafy green vegetables include spinach, beet greens, bok choy, chard, arugula, kale, collard greens, sprouts and dandelions, to name just the most common ones. These wonderful, vibrant vegetables contain more nutrition per calorie than any other foods, which means you can eat as much as you want. They are also significant sources of major vitamins such as A, C, E and K, and contain many B vitamins. They are also a great source of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium. Furthermore, leafy greens are rich in fiber and protein. Most dietitians recommend we eat at least 3 servings of leafy greens per week — but I say the more, the better. I try to eat at least two or three servings per day.
Dark leafy greens are so healthful, and they also can help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease because they contain powerful antioxidants that have cancer protection properties. Because of the high magnesium content with a low glycemic index, these vegetables can be very helpful in managing type 2 diabetes and also can reduce the risk of diabetes. The high level of vitamin K makes them great for bone health. Because we are a vegan family, I always get asked how we get our calcium and iron. I tell them I get them from eating lots of leafy greens.
Ok, so I established all the reasons why we need to include lots of green leafy vegetables. Now the questions is how? I have to admit that, like many kids, mine are a bit shy when it comes to the leafy vegetables (besides kale), so for them I try “sneak” in veggies by chopping them very fine and adding them to sauces, in stir-fries and on pizzas. When it comes to kale, I massage the leaves with a little salt and some mashed avocado, and they will eat it.
A great way to add leafy greens to one’s diet is in smoothies because, when blended with fruit, greens are barely noticeable and you can add a lot of them.
Blueberry Loves Greens Smoothie:
- 1 cup water or milk
- 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 2 dates or use 1 Tbsp. of another sweetener like honey or agave
- 1 ripe banana
- ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
Handful of leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard or collard greens without stems. Blend in a high powered blender until it’s creamy and contains no lumps.
Kale chips just became the best thing since — well, kale!
Kettle Kale Chips:
Mix about 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup maple syrup in a large bowl. Add the kale and coat well. (This works for about five bunches of kale.) If it’s too soggy, you’ll need more kale. Work the sauce into the kale with your hands and sprinkle on some Himalayan salt. Dehydrate at 118F overnight. Or dry it in the oven at the lowest setting for 2-3 hours, checking periodically until they are crispy.
Beet Greens and Feta Pasta: This is a great and easy recipe to add my favorite greens, beet greens. Most people don’t know that beet greens are not only edible but also delicious.
One of our kids’ favorite dishes also happens to contain Swiss chard. My Swiss chard and mushroom quiche can convince anyone that leafy greens can taste great.
My Swiss Chard and Mushroom Quiche:
- 2 cups gluten-free flour (or use spelt flour)
- 4 ounces butter
- 1-2 Tbs. cold water
- Preheat oven to F400.
- Blend everything to dough and press it into a pie mold. If it’s too crumbly, just add more butter and water.
- Prick bottom with a fork a few times.
- Bake for 5-10 minutes or until crust is dry and partially baked.
- Add filling and bake for 30 minutes.
- 4 cups chopped and lightly steamed Swiss chard
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped and fried (I used oyster mushrooms)
- 1 Tbsp. herb salt
- 1 cup chive and garlic flavored cream cheese
- 1 cup firm tofu
- 1/2 cup salsa
- Place tofu, herb salt, cream cheese and salsa in a bowl or use a Cuisinart to blend really well until there are no lumps at all.
- Add Swiss chard and mushrooms, and mix.
- Pour into the partially baked pie crust, and bake according to instructions above, 30 minutes. Enjoy with a nice crisp salad.