When it comes to nutrition, I try to focus on what I’m adding to my plate and not what I’m avoiding. Anything too restrictive and my mind goes to weird places. I’m a product of 90s diet culture, what can I say? In an effort to rewire my brain about what’s on my plate, I make it a mental goal to think of all the things I need to eat to stay healthy.
I love eating healthy, but even for me, it can be a challenge to make eating greens exciting. I mean, there are only so many smoothies and salads a girl can eat. And I really want to ENJOY eating.
Why We Keep Talking About Greens
Trendy diets and “superfoods” may come and go. But the science behind eating greens is clear. The nutrients found in these veggies include vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, minerals like iron and magnesium, and more. Eating greens on a daily basis supports whole-body health in the following ways:
- Keeps the immune system in fighting shape
- Helps the digestive system move along smoothly
- Gives your skin a natural glow
- Reduces inflammation
- Supports the circulatory system and healthy blood pressure levels
- Helps keep bones strong
And the list goes on. Long story short: Greens deliver.
The Best Greens to Shop For
If you want to get the most out of your greens, you need to know what to look for at the grocery store. Changing up the greens you buy will also help keep cooking more exciting (whatever their sweatshirt says, no one loves one green that much). These five types of greens are full of those must-have nutrients and shouldn’t be too hard to find locally:
- Kale — We can’t quit you, kale. Seriously hearty, kale is packed with vitamin A.
- Baby Spinach — With a mild flavor and lots of iron and fiber, spinach is easy to use.
- Green Cabbage — A great source of vitamin K, cabbage also adds a delicious crunch.
- Arugula — Loaded with calcium and folate, arugula offers a peppery kick.
- Swiss Chard — Rich in magnesium, swiss chard was made for slow cooking.
10 Ways to Get More Greens
Now that you know what to look for when navigating the produce section, you may be in need of some recipe inspiration. After all, sticking to a new nutritional goal is next to impossible if you don’t enjoy what you’re eating. And knowing how to cook greens properly will make incorporating them into your weekly nutritional plan a breeze.
Here are some ideas to try out in your kitchen:
- Make a weekly pot of soup or stew with kale or swiss chard to enjoy for lunch all week. I add some hearty greens to all my soups and no one here complains.
- Try to make the greens (or any vegetable) the star of the meal at least once a week. I feel like vegetables can be an afterthought when meal prepping. We focus on how the protein is cooked but never the veggies. Add some spices or vinegar to switch it up.
- Bake tougher greens like kale in the oven to make chips perfect for snacking.
- Puree greens to add to sauces and dips like hummus or pesto.
- Add fresh spinach to stir-fry along with lean protein, veggies, and a tasty sauce.
- Shredded greens like cabbage make an excellent slaw for topping tacos and burgers.
- Blend a handful of any green into your breakfast or post-workout smoothie.
- Top a pizza or open-faced sandwich with arugula and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Grill swiss chard to add a smokey flavor and serve as a side dish alongside fish or meat.
- Don’t cringe, but use chard as a bun replacement for your burgers. I use napa cabbage for lettuce wraps and they are *chef’s kiss*
Do you love to eat greens? I salute you! Share your tips and recipes for getting more greens into your daily diet with us below.