Get Some Nutrient Bang for Your Buck with Glorious Greens

I’m Irish, it’s March, it’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day so I thought I’d talk about greens.

As a kid my mum was always telling me to ‘eat your greens’ and I have to say sometimes I saw it as some sort of punishment –cabbage, sprouts or broccoli boiled within an inch of their life weren’t the best tasting or most appetising looking things in the world.  But she was on to something….

It’s interesting to look at all the conflicting and confusing information out there about diets but the one thing that most agree on is that vegetables are good especially green veggies.  While this may be the case, green vegetables are usually the most commonly missing food in modern diets but they are so important.

Nutritionally, greens are jam packed with the good stuff.  They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E, and K. They are loaded with fibre, folic acid, chlorophyll, and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.  You get a lot of nutrient bang for your buck with these veggies!!!

Benefits include:

  • They help detoxify and alkalize our bodies
  • They help boost energy levels
  • They strengthen the blood and respiratory system
  • They strengthen the immune system
  • They can improve circulation
  • They can improve liver, gall bladder and kidney functions
  • They can help clear the skin
  • They can help people lose weight (their fibre can keep people fuller for longer)

There is a growing array of leafy greens available to us now so it’s easier to experiment with new greens that you haven’t tried before.  Greens that should be easily available include:  pak choi (bok choy), cabbage, kale, broccoli, rocket, watercress, spinach, romaine lettuce, butter lettuce, fennel, brussel sprouts and collard greens as well as green herbs like coriander (cilantro), basil and parsley.

Note: Spinach and Swiss chard are best eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid, which inhibits the absorption of the calcium in these foods.

So how can you get more greens into your diet?  Try and eat some with every meal!    

A Healthy Happy GlowPhotos:  Instagram (@ahealthyhappyglow)

Ideally greens should take centre stage at every meal but if you can get them in as much as you can your body will thank you for it.  I’ve gotten so used to having greens every day now that when I don’t have them I actually crave them!  Here are some ideas on getting greens in to each meal:

Breakfast: you could add some greens to your eggs (spinach and kale are good for this), have a delicious green smoothie, try a rocket, melon and parma ham salad or have a side of sautéed greens and mushrooms with your bacon.

Lunch: you could have a super green salad or add some greens to your soups.  The leafy herbs are great additions here.

Dinner: you could get creative and prepare your greens in different ways – steaming, boiling, sautéing in oil, water sautéing, waterless cooking, lightly pickling (as in a pressed salad) or eat them raw.  I love adding greens to my stir-fries or sautéing them with either bacon or with garlic and olive oil when I want to make something quick and tasty.

Snacks: you could have a green juice or try kale or brussel sprout crisps.

At certain times of the year you may crave more raw veggies and salads (like in the summer) while cooked greens may be preferred in the winter when you crave more warming foods.  Also it might be good to note that if you have a compromised digestive system (like if you have IBS or IBD for example), you might need to cook the majority of your greens or have them in juices or smoothies.  The key is to listen to your body and see what’s right for you.

I would love to hear your suggestions on how to get more greens in to your diet.

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