I am sure you already know that leafy green vegetables are some of the healthiest foods on the planet; nutrient dense, full of fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals. But greens can get boring if you have the same old salad over and over. Not to worry, luckily there are so many ways to use all of those beautiful greens right up!
There are so many varieties out there but here are some of the most common on your grocery store shelves:
- Collard Greens
- Swiss Chard
Of course, you could keep buying the same old greens every week, but in my opinion that gets real dull real fast. So, here are 10 ways to use different greens in new ways!
If you read my post on The Perfect Smoothie Formula, you already know that a perfect smoothie already includes greens. Smoothies are an easy way to sneak in some extra greens into your day without even noticing. When starting, opt for spinach, it’s the least overwhelming flavour/texture. The greens in a smoothie can be easily masked by fruits, I promise you’ll hardly even notice that they are in there. Start with small portions of greens and work you way up.
Veggies for breakfast isn't everyone's number one choice, but it's easier than you think. Scrambled eggs are one of the most simple breakfast items, and adding spinach is an easy go to. Since spinach reduces so much in size, it’s perfect for any egg scramble or omelet. Green breakfast bowls, with sautéed kale and eggs is also delicious (and a great way to use up any leftover veggies you may have like I did in the example below). You can create a well-balanced breakfast with a good portion of greens and plenty of protein to keep you full all morning.
Everyone thinks wraps are a healthy/lighter choice over bread or a bun, however most of them actually contain more calories! Large leafy greens make the perfect wrap alternative – providing crunch and the most nutrient dense wrap out there. Collard green leaves, raw or quickly blanched, makes awesome wrap or burger bun alternative. I also love to use boston lettuce as a fajita or wrap alternative.
4. Soups & Stews
In my opinion, one of the easiest ways to add greens is to incorporate them in dishes you already make. Take your favourite dish, and throw in some greens; think chili, curries, stews and soups. Kale makes a great addition to any vegetable minestrone or chili. Top soups and stews with arugula and watercress for a peppery bite.
5. Side Dish - Sautéed Greens
Cruciferous greens like cabbage and Swiss chard make a simple and satisfying side dish. Sautée with onions and garlic for flavour, or add a splash of soy sauce and sesame seeds for an Asian flare. Sautéing these greens in good quality oil actually helps you absorb their fat-soluble vitamins A and K, so eat them up!
6. Seasoning and garnishes
Fresh herbs qualify as leafy greens too! Even though they are small in size, they pack a HUGE nutritional punch! I do not recommend chowing down on a handful of basil or oregano, but recommend adding them to your cooking. Not only will you enjoy more flavourful food, you will also be benefiting from the added nutrients of often-overlooked green leafy vegetables. Add them to smoothies, as toppings on your eggs, in wraps, or season soups and stews with them.
Skip the potato chips and try kale chips! They are easy to make or you can find them in most grocery or health food stores these days. There are a million different recipes floating around the internet that use various spices and flavours to customize kale chips but you can try this simple recipe:
Remove stem from leaves. Tear leaves into small pieces. Toss with olive oil; sprinkle with sea salt. Bake at 350°F just until crisp.
Basil’s not the only leafy green for pesto! Replace half or more of the basil in any pesto recipe with the leafy green of your choice. It will taste just as good but provide a larger variety of nutrients!
Spaghetti sauce is another easy way to incorporate greens, much like you can with chilis and stews. Top it on some zucchini noodles and you’ve got a veggie-filled amazing dinner!
Add just half a cup of spinach in your next batch of hummus, it will lend it a lovely green hue (not to mention bonus micronutrients) without adding any unwanted bitterness. Similarly, if you puree your guacamole, a handful of any leafy green makes a great addition. You can also use romaine or butter lettuce leaves in place of chips or crackers to scoop up hummus and guac.
Have a favourite muffin or brownie recipe? Blend in a couple handfuls of spinach to your batter before baking for a hidden dose of greens. Or you don't have to hide them and make them fun and green without adding food colouring like these green banana muffins I made last year for St.Patrick’s Day!
BONUS # 11 Greens Powders
- I always recommend whole foods first, but if you want a quick and easy solution for high potency phytonutrients, greens powders are a great alternative.
- This is my favourite brand
- Perfect for addition to any smoothie, or simply blended in water, greens+ is more than just greens containing 23 sources of plant based nutrients, antioxidants and probiotics as well. Greens+ has been proven to elevate blood antioxidant status. Combined with the proven pH balancing and energy boosting elements abilities of the formula, this one of a kind phytonutrient formula protects and balances your body, and most importantly, makes you feel amazing!