Health Benefits of Eating Dark, Leafy Greens

It's time to get green in the New Year!  

Dark, leafy green vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense foods out there.  If you are looking to make one food-related resolution this New Years, instead of trying to restrict yourself to a ridiculous diet or put unrealistic expectations of how often you are going to cook complicated meals at home, consider making it simple: Eat More Greens.  Why?  I'm glad you asked...

A couple of the health benefits of leafy greens:

  • high in fiber, which is good for your digestive health
  • high in calcium, which is good for bone and teeth health but also blood clotting, and heart and nerve function
  • high in iron, which is needed for red blood cell production (preventing anemia)
  • good source of Vitamins C, K, carotenoids and folate, which are thought to be cancer-protective for many cancers and

My favorite dark, leafy greens:

  • KALE.  If you've ever read my email signature, you know I love me some kale.  It's sturdy so you get great texture and it makes good leftovers for 2-3 days as a salad or sauteed.  Not ideal, but hey, we're being realistic here.  Also, I love kale's neutral taste.  Since it's not as bitter as other greens, I find that its very easy to add to pretty much any dish.  Oh and I do.

  • FRESH SPROUTS.  I'm a sucker for anything tiny and adorable, so when you take one thing I love (greens) and combine it with another (tiny-ness), I'm a goner.  Sprouts are high in nutrients and easy to grow at home in the dead of winter.  They make a glam garnish and make a homemade Depression Meal look like something that came from a high end restaurant.
     
  • BRUSSELS SPROUTS. I know, again with the tiny things.  The little leaves of Roasted Brussels Sprouts get so nice and crispy, I *almost* feel like I'm eating something fried.  Also fried Brussels sprouts are pretty fantastic too.
     
  • MACHE.  A slightly more unusual salad, green, mache leaves are held together in a unit like watercress.  I love it's slightly bitter and juicy taste and think it makes a salad more interesting and elegant that mixed baby greens.
     
  • COLLARD GREENS.  I didn't grow up eating many collard greens, but boy, was I missing out.  Another robust green like kale, I like to mix it with something sweet like carrots or caramelized onions.  Collards are another great green when you are planning for leftovers or looking for something that won't dissolve when you toss it into soup.

If you are looking to up your green intake in 2016, try my top 3 tips: 

1. Keep bagged baby greens on hand.  Although they aren't the most environmentally friendly way to purchase leafy greens, they are definitely the easiest.  If you are making a switch to a a greener diet, make it easy on yourself and pick up this convenience food.  I almost always have a bag of baby spinach in the fridge.

2.  Buy a salad spinner.  A salad spinner quickly dries off greens after you rinse them with a few pumps of your hand, so cleaning a big batch of kale doesn't need to be An Event.  Bonus?  Kids and boyfriends can do this task too if you are looking to outsource some kitchen prep.

3. Make sure you are eating at least one leafy green a day.  This can be the spinach in your Smoothie Jars, brussels sprouts in your salad or even a spicy and warming bowl of Saag Tofu for dinner.  Make a game out of it at first but used to seeing green on the plate daily, so that it feels weird if a green-free day goes by.  (Come on, join us...)

Want a little direction?  

Double up on your leafy greens this week (you A+ student), by trying my Brussels Sprout Salad with Leeks and Almonds.  I combine raw shredded brussels sprouts with kale for a fresh take on a lunch salad.  Caramelized leeks add sweetness and dimension and toasted almonds add crunch and protein and fat to make this salad hearty.  Get your greens!