Words and photos by: Mackenzie Piccaretto, Certified Herbalist and Integrative Holistic Health Coach
So most of us know that we should be eating more veggies, specifically dark leafy greens, right? We’re even told as kids to “finish your greens” or “eat your vegetables if you want dessert”. Green vegetables, in particular, are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to keep us healthy. They aid in detoxification, protect our cells against disease, keep us hydrated, and provide lots of fiber.
It’s a pretty widely understood concept that our bodies need greens for many reasons, so why does it often seem difficult to incorporate enough of them throughout our day? We tend to get stuck in a rut using the same foods over and over again; it’s actually been proven that when given an option, Americans will choose lettuce, one of the least nutritious greens out there, as their top pick. Don’t get me wrong, lettuce is not a bad choice and there is not one green that necessarily trumps all others in nutritional value. However, it’s a good idea to switch things up. For example, some are higher in Vitamin A (Romaine) and others have way more calcium (Collard Greens). The ideal situation is to mix up your rotation and use a variety in your diet.
There’s also a misconception that the only way to eat more greens is to make more salads or choke down that steamed kale with zero flavor. Not true! I’ve included a handful of ideas below for you to incorporate more greens in both a flavorful and unique way. (Confession: I hate plain, steamed vegetables; it doesn’t have to be that way, I promise!).
1. Throw them in your next egg scramble.
This is one of my favorite ways to get more greens onto my plate. It’s super easy, the combinations are endless, and what doesn’t taste amazing with eggs? You can sauté everything from swiss chard or spinach to mustard greens or kale with a little salt/pepper/olive oil. Simply add in your other go-to ingredients from there and you have yourself a nutritious and filling breakfast.
My current combo on repeat: Two eggs. Kale. Leeks. Cherry Tomatoes. Goat Cheese.
2. Make a non-traditional pesto.
This may sound kind of basic, but it’s an interesting way to pack in more greens outside of the usual basil variety. My absolute favorite pesto is this Kale Pistachio Pesto, I use it on everything from eggs and sandwiches to marinades and dressings. To be honest, it’s hard to not just eat it straight from the jar. With spinach, kale, and a ton of garlic and lemon, it’s addicting and much more nutrient-packed than your average pesto.
3. Switch up your salad routine.
Do you ever find yourself reaching for the same bag of mixed greens or romaine every week at the grocery store? You might not even consciously have to think about it anymore. Instead, maybe you could experiment with different choices by trying kale, arugula, endive, red leaf lettuce, or even adding parsley (which packs a seriously nutritious punch). Collard greens are wonderful used as wraps and bok choy is delicious sautéed with a little garlic or soy sauce. Whether it’s a warm or cold salad, you might surprise yourself with a new favorite!
The dressing I use for (almost all) salads: 1 tsp dijon grain mustard, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp honey, 1 tbsp lemon juice, ¼ cup olive oil, salt + pepper.
4. Give your smoothies or juices a boost.
This is probably one of the easiest ways to incorporate more greens into your diet, mostly because you can’t even taste them! There are definitely people on one end of the spectrum who will throw in even more greens and enjoy that straightforward flavor. For the rest of us who don’t love the taste of a kale smoothie, this is a great way to get all of the green nutrients, without the strong taste. Just add some acidity to your smoothies or juices and you’ll be surprised how great it is; some of my favorites include: lemons, limes, pineapples, green apples, or oranges.
Try this Tropical Green Smoothie; it’s so good that even your kids will love it!
5. Hide them in anything you can.
This may sound a little dramatic, but once you start getting creative, it becomes super easy (and fun) to sneak those greens in. A great example would be homemade veggie burgers or savory pancakes. I’ve recently been making these Buckwheat Spinach Crepes, which are so easy and can be stored in the freezer! You can fill them with whatever you’d like and the spinach is honestly undetectable.
P.S- They’re gluten free!
Did you know that you have have your greens and other groceries delivered right to you door? Order online here and enter “APRILDELIVERY” to have your delivery fee waived. (Valid 4/1-4/30. Limit one free delivery per customer).