Every morning, I start my day with a glass of green drink. I make a green smoothie, with fruit and whatever dark leafy greens I have a taste for that day. Or I make blended greens, with just dandelion greens, fresh-squeezed lemon juice and water.
And to tell you the truth, I like the dandelion drink the best. The bitterness finally tastes good to me! And it completely mellows me out and cleans me out as I start my day. ;) And of course, it floods my body with powerful nutrients in the process. I call it my liquid sunshine.
Dark leafy greens are, in fact, the healthiest foods on the planet. Whether it's dandelions, arugula, beet greens, cabbage, chard, collards, kale, mustards, spinach, turnip greens, or others, dark leafy greens are the most nutritious foods you can eat. And they're also inexpensive (typically $2 to $3 a pound for fresh, organic greens), so they give you the most bang for your buck of all foods.
Dark leafy greens have so many health benefits that researchers have yet to study them all. What we do know is that the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in green leafies can help prolong our lives; decrease our risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and cancers; build strong bones; and even improve memory.
And yet, nearly 90% of Americans don't eat the minimum recommended daily amount ofany vegetables, which is just 3 cups of raw, cooked, blended or juiced veggies.
So in case you're in that number, here are 7 easy ways to add more dark leafy greens--the healthiest vegetables--to your daily routine:
1) Drinks - Start your day with a green smoothie, blended greens, or juice. Smoothies and blended greens are best for daily intake and long-term health maintenance because they're loaded with fiber. Juiced greens, which contain little fiber, are good for short-term cleansing and detoxifying, or just to add more variety to your repertoire. I wrote more about the difference in Juices or Smoothies: Which Are Better?
2) Salads - This one's pretty obvious, but I highly recommend eating a large salad with different types of dark leafy greens as a base, like my signature All Hail the Kale Salad. You'll love it and so will the folks at the summer cookout. (Trust me on that! )
3) Wraps - This is one of my favorite ways to eat greens. Anything that I'd put in a tortilla, pita or nori roll, I can also put in a collard green leaf or cabbage leaf. I don't have a recipe of my own to show you (I'll work on that!), but here's one from One Green Planet, a great online resource for vegan recipes.
4) Soups - You can make vegetable soup, of course, but you can also add thinly chopped slivers of dark leafy greens to any soups and stews you make. Treat them just as you would fresh basil, cilantro or parsley. You'll increase the nutrient content of the dish exponentially, without changing the taste. It's also a great way to get veggie-avoiding kids and adults to eat their greens.
5) Sauces - Ditto #4, but add your slivers of dark leafy greens to pasta sauces, gravies, curries, and more.
6) Steamed - Using a pot and steamer basket, steam your dark leafy greens until they're just wilted, but still bright green. About 2 to 3 minutes is all it takes for fragile greens like arugula and spinach, and about 6 to 8 minutes for sturdier greens like kale and collards. Remember, greens are like fruit in that they're already done. You don't have to cook them. (And you should definitely stop cooking them to death like your grandmother did!)
7) Sauteed - The healthiest way to saute greens is to use about 2 to 3 tablespoons of water, instead of oil, over medium heat. The greens will taste just as delicious, especially with onions and garlic and your favorite seasonings. But if you do want to use oil, try healthier olive, safflower or sesame oils. My delish Spicy Collard Greens can be made with or without oil.
And there you have it, fam! Seven simple ways to eat the most powerful food on the planet. So go ahead and eat more dark leafy greens every day. Your body will love you for it! :)
Have a great rest of the week!