This may or may not come as a surprise to you but I effing love vegetables. All of them. I havent met one I don't like and green ones in particular I take a special liking to. Now, I know you have heard it hundreds of times: eating vegetables is vital for your health but studies show that diets higher in plant based foods are linked with lower rates of chronic illness including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Unfortunately for many people vegetables are not enjoyable foods to eat. And we're not just talking about childern here either. Think about your friends and family for a minute. I bet that you can name at least one adult who struggles to get enough vegetables in their diet simply because they do not like them or don't know clever ways to sneak them in. Share this list with them and start utilizing them in your daily life to up your vegetable game!
I focused on green vegetables for this list because it is my favorite color for foods (hello avocados) and the health benefits of leafy greens and green vegetables are off the chart. Just to name a few:
Vitamin K- California researchers found that it plays a roll in preventing several age realted conditions including kidney function, cardiovascular disease, bone and artery health. One-cup raw serving of nealy every leafy green has your daily reccomended dose if not more. For example Kale has 6 x, dandelion greens 5x, chard 3.5x.
Vision Health- Leafy greens like kale and swiss chard among others are great sources of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that help protect against damaging light, decresase the risk for cataracts and help with vision overall. Think outside of carrots !
Antioxidant powerhouses- antioxidants play a major role in protecting your body against free radicals and help slow the aging process. Eating atleast 3 servings of different greens will get you the protection you need.
Phytonutrients - these are special chems found in green things that do the body good like boost your immune system and protect your cells from damage.
B5 & Energy- leafy greens are high in B5 which helps fuel the body so you have energy to crush it in life.
Calcium bitches- Forget cows milk which is inflammatory ground zero for the body and turn to bitter leafy greens like kale, dandelion greens, mustard greens, swiss chard and collards for your bone health.
Cleans out the Colon- A study published by Journal of the American Dietetic Association found a corralation between eating plants in the nutrient-rich Brassica family to have a decreased chance of colon cancer. Think kale, mustard greens, broccoli and cabbage.
Low in calories and carbs- you can eat as much of these as you want and mostly likely you'll stay fit. Its one of the reasons I love being on a plant based diet..., I have a HUGE appetite and love eating.
The key is to mix it up and eat a wide variety of green fruits and vegetables so you get a broad spectium of vital nutrients that the bod needs to thrive.
Some of my favorite green things are brussels, broccoli, kale, spinach, arugula, cucumber, avocado, swiss chard, cilantro, parsley, kiwi
Here are some fun ways to get in your greens:
1. Smoothies- try mixing a big handful of spinach & small handful of kale with banana, kiwi, almond milk, hemp seeds and chia seeds in a high speed blender. Other combos include: kale, pinneapple, banana, coconut water, lime juice. Or spinach, cilantro, cucumber, celery, lemon, zuchinni, almond milk for a savory smoothie.
2. Breakfast Salads- this is one of my all time favorite ways to get in my greens- I will toss some mixed greens (spinach, kale, lettuce, cabbage, whateves) in a bowl with some balsamic and avo oil and put an over easy egg on top. A runny yolk is damn good on top of greens. Add some avocado toast, roasted veggies and you have yourself one helluva breakfast.
Sandwiches - skip the iceberg and use arugula, kale or spinach on your sandwich for a healthier version. Add in some fresh herbs like cilantro or basil, spread on kale pesto (link below), avocado slices and sprouts for good measure.
PESTO- sneak it in a delicious way that no one will notice: PESTO- Try this recipe for Kale pesto, and sub in any green you want: arugula, spinach, fennel tops, carrot tops, or beet tops ect. You can put pesto on just about anything- pasta, rice, roasted or raw veggies, toasts and sandwiches
Macro Bowls and Meal Prep- whenever you are tossing some food together or planning out meal prep be sure to add some greens to your plate. This could be adding in spinach to pasta, cauliflower rice, smoothies, eggs, salads, stir frys..., you name it. In the picture below I added some sauted kale, roasted broccolini and avocado to my hummus and falafel plate for a wellrounded and balanced meal.
be sure to check out my Instagram for more tips and tricks. you can find me at CARASKITCHEN