Lucious Leafy Greens

greens

Many of my clients considered ‘leafy green veggies’ unappetizing before they came to me for counseling.  The first thing that came to their minds when I mentioned ‘leafy green veggies’ was “Well, I eat Iceberg Lettuce”! O boy, I thought…we’ve got some work to do and this is going to be fun.  This is what I love about being a Nutritionist.  I truly love making a difference in the way my clients eat and make them realize that this pale lettuce, once so ubiquitous in restaurant salads, does not have the power-packed goodness of other delicious greens.

Before my clients came to me for counseling, they either forgot about these nutrient-rich, flavorful foods or got scared off by the idea of preparing them.

Learning to cook and eat greens is essential for creating lasting health.  It is a simple, easy way to boost your daily diet.  The next time you are at the farmers market or in your local food store, be sure to add some of the following greens to your shopping list: Arugula, Bok Choy, Broccoli Rabe, Cabbage, Collards, Chicory, Dandelion, Escarole, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Watercress and many other varieties of lettuce.

Leafy green veggies help strengthen our respiratory and circulatory systems.  They are high in magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K.

Leafy green veggies are packed with folic acid, chlorophyll, fiber and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.  Moreover, they help with blood purification, cancer prevention, improving circulation, strengthening your immune system and improving gall bladder, kidney and live function.  They are also a great ally in the Fall when cold season begins because greens can help clear congestion and reduce mucus.

Surprisingly, greens are not as complicated as they may appear  Try a variety of cooking methods such as boiling, sauteing in olive oil, steaming, blanching, roasting or chopping up for salads and snacks.  Chopping raw veggies for salads and snacks takes only a few minutes to rinse and prepare.  Cooking greens takes a couple of minutes of prep time and about two minutes of cooking time.  You can experiment with cooking your greens with seeds, nuts, beans, butter, tofu, seital, tempeh, chicken, turkey, fish, ground meat, eggs, etc.  Green veggies are easy to add to homemade or prepared soups or stews right before serving.

Try to get into the habit of adding these green veggies to your diet as often as possible.  While veggies are the scarcest food in the American diet, leafy green veggies area is lacking most of all.

Give some of these green leafy veggies a try and see how you feel!  Let me know what you think about the different flavors and textures of these delicious greens…I’m interested to hear!

Uproot from the Green Basics

While everyday veggies such as broccoli and spinach are great for your health, be adventurous and try these other dark greens that pack a flavorful and nutrient-dense punch.

  • Kale- This leafy green is easy to grow and thrives in cold temps.  The beautiful leaves provide an earthy flavor and excellent nutritional value.  I love making ‘kale wraps’ where I wrap kale leaves around my fish and chicken for a fun finger food!
  • Collard Greens- A staple of traditional Southern cooking, this nutritional powerhouse provides vitamins A, C, calcium, iron and magnesium.  Collard greens are delicious to bake with and I love adding collards to my baked fish recipes.
  • Bok Choy- This veggie has a light, sweet flavor and a crisp texture.  Toss some bok choy into stir-fries, Asian dishes or soups.
  • Escarole- This curly Italian green has a bitter taste.  As you remove the leaves, you will experience different degrees of flavor! As the leaves are peeled back, they continue to lighten in shade and bitterness.

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Get Those Kids Cookin’…

Ever wonder how to get your kids involved in the kitchen? Here are a few tips that I offer to my clients…whether you have young children, nieces, nephews, neighbors, family or friends…these tips are sure to get your little ones active and entertained in the kitchen.


  • Cucumber Caterpillar: Slices of cucumber held together with natural peanut butter. Place the Caterpillar on ‘greens’ to look like grass.
  • Taco or Burrito Bar: Serve brown rice, black beans, onions, hot peppers, sprouted grain or gluten free tortillas, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, guacamole and  salsa.  Add nuts, seeds and spices in tiny serving dishes to jazz up the flavors!
  • Salad Bar: Spin your greens in a salad spinner, then dress dry greens with a lime dressings made by combining sesame oil, fresh lime juice, low-sodium tamari, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, balsamic vinegar and water.
  • Mashed Potato Parfaits- Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and carrots mixed together…topped with raisins, cinnamon, shredded coconut and agave nectar
  • Individual Pizzas: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Choose gluten free or sprouted whole grain tortillas, caramelized onions, spinach, red onion, mushrooms, kalamata olives, artichokes, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add each ingredient atop each tortilla and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Panini Party: Gluten Free or sprouted whole grain bread, SoyaKaas Gluten Free/Dairy Free cheese, tomato slices, eggplant slices, fresh basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, avocado, zucchini and squash slices.  Add all ingredients to 2 slices of bread.  Place onto a panini maker (sprayed with cooking spray); cook until cheese is melted and veggies are warm and cooked.  Dip into marinara (red) sauce.
  • Stir-Fry: Switch up your usual recipe with unique grains such as millet, quinoa or buckwheat.
  • Fruit Salad: Add exotic fruits to spice up the flavors.  Use a melon baller and serve in a wine glass to add to the allure of this meal.  Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt atop each fruit salad serving and sprinkle with cinnamon and stevia.
  • Slaw Wraps: Cabbage, celery, carrots, bok choy, mushrooms, peppers, snap peas, bean sprouts, snow peas, green beans and Napa Slaw can easily be combined and wrapped in rice paper.  Liven up this dish by pairing it with a special sauce of grapefruit juice, ginger, balsamic vinegar, lemonade and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower.  Toss with fresh apples or cumin roasted chick peas.  Adding berries such as blackberries, raspberries and cherries add a nice antioxidant punch to these wraps.
  • Peanut Butter Chicken Fajitas: The best way to make a good peanut sauce is by combining organic peanut butter, fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, agave nectar and low-sodium tamari/soy sauce.
  • Frozen Basil and Banana Pops: Blend together 2 cups ice, 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1 ripe banana, 1 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup agave nectar in a blender.  Blend well and pour into glasses! This is a wonderful treat for a healthy dessert!

Have fun and experiment with some of my ideas above…Getting the kids active in the kitchen is fun…and who knows, your kids may just start to ‘enjoy’ their veggies!!!