Lucious Leafy Greens

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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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Eating a Rainbow of Colors

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By now, we’ve all heard, “Eat your Veggies”, well there’s a whole rainbow out there of amazing produce known as Superfoods.  Incorporating these babies into your daily diet can fight cancer, improve your memory, and keep those nasty colds away.  So, what are these superfoods that everyone is talking about?

Superfoods are fruits and veggies that are full of antioxidants.  It’s easy to incorporate their rainbow variety into your diet; simply mix n’ match various colors for a plate that is not only pleasing to the eye, but your stomach, as well. 

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Yellow and Orange

  • Oranges
  • Cantaloupe
  • Butternut Squash
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Apricots
  • Our yellow and orange fruits and veggies are packed with antioxidants that boost our immune systems and provide a nice, big dose of Vitamin C.  Moreover, eating fruits and veggies of these colors help ward off age-related eye disease.  I personally love cooking Butternut Squash and making my Butternut Squash Fries, which can be prepared in minutes and popped into the oven.  Another easy way to incorporate these colors into your diet is combining the above fruits into a smoothie.

    Green

    • Avocados
    • Asparagus
    • Cucumbers
    • Leafy Greens
    • Green Peppers
    • Spinach
    • Broccoli

    These greens help relieve the effects of serious eye ailments such as cataracts and macular degeneration.  Moreover, they help clear the arteries that keep blood flowing to your brain.  My favorite way to incorporate greens into my meals is sauteing spinach and collard greens with garlic and pine nuts.

    Tan and White

    • Parsnips
    • Turnips
    • Cauliflower
    • Onions
    • Mushrooms
    • Bananas
    • Garlic

    These guys  may not have a lotta color to them, however, they pack a serious antioxidant punch with phytonutrients that help protect the heart and fight cancer.  My favorite way to eat the “whites and tans” is to roast parsnips in the oven with a sprinkle of cinnamon and chili powder.

    Blue and Purple

    • Blueberries
    • Raisins
    • Purple Grapes
    • Purple Potatoes
    • Eggplant

    These blue food friends supply us with a healthy dose of antioxidants, which are beneficial for memory and motor function.  I personally love to cook Eggplant Parm–(the gluten free/dairy free way), of course.

    Red

    • Tomatoes
    • Cherries
    • Strawberries
    • Watermelon
    • Radicchio

    Red fruits and veggies contain lycopene and flavonoids are important antioxidants to help fight diseases and various cancers.  Try a rice dish with garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and tomatoes.

    What’s your favorite way to incorporate a rainbow into your daily diet?