Are you getting your green leafies in on a daily basis? We all know that they’re packed with vitamins, but these greens are true superfoods both for health and weight loss! They’re a great source of vitamins A, C and K, are full of healthy antioxidants, and also provide iron and calcium in the diet. Dark leafy greens are an excellent source of fiber and have close to no calories, so they’ll help fill you up at meals and snacks. The fiber in the greens also helps slow down and aid digestion.
The US Department of Agriculture recommends three cups of dark leafy greens per week, but I’d recommend you try to get at least 2 servings per day. Eating your greens along with sources of healthy unsaturated fats such as olive oil, nuts, salad dressings, canola oil and fish greatly improves the absorption of the vitamins and minerals present in the greens. If you can, splurge for organic greens as industrially grown greens are often sprayed with high amounts of pesticides which are applied directly to the leaves – the part of the plant we eat.
Let’s have a quick review of the veggies included in the green leafy category. Greens like mustard greens, collard greens, chard, arugula and kale all have a bit of an earthy, bitter flavor but it’s worth trying to sneak them into your food. Spinach is a more palatable green and its flavor is mild enough to eat it raw. Broccoli is my favorite dark leafy green – it’s tasty and there are lots of ways to dress it up! Below are 15 easy ways to sneak these dark leafy greens into your diet each day. It IS easy being green!
1. Throw ’em into your smoothie! If you make yourself a protein or a fruit smoothie every day, toss in some bitter greens. The fruits will help mask the bitter flavor, and you’ll be getting your greens in without even noticing. Do note that they WILL change the color of your smoothie, so if that weirds you out, drink it out of a non-see-through container.
2. Spike your soups. If you eat soups on a regular basis, spike them with greens! Again, the key to incorporating the bitter greens for many of us will mean masking their flavor. Throw them into veggie soups, chicken noodle, or make up your own soup with broth, greens, noodles, onion and spices.
3. In your morning omelet. Spinach works well in omelets and the other greens do too. Load up your omelets with lots of different veggies including the dark leafy greens to give your eggs some extra flavor.
4. Sauteed greens. Many green leafy veggies take on a whole new milder flavor when sauteed with garlic and onion. Give this easy sauteed kale recipe from Epicurious a try.
5. Try some new recipes with greens in the leading role! If there’s anything vegetarians, and especially vegans know about, it’s making veggies taste really good. Check out some vegetarian cookbooks or websites to find some new ways to serve up kale, collards or mustard greens. Here’s a great article from Cooking Light with 14 different kale recipes!
1. Italian Style! Top your home made pizza with spinach or throw it in your pasta sauce while it’s cooking. The spinach actually improves the taste of the tomato sauce and adds a healthy twist.
2. Spinach Salad. Swap out the lettuce in your salads for spinach and you’ll be getting more vitamins and minerals in your diet. Spinach is also more flavorful – I actually prefer its flavor to lettuce. I like to make an easy salad of spinach, diced tomatoes, grated carrot and chopped cucumber. To this, I add a little olive oil and red wine vinegar and top with sunflower seeds, walnuts, canned tuna, avocado or hummus to add flavor and combine with healthy fats.
3. Add spinach to your sandwich. If you pack a sandwich each day for lunch, add a layer of spinach to it. It’s tasty and will round out your meal with more veggies.
4. Stir fry your spinach. If stir fries are part of your repertoire, add spinach to the mix of veggies toward the end. It will wilt down to just about nothing, and you’ll get additional vitamins and minerals without even noticing the extra ingredient.
5. Mexican style. Mexican food like enchiladas, tacos or tostadas are easy to make and can be a great staple for a healthy diet. Throw spinach into the enchiladas before you bake or substitute spinach for the lettuce in tacos or tostadas and you’ve got an even healthier quick meal!
1. Add cheddar. Steam a little broccoli and then grate cheddar on top. Pop into the microwave for about 30 seconds and voila! This is healthy and ridiculously tasty!
2. Dip it. If you don’t mind raw broccoli, it can be a great treat when dipped in hummus or guacamole. Both of these healthy saturated fats will help you absorb broccoli’s vitamins more effectively!
3. Add to potato salad. Potato salad with low fat mayo is a tasty diet-friendly side dish that can be made more nutritious by adding a little bit of finely chopped steamed broccoli.
4. Sautee it with garlic. Try this to give your broccoli a flavor boost. Chop up a little garlic and sautee it in some olive oil. Add a little grated lemon and the broccoli and stir fry for about 2 minutes.
5. Spice it up. Cook your broccoli for 2 minutes in boiling water. Meanwhile mix olive oil, a little dijon mustard, lemon juice, green onion and a bit of cilantro in a bowl. Combine the broccoli with the dressing and sprinkle some crushed peanuts on top.
No matter how you choose to add them to your diet, you’ll definitely reap the benefits of eating more dark leafy greens – both in your health and your waistline. Our Athlean-XX for Women diet plan will help you learn exactly how to eat to maximize your weight loss and energy. The plan is actually very easy, flexible and encourages you to eat MORE. You’ll fill up on healthy foods, eating 5 – 6 times a day to keep your metabolism and energy levels primed for maximum fat burning…not to mention the endurance you’ll need for our tough 30 minute workouts! If you’re looking for a complete nutrition and exercise solution that will have you looking and feeling better in 90 days, give Athlean-XX for Women a try!