How to incorporate leafy greens in a delicious and nourishing way. You've always been told to eat your greens, we could all stand to eat more of them but they aren't exactly at the top of our shopping list. Greens are incredibly nutritious and tasty and with my simple recipes you'll soon love them too!
Leafy greens are among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. The greener they are, the more nutritious and healing they are. Loaded with vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and folic acid (the name derived from the word foliage), greens are also low in calories.
Including greens in your diet on a daily basis can super charge your health due to their ability to improve immune response and prevent disease. Leafy greens are also excellent brain-boosters, blood cleansers and cancer-fighters.
All green vegetables contain chlorophyll which is what helps plants convert energy from the sun. It actually acts nearly the same way inside us, it is molecularly structured nearly the same way as hemoglobin (how incredible!). The only difference between the chlorophyll and hemoglobin molecules is the central atom – chlorophyll’s is magnesium, while hemoglobin’s is iron.
The benefits of consuming chlorophyll-rich foods are numerous, including slowing cellular damage caused by radiation, aiding wound healing by stimulating new cell growth, a blood tonic, neutralising toxins such as pesticides, fighting infection, and improve liver function.
Greens are extremely beneficial for your health and adding them to your diet is a simple and practical way to take care of your health. Greens are also very versatile and can be used in a variety of ways and incorporated into every meal. Leafy greens include spinach, kale, rocket, swiss chard, bok choy, coriander, parsley, lettuce, cabbage and beet greens. Try having a blend of greens rather than sticking to one, to provide you with a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
I've included some of my favourite ways to help you incorporate more greens in delicious and easy ways.
Make a Pesto
I love pesto, other than it being delicious, it's an easy way to up your greens intake in various ways. You can use it in pasta, a sandwich, add to soups or as a dip. It's also a great way to introduce greens to kids. This pesto is vegan and includes cashews for extra creaminess and hemp seeds for added protein and healthy fats.
1 large handful rocket
1 large handful parsley
1 small handful coriander
1 large handful basil
1/4 cup soaked cashews (or if not soaked, pour boiling water over cashews and let it soak for 15 minutes)
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds
Juice of one lemon plus lemon zest
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Blend in a food processor until smooth or to your desired consistency. You may add more or less olive oil depending on the consistency you like.
Blend it up
Another easy and wonderful way to add more greens are in juices or smoothies. You can start by using neutral greens like spinach and work you way up to stronger flavours like kale, lettuce and chard. Adding sweet fruits like frozen banana or mango are a delicious addition to green smoothies.
"...There's a direct molecular link between eating greens as part of a balanced diet and the health of a person's skin and gut. It demonstrates why eating your greens is good for you."
Super Green Frittata
If you're short on time and don't know what to make, go for a vegetable packed frittata. Eggs are highly nutritious, easy and quick to make, and suitable any time of the day. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids as well as rich in many important nutrients including vitamin D, zinc, calcium and all of the B vitamins.
This recipe is inspired by my Grandmother's Kuku Sabzi, a Persian herb omelet, a delicious way to enjoy your greens.
3 spring onions, finely chopped
4 large eggs
1 cup finely chopped spinach
2 cups finely chopped parsley, coriander, dill and rocket
1/2 cup jumbo oats
Splash of milk (plant based or cow's)
Start by frying the spring onions lightly with butter or coconut oil. While that fries, mix eggs together and add the greens, oats and a splash of milk. Pour into a frying pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Cook, covered, until the bottom has set for about 10 minutes. Then transfer to the oven for 1-2 minutes.
Add to Warm Dishes
If cooking with leafy greens is new to you, I always suggest adding them to warm dishes such as soups or stews, as they will wilt and you will barely notice! Add them in the last few minutes of cooking to keep the nutrients and vibrancy of the greens.
For example, cooking a curry? Throw in some kale. How about a soup? Add some spinach and swiss chard. Fancy pasta? Add herbs like parsley and coriander to enhance the flavour.
Aim for Variety
One of the best nutrition advice is to focus on a variety of vegetables and fruits to ensure you're having as many different kinds of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. Eating a variety of foods help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress as well as keeping your gut microbiome diverse and healthy. Adding more greens to your diet is an easy way to improve your health, I hope you give it a go! My goal when working with clients is finding easy and practical ways to help you feel your best, and adding more greens is a good place to start.