Do you know what the #1 vegetable in the American diet is? Potatoes. That’s right. And how do we most often eat potatoes? As french fries. You got it.
No wonder we as a country are overweight, sick and tired. Not to knock the potato, but there are lots of wonderful vegetables to fill our plates with that give us more nourishment and energy than french fries ever could.
Let’s talk about the vegetables we are most missing from our diets instead: dark, leafy greens. You know, the ones that wave at you from the supermarket produce section? They kind of all look the same? And they might give you terrible flashbacks to your mom’s slimy, boiled side dishes?
Thank goodness you don’t have to cook the way your mom did. Now is a great time to discover all the tasty and healthy ways you can prepare greens for you and your family in a totally non-slimy way!
There are a lot of reasons to dig into a big bowl of greens. For starters, they are full of vitamins, fiber and calcium. Did you hear that? Calcium! But wait, there’s more. Dark, leafy veggies are super low in calorie density. So you can eat a whole head of kale and not feel one ounce of remorse. (If you think I’m crazy to suggest eating that much kale, I’ll change your mind with the recipe at the end of this article.)
Finally, the reason I love to eat greens is because they are full of the sun’s uplifting energy. Leaves full of chlorophyll grow upward and absorb the sun’s energy to fuel photosynthesis. Dark leafy greens are recommended for respiratory health because of their unique function in the plant world.
My clients always tell me that they simply don’t know how to prepare greens. Here are some ways you can experiment with more sunshine-y greens into your diet:
Lots of greens can be eaten raw as part of a salad. The secret is to slice them very thin and allow the leaves to marinate for a few minutes in a vinegar-based dressing. Try swiss chard, kale or even shredded brussels sprouts mixed with your favorite lettuce and salad fixins’. Get a recipe for Kale Confetti Salad here.
Cook ‘em quick
I like to heat some oil and garlic in a pan, then throw in chopped spinach or kale just long enough for it to start to wilt. A squeeze of lemon and dash of red chili pepper and you’re done. More time to watch Idol!
Hide them in other foods
A-ha! This is my favorite. If you don’t want to make a whole meal or side dish of greens, don’t worry. You can sneak them into pretty much any recipe. Meatloaf? Add 1 cup of finely chopped watercress to the meat mixture. Chili? Check out my white chili recipe that uses napa cabbage. Very, very sneaky.
Green snacks are great
I like to use collard leaves as wraps for a hummus snack. Chop off the stem and roll! Or, how about blanched broccoli as a crisp snack that you can bring to the office? Finally, here is the recipe I promised you at the beginning of this article. My husband loves when I make these. Enjoy!
1 head kale (try green curly or dinosaur kale)
1-2 Tbl. olive oil
salt, pepper, and seasoning of your choice
Preheat oven to 375. Wash and shake kale leaves dry. Tear away from the stems and into bite sized pieces. In a large bowl, combine kale with oil, salt and pepper. You can also add parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, ground coriander, nutritional yeast…the variations are up to you! Mix well to evenly coat. Place chips in a single layer on cookie sheets, sprinkle again with seasoning, and bake for 13-15 minutes or until crisp. That’s it! These are so good, you may just eat the whole batch yourself.
Michelle Pfennighaus is a holistic health counselor and registered yoga instructor based in Boston, MA. For many years she suffered from debilitating anxiety and digestive disorders until finally healing herself through changes in diet and lifestyle.
Michelle received training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and a 200 hour yoga teacher program. Currently, she is works with clients all over the country to improve their health and happiness. She also offers cooking classes and workshops for groups.
To learn more about Michelle, visit her website www.FindYourBalanceHealth.com.