Eat greens! 6 ways to sneak more greens into your diet.

Leafy green vegetablesYep. It’s the obligatory green food post for St. Patrick’s Day. I’m Irish. On both sides. I couldn’t resist.

Besides, it’s spring. And spring means more dark leafy greens at the farmer’s market or in your garden…and a body that’s craving light and “expansive” energy as we enter a time of year full of new beginnings.

If you hate greens, don’t worry – I’d be willing to bet that you just haven’t found a type of green that you like or a way of preparing it that works for you. I could list the health benefits of eating greens, but that’s a total waste of time if you refuse to put them in your mouth.

Suffice to say that if you’re human, you could probably stand to sneak in a few more greens. Chard, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, mustard greens, kale, arugula, collards, beet greens, watercress, napa cabbage…the list is nearly endless. Make March the “month of greens” and try them all at least once. I bet you’ll find one you like (or one that you used to like but have forgotten about).

Once you find them, try these quick ways to prepare your greens:

  1. Blend them. Smoothies. Best way EVER to get in an extra serving of greens, especially if you hate them. Throw some greens into a blender with frozen fruit, a little agave syrup, some ice, nut milk, and a little flavoring (almond butter is my fav) and hit blend. You start your day ahead of the game, and with the right mix of ingredients, you won’t even know the greens are there. Some favorite combos: Blueberries + spinach + almond milk + almond butter + agave + cocoa powder. Mango + chard + coconut milk + cardamom + agave + chia seed.
  2. Sauté them. My default way to prepare greens for lunch or dinner is sautéed with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and a little sea salt. Garlic makes everything taste better. :)
  3. Rip ’em to shreds. Don’t be all fussy about chopping dark leafy greens. With kale and chard, grab the stem and just rip the leaves right off. Then, tear them into bite-sized pieces before you cook them. Broccoli: Get a pair of kitchen scissors and cut the florets right into the pot. Done. Unless you’re a Top Chef contestant, no one cares…I promise.
  4. Blanch them. “Blanching” is just a fancy cooking term for throwing your greens in a pan with an inch or so of boiling water and cooking them just until they turn a bright and vibrant green. After blanching, drain your greens and toss them with your favorite oil (sesame and almond oil are great) and some nuts or seeds. Whatever you have handy. (Make sure your kitchen is stocked!)
  5. Toss them. Make salads with dark greens like spinach or mesclun – iceberg and romaine lettuces are mostly water and fiber – plus a few other yummies. To make a killer entreé-worthy salad, think sweet  + crunchy + protein + a little fat. For example, apples (sweet, crunchy), avocado (protein, “good” fat), sunflower seeds (crunchy, “good” fat), balsamic vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil, and greens. Protein could also be beans, nuts, chicken, or some other lean meat (or fish, even). Great way to use leftovers.
  6. Cheat ’em. Fresh greens are best but frozen or bagged will do the trick. Keep frozen broccoli in your freezer and bags of pre-washed greens in your fridge. They cost a little more, but they’re worth it for keeping greens handy!

What’s your favorite dark leafy green? How do you get a few extra servings into your diet each day?

Is “what’s for dinner?” the scariest part of your day?

You’re invited to join me for Meal Planning for Busy People: How to Plan AND Prepare A Week of Meals in JUST 3 HOURS! on March 29, 2012 at 7p ET. Call-in from anywhere to learn how to build fresh, tasty, whole foods meals into your life WITHOUT spending all day in the kitchen. REGISTER BY MARCH 15 FOR $25 – ONLY 5 EARLY BIRD SPOTS LEFT. Learn more and register now!