If you bypass kale, collard greens and bok choy at the grocery store or farmers market, you’re not alone.
Many people don’t eat greens because they don’t know how to prepare them.
Adding greens to your diet is easier than you think, said Shelly Wildenberg, a Marshfield Clinic registered dietitian. You’ll hardly know you’re eating them if you mix a handful in your smoothie or soup.
Next time you’re shopping, pick up some cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard or broccoli and get creative.
Vitamins, minerals and more
Dark green vegetables are rich in vitamins A, B, C and K; minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium; and cancer-fighting antioxidants. Adding greens to your diet strengthens your immune system, vision, bones and brain function.
“About 85 percent of people aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables and are missing out on nutrients,” she said. “Some food manufacturers fortify foods but that’s not as good as getting nutrients in whole food form.”
Greens are low in carbohydrates and fat and you’ll feel full after eating them, which is great for weight loss. They’re also packed with fiber, which lowers cholesterol, reduces your risk for colorectal cancer and improves digestion.
Hide your greens
Adults should eat 2.5-3 cups of veggies every day. Wildenberg recommends making part of your veggie intake leafy greens at least a few times a week. If you don’t want to eat a big bowl of salad, sneak fresh or frozen greens into soups, casseroles, pasta sauce, omelets and smoothies.
“Greens melt into soups and casseroles and you don’t even taste them,” Wildenberg said. “They add a nice color to your dish and lots of vitamins and minerals.”
You don’t have to hide your greens to enjoy them. Save more than 200 calories by using a large kale, collard or Swiss chard leaf instead of a tortilla for tacos. Or try the baked Parmesan kale chips in the recipe below.
Is green juice good for you?
Green juice is all the rage. Some people claim it cleanses your body and promotes weight loss.
Before you run to the juice bar, consider this: You lose the fiber that helps you feel full when you juice vegetables. Juicing can be expensive and popular ingredients in your juice bar favorites, like wheat grass, may be hard to find.
“You can certainly try juicing, but there is no evidence that it’s healthier than eating whole vegetables and fruits,” Wildenberg said.
If you prefer to drink your veggies, mix greens with berries, banana and yogurt for a nutritious smoothie packed with fiber.
Baked Parmesan Kale Chips
Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 15 minutes
- 1 bunch kale
- 1 teaspoon olive oil spray
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray two large baking sheets with oil.
Wash and thoroughly dry kale. Remove leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite-sized pieces. Place on baking sheets, spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake about 10-12 minutes, turning and moving them around as they shrink to make sure they evenly crisp up.
Top with shredded Parmesan cheese, keeping a close eye on them, bake an additional 5-6 minutes until edges are crisp but not burnt. Time will vary depending on your oven.
Each serving contains about 50 calories, 2.8 g fat, 3.4 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g protein, 1.1 g fiber, 126 mg salt (without added salt).