A true green powerhouse – Eat dark leafy vegetables

When you think of dark, leafy green vegetables, do you realize the variety you can purchase locally in your city or town? We’re speaking about spinach, Swiss chard, kale, bok choy, arugula, herbs such as cilantro, dill and parsley that are rich in vitamin C. That’s a lot of healthy green to choose from! They are most nutrient dense vegetables because of their rich source of minerals and vitamins – including iron, calcium potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, E, K and B complex.

If you’re caring for your eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin are powerful phytonutrients that protect our eyes from age-related health concerns, such as macular degeneration. We usually don’t get enough of our vitamins, especially vitamin K that can be tricky to find in foods yet greens are abundant in this vitamin, that helps regulate our blood clotting, protects our bones and is a key regular of inflammation. For those of us who need to count carbohydrates, greens are low in sugars and high in fibers, regulating our blood sugars while aiding in our digestive health.

How do I cook greens? Luckily, greens cook quickly. If Swiss Chard is not your usual dinner vegetable, it’s a mild tasting green that can be chopped coarsely, steamed with oregano, parsley and minced green onions and served as a side dish. If your kids are having issues with “eating up their veggies”, try sneaking cooked spinach or bok choy in a meat or a turkey loaf. They won’t even realize they’re eating healthy yet you’ll be glad to avoid the usual food battle during dinner! For those of you who just love your vegetables, make “green burgers” by mixing beans or brown cooked rice together with steamed arugula, cilantro, spices, one egg or two egg whites and some bread crumbs or whole wheat flour for an oven baked vegetarian burger.

Stir fry a variety of greens and other fresh produce with baked tofu or grilled chicken to make a colorful yet quick dinner. A tablespoon of sesame oil for a healthy stir fry gives it a lot of flavor, then toss in your minced garlic and onions. Once brown, add some water or low sodium broth and cook your chopped bok choy, kale and grated rainbow carrots. Toss your grilled chicken or tofu with some pepper, paprika and salt (or a no sodium spice). And, voila!

What about some original salad ideas for my greens? Salads are a quick and creative way to just toss a few fresh ingredients you can find in the fridge for a healthy meal or side dish. Both spinach and Swiss chard taste very good when eaten raw. A great way to add crunch to your salads is by roasting raw nuts and seeds – slivered almonds, pecans, cashew nuts or sunflower seeds in a baking pan for a few minutes. Mix together your coarsely chopped spinach, Swiss chard, favorite lettuce leaves, red bell pepper, mushrooms and toss in your roasted nuts or seeds. Whisk together a drizzle of olive oil, vinegar, oregano with minced cilantro in a small bowl and add to your salad.