Whenever possible, green leafy vegetables should be on your plate. Consumption of green leafy vegetables is not only linked with a reduction in cancer and heart disease, but research suggests the consumption of lutein-containing vegetables (like spinach and kale) improves respiratory health. Lutein is a fat-soluble antioxidant that’s also found in eggs. 1 In addition, a study done in India found that including a snack containing green leafy vegetables, fruit, and milk before and during pregnancy prevented gestational diabetes. 2 That’s important news for your clients that are expecting.
Below are 12 simple ways to enjoy more greens this holiday season!
- Start with breakfast. Add chopped spinach, kale or broccoli to your omelets or frittatas.
- Roast Brussel sprouts. Roasting sweetens and crisps these bitter tiny cabbages. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Clean and slice Brussels sprouts in half. Place sprouts on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes until crispy.
- Use fresh spinach for salads. Spinach makes an excellent salad base and can be used solo or mingled with other greens.
- Try Swiss chard and bean soup. Sautee a medium onion, 3 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery stalks in 2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add 1 clove chopped garlic, 1 tsp. dried oregano and 1 tsp. dried rosemary and stir until the vegetables are coated in spices. Add 1 large bunch cleaned and chopped Swiss chard. Include the chopped stems for more flavor, fiber, and color. Add 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth and 2 cans, drained/rinsed Navy, Great Northern or another white bean. Simmer on medium heat for 30-45 minutes until vegetables are fully cooked.
- Add shaved Brussels sprouts to your salads. Pair with an apple cider vinaigrette made with 1 tsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp. Dijon mustard and a squeeze of honey.
- Keep a fresh bag of spinach leaves to add to leftovers. Place 2 cups spinach leaves at the bottom of your microwave-safe bowl. Top the leaves with your leftover pasta dish, Indian food or another cuisine. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes to reheat. Stir in the spinach once reheated.
- Make a salad with arugula. This peppery green is also known as a garden rocket and is an excellent source of vitamin K and beta-carotene. Pair arugula with chopped pears, blue cheese, slivered almonds and a lemon vinaigrette made with 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard and 1 tsp. honey.
- Serve roasted broccoli at your holiday dinner. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Clean and chop broccoli into 1” pieces (including broccoli stalks). Brush with canola or olive oil and dust with garlic powder and seasoned salt. Roast for 20 minutes and serve.
- Try a kale salad. The secret to kale is to massage it! Place a bunch of cleaned, ripped kale in a gallon-sized plastic bag with 1 tsp. canola or corn oil. Massage the kale in the bag until coated with oil and shiny. Place kale in a large salad bowl with 1 chopped Granny smith or another crisp apple, ¼ cup dried cherries, ¼ cup chopped pecans and ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese. Toss with balsamic vinaigrette and serve.
- Try Brazilian style collard greens. Clean and chop 4 cups of collards. Heat a large skillet to medium heat and add 1 Tbsp. canola or corn oil. Sautee the greens until slightly brown. Add 2 cloves chopped garlic to the greens and cook for 2-3 minutes longer. Add ½ tsp. red pepper flakes and 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and toss before serving.
- Top your favorite pizza with arugula when it’s right out of the oven.
- Add greens to your smoothies. Spinach, kale, or arugula mix in well with bananas, yogurt, and your favorite berries.
1. Melo van Lent D1, Leermakers ETM1, Darweesh SKL1, Moreira EM1, Tielemans MJ1, Muka T1, Vitezova A1, Chowdhury R2, Bramer WM3, Brusselle GG4, Felix JF1, Kiefte-de Jong JC5, Franco OH1. The effects of lutein on respiratory health across the life course: A systematic review. Clin Nutr ESPEN. 2016 Jun;13:e1-e7.
2. Sahariah SA1, Potdar RD1, Gandhi M1, Kehoe SH2, Brown N2, Sane H1, Coakley PJ2, Marley-Zagar E2, Chopra H1, Shivshankaran D1, Cox VA2, Jackson AA3, Margetts BM4, Fall CH5. A Daily Snack Containing Leafy Green Vegetables, Fruit, and Milk before and during Pregnancy Prevents Gestational Diabetes in a Randomized, Controlled Trial in Mumbai, India. J Nutr.2016 Jul;146(7):1453S-60S.
Submitted by Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD
Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and owner of Sound Bites Nutrition in Cincinnati. She shares her clinical, culinary, and community nutrition knowledge through cooking demos, teaching, and freelance writing. Lisa is a regular contributor to Food and Health Communications and Today’s Dietitian and is the author of the Healing Gout Cookbook, Complete Thyroid Cookbook, and Heart Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. Her line of food pun merchandise, Lettuce beet hunger, supports those suffering food insecurity in Cincinnati. For more information, visit her website: https://soundbitesnutrition.com/