Most people know that dark leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses. These nutrient-dense goodies are loaded with everything from iron, calcium and magnesium to vitamins C and K. However, figuring out how to get these delicious delicacies into your diet can be a challenge, particularly for those of us who are used to a vegetarian diet based on bread and cheese, or even a vegan diet made up of Tofurkey deli slices and bagels with peanut butter.
When I first became vegan I knew that eating kale, collards, and chard would be good for me (heck, it would be good for anyone) but I didn’t know how to integrate them into my daily meals. Now, several years later, I can’t imagine a day without my greens. Here are my top four favorite ways to slip greens into daily life
Blend it up
In my house we almost always start the day with a smoothie. My personal favorite is my green smoothie but you could even throw a few leaves of kale into a blueberry or strawberry smoothie. If you are just starting with greens in your smoothie, try about a 1/2 cup of frozen leaves (kale or collards work well), and then add more as you get used to the taste. Or, try a full on green smoothie with a cup or two of greens, frozen mango, a banana, orange juice and a bit of soymilk. It’s my favorite way to start a summer morning!
Serve it in soup
I recently made a lentil soup that called for lentils (obviously) onions, carrots and celery. Of course, I added in some beet greens! I put greens in almost every soup I make, even it the recipe doesn’t call for it. It’s easy to add greens – just chop up a bunch of collards, kale or other hearty green and add it in for the last 10-15 minutes of time that the soup cooks. No need to add extra stock or adjust anything – the greens just make a tasty and healthy addition.
Perfectly green pasta
Since I have two young kids, pasta makes an appearance at our dinner table quite a lot. I almost always add in some greens to round out this carb-centric dinner. I just add chopped greens to the pasta for the last 5-10 minutes of cooking. Then I drain the pasta (and the greens) put it back in the pot, add the sauce, heat it all back up and dinner is ready to go!
On the side
Of course, sometimes I love some straight greens on the side. My favorite way to prepare kale is simply to sauté some garlic in olive oil for a bit and then add a freshly washed bunch of kale or chard (chopped up of course). Then I cover the pan, let it steam a bit (5-10 minutes depending on the greens) and the stir it and serve it. It’s a quick and easy side dish!
I will admit that cutting and washing greens can be a bit of a drag on a weeknight when dinner has to come together quickly. My solution to that has been to cut, wash and bag greens (mostly kale and collards) on Sunday and then store them in the fridge. With a little bit of prep work chopping and washing greens on the weekend, you can have greens ready to add to any meal of the week!
How do you enjoy your greens?