By Sybil Pritchard, Dietetic Intern for Morrison Healthcare
It’s no secret that the majority of Americans do not eat enough vegetables, especially leafy greens. Leafy greens are extremely nutrient dense and include foods like spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens and kale. Greens are calorically sparse, which means you can eat as much as you like without adding an excess of calories to your diet. They contain nutrients such as beta carotene, iron, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K* and antioxidants. They also contain fiber and water which aid with digestion and keep you feeling full. Leafy greens are more than just for salad; here are some fresh ideas to help you add more green into your diet.
- Add your favorite green vegetable to scrambled eggs or an omelet. Try spinach and cheese.
- Love fruit smoothies for breakfast? Add a few leafy greens. The taste of vegetables will be masked by the sweetness of the fruit.
- Top burgers with spinach or kale instead of iceberg lettuce. Iceberg lettuce adds little nutritional value so by swapping it out with leafy greens, you’ll keep the crunch while also adding additional nutrients.
- Add chopped frozen spinach to spaghetti sauce or lasagna filling. This is another way to “sneak” greens into your diet, especially for those that are averse to the taste.
- Add greens to meatloaf or lentil loaf as another way to add additional nutrients to your diet without impacting the flavor.
- Add a handful of greens to your favorite soup or stir‐fry.
- Make a hash with roasted potatoes, protein of choice and any green vegetable.
- Top a pizza with lots of greens. Pizza is extremely versatile, so as long as you have dough, anything goes!
- Fort Sanders Regional dietitian Beth Booker’s, MS, MPH, RDN, LDN favorite way to enjoy greens – hot salad. It’s a vintage recipe and an unconventional way to use greens of any kind. Simply wilt the greens and top with a homemade vinaigrette dressing.
- Use whatever greens you have on hand in a casserole. Try using a grain, a protein and a few bags of frozen spinach. Mix it together with a can of cream‐of‐something soup, bake until bubbly and you’ve got a delicious, nutritious dinner!
*Some blood thinning medication can have negative effects with vitamin K. Talk to your doctor or dietician before increasing or decreasing your average leafy green intake.