Now that you know how to make your healthy diet work for you it’s time to talk about another super important step in creating your outrageously awesome diet: Loading up on tons of healthy greens! Let’s talk about how to make that happen (without feeling like you’re stuck on a sad salad conveyor belt with no means of escape).
Why should you eat your leafy greens?
These babies are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Just take a look at Cruciferous Vegetables, a big part of the leafy green community. We’re talking the good stuff, like arugula, bok choy, brussel sprouts, collard greens, kale, cabbage and mustard greens.
You’d be hard pressed to find another group of veggies overflowing with as much vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and fiber as gorgeous cruciferous babies! You’re also looking at awesome sources of calcium, iron, manganese and so much more!
They’re also astonishingly high in vitamin K, an awesome vitamin that helps to regulate the inflammatory response. This amazing ability may even help to prevent cancer (source). And hey, anything that helps to reduce inflammation is pretty important for autoimmune warriors too.
The amazing nutrients that leafy greens bring to your plate have so much to offer. They help to support your digestion and your cardiovascular system as well as reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. These lovely veggies also help you look and feel your best and allow your body to function optimally. You really can’t have a healthy diet without them.
But if healthy greens are pretty foreign to you, like they once were for me, or are simply not something you find overly exciting, how do you make sure to add them to your diet everyday?
Here are 5 Super Simple Ways to Incorporate More Healthy Greens Into Your Diet
1. Plan Ahead
It’s easier to venture into new territory with a good game plan. If you have a busy week ahead or are just starting to create your healthy foodie lifestyle, meal planning can be such a huge help! Not only will this help you to keep on track with your healthy diet, but it can totally make it easier to achieve foodie goals, liking eating more healthy greens.
Of course, we can never be 100% sure what we’ll be craving day by day, and feeling the need to plan each and every meal for the week may not be overly realistic. But having a rough idea of two or three green-filled recipes you’d like to make over the course of the week and the staples you’ll need to make healthy eating delicious and fun (think dressings, hummus, grains, legumes etc.) can help you move forward with ease.
Super bonus, you can use this plan to make a grocery list. Two birds, one stone!
If you need a little help adjusting to the whole idea of meal planning, the lovely Kelli Magrath has you covered right here.
2. Check Out Your Local Farmers Market
If you want to eat more greens, you have to have more greens… and ideally, it’d be pretty awesome if you could do that and save moolah while you’re at it! That’s where the Farmers Market saves your butt!
Buying straight from the farmer cuts out the middle man, often saving you some serious dough. And that means you can load up on so much more!
The awesome doesn’t end their – you also have the opportunity to get to know the farmers and ask questions. Are you passionate about organic farming? Want to support farmers that raise their animals ethically? Do you have concerns you’d like to learn more about?
When you’re face to face with the hardworking people who grew your food, you can chat and learn more. And, my favourite part, you can say thank you! We’d be lost without farmers.
3. Think Past the Salad
When we think of eating more healthy greens we often think of loading up on tons and tons of salad. And hey, there is nothing wrong with a good salad… but that stuff can get a little boring if it happens too often.
But you know what? Delicious, healthy greens actually pair well with so many things!
Spaghetti? That stuff would totally be better with some greens!
Pizza? Yea, greens would actually be pretty awesome on that!
Rice? Totally ready for a healthy green love affair.
Eggs? Yea, those babies adore greens.
Seriously, you can toss a handful of greens in so many recipes. Soups, stir fries, pastas. Raw or cooked, they’re delicious and really, really, really nutritious.
But you might be thinking “Sara… I barely have time to cook supper as it is. And now you want me to cut up a bunch of greens too? How am I supposed to make time for that?!”
And hey… I get it! When I’m seriously busy I often wish I had a kitchen fairy that would cook for me. I definitely don’t want to add more to my already full schedule… Which is why I have a little weekly ritual that makes adding greens to all of my meals super easy. Food prep!
4. Make Time to Food Prep
When we talked about how to make your healthy diet work, I mentioned that I’m not much of a food prepper because I prefer to eat intuitively. But one thing I do prep religiously is my leafy greens!
Once a week (preferably the same day or day after you picked up your groceries – freshness is marvelous) put aside 30 minutes or so to chop up your leafy greens! I go for the size I would want if I chose to make a salad.
Pop them in a bowl(s) and place them in the fridge. And remember, variety is the spice of life. Let’s get some diversity in those bowls with healthy greens like spinach, kale, chard, arugula, dandelion greens, collards and more.
Don’t be afraid to put together a bowl or two of singular greens if you want options that aren’t mixed. For example, I like to make an extra bowl of spinach and an extra bowl of kale… since these babies are favourites and makes a lot of solo appearances.
Why is this such an awesome idea? You have greens ready and waiting for you. Grab them by the handful for homemade juice or smoothies. Use them as a base for salads. Toss them into soups, stir fries, scrambles and more.
It’s so easy to make healthy greens a regular on your plate when they’re already ready to rock and roll.
By the way, this is also an awesome thing to do with other veggies. For example, grate or chop some veggies like carrots and parsnips. Fill a bowl with chopped broccoli, cauliflower and/or romanesco.
You can even take it a step further and cook some rice and quinoa. They last for around 5 days in the fridge (allowing you to be both prepared and eat intuitively if you prefer. Holla!)
Having things sliced, diced and sometimes even cooked and ready doesn’t always take away the ability to eat intuitively. It can actually make it even easier. And healthier!
5. Fall in Love with Homemade Juice and Smoothies
One simple, awesome way to load up on tons of greens is to make juices and smoothies a daily habit!
You can easily add a handful or two of greens to smoothies and end up with something incredibly delicious, filling and super nutritious.
And since smoothies are basically a build your own adventure, you can easily do this every day and enjoy tons and tons of variety. Need help getting started? Here are a couple of delicious, healthy green smoothies that I adore! And I have tons of inspo for you on Pinterest.
But don’t be afraid to get creative! A handful of spinach or kale, for example, goes brilliantly with so many combinations. Mix and match and you’ll end up with magic my friend.
As for juices – they’re a bit of a different ball game.
A juicer removes all of the dry ingredients from the equation, allowing you to load up on tons and tons of healthy, delicious goodness. They’re seriously filled to the brim with awesome nutrients and phytochemicals like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
This means that juice is a super simple way to get a huge, healthy dose of nourishment in one go that would be really hard to match. Honestly, I could never eat 2 cucumbers, 5 sprigs of kale, a cup of spinach and an apple in one sitting… but I can definitely drink it all in a juice.
But there is a potential downside. You know those dry ingredients we’ve removed from the equation? That stuff was full of insoluble fiber, which is kind of a big deal.
Loading up on all the micronutrients that fresh, homemade juice provides is super awesome. But without that fiber you may experience a spike in your blood sugar… and potentially a crash in the near future.
How do we work around this?
Enjoy your juice with a healthy, balanced meal! Or consume a balanced meal soon after. You pair that sucker with a plate full of healthy fiber, fats and proteins and you can have your high dose of micronutrients sans fear of a sugar rush.
If juice is part of your morning routine, consider treating yourself to some delicious (and fiberful) overnight oats too. Win-win!
Incorporate these options into your routine and you’ll be on your way towards becoming a lean, mean, healthy eating machine!
Are you excited to give these options a try? Anything you’d add to the list to make loading up on healthy greens even easier? Let me know what you think in the comments.
Health and love,