Dark Leafy Greens: Nature’s Perfect Food

What if you could take a pill that would fight cancer and other diseases, give you energy and keep you full during meals so that you didn’t overeat unhealthy food? You’d probably take it in a heartbeat.

Well, good news, there is such a thing, only it’s not a pill. It’s a food that many of us simply do not eat enough of. What food is that? Dark leafy greens of course.

While you may be thinking, “but I eat a lot of spinach”, and that may be great, there are many, many different varieties of greens out there, and the larger variety you eat, the more benefits health benefits you’ll get from them. Kale, Chard, and Collards are some varieties, but you can also eat the greens from veggies such as beets and other root vegetables, and even dandelion greens (yes, I’m talking about those “weeds” you have in your yard), have lots of nutritional value.

Dark leafy greens are one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat calorie wise. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and are full of fiber and even protein. Yes, protein. Ounce for ounce, spinach and other greens have more protein than red meat. Of course, it’s pretty easy to eat an 8 ounce steak, 8 oz of greens is a lot. Calorie wise, you won’t find anything better. A cup of kale has about 10 calories, and most greens fall under 20, so you can pretty much eat as many as you want without guilt at all.

Unlike spinach and many lettuce varieties, not all greens are tender enough to be eaten raw and benefit from braising to soften them up, but for the most part you can use them anywhere you can use spinach. They are great in soups, on pizza, in pasta dishes and simply cooked with a little olive oil and garlic.

For some more unusual uses try:

Blending greens into a smoothie with fruit. For tough ones such as curly leaf kale, you’ll need a work horse of a blender such as a Vita Mix, but tender greens such as spinach and watercress will blend easily into a smoothie with berries, bananas and any other fruit you may have. Depending on the type of fruit you choose, you’re smoothie may be an unappealing color but I promise, if you just close your eyes and drink, you’ll never know they’re in there. This is a great way to get servings of many greens. I buy several bunches, chop them all up and mix and then throw handfuls in when I make smoothies. As an added bonus, many nutritionists say you absorb the nutrients much better when they are blended, so get yourself a blender and make some smoothies!

Take some kale and tear it into bite size pieces. Lay on sheet pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil and salt. Put in a 400 degree oven and bake until crisp, about 10 minutes. Crispy and delicious, this is a super alternative to potato chips.

These are just a couple things you can do to get more greens in your diet, and you shouldn’t delay. With their nutritious value, calorie content, and disease fighting power, you won’t find a better bang for your calorie buck than dark leafy greens.

Photo byalexbrn

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