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  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Dandelion
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Beet
  • Bok Choy

(Just to name a few.)

Very few of us have enough greens in our diets.   Many of us have none in our diets.

Greens are one of the most nutrient dense foods, if not the most.  Raw food guru Victoria Boutenko calls them “sunshine” for our bodies.

I started eating greens (specifically the milder ones such as spinach) about 8 years ago.  As I type that I realize that since I am 36, I didn’t eat greens (except for iceburg or romaine – hardly greens?!) for the first 28 years of my life (unless by accident in a restaurant).

I can’t turn back the clock.  The only thing I can do is make a decision now that will benefit us in the present and the future.

So, I have chosen to incorporate a lot of greens in our diets now – sometimes not enough – and I’m always looking for ways to increase how much we eat.  Why? Because we feel better and stronger.  And, the more greens I eat, the less I crave sweet and salty treats.

If you’ve thought about adding more greens to your diet, you might find our strategy helpful.  Anything listed below would be prepared for the entire family, including my kids (6 and 2).  (While every day is not perfect, 90% of the time they are eating all their greens right along with mom and dad.)

1.  Menu Planning

When I am planning our weekly menu, I try to incorporate greens into dinners on most days, even if it’s a simple green salad.

2.  Variety

a.  Type of Greens:  I usually have two to three different greens in the house at one time.  I try my best to alternate between the greens.  I do this for variety in the enjoyment of eating the greens, and also in the nutrients we are getting.  (Note:  we do eat greens with oxalates – i.e. spinach, chard, collards – and so I want to make sure we do not have a high concentration of oxalates by alternating the aforementioned greens with ones that have no oxalates – i.e. kale, bok choy, dandelion.)

b.  Raw vs. Cooked:  We eat greens raw (in salads, smoothies, juices) and cooked.  I have read that eating foods both ways may provide you with different nutrients.

3.  Juices/Smoothies

Despite the heated online debates last week about the healthful (or harmful) properties of juices and smoothies, we will continue to do both.  Our green juice in the morning is primarily greens with a small amount of fruit and it makes us feel great.  As far as smoothies, we have always been cautious about how much fruit or sweetener we add (and my kids, who are on the thinner side, benefit from the extra calories anyhow).  We juice every day (approximately 8 oz a day per adult; 1-2 oz per child) and enjoy a smoothie about three to four times a week.  One thing that is important to note is that our smoothies and juices are never meal replacements, but stand alone as an extra nutrition boost.

A note on juicers:  I have sung praises about my Breville juicer in the past.  I used that juicer for about two years and it served me well.  However, one thing it did not do well is juice greens (it would leave huge pieces in the pulp container).  As my goals are now to increase our greens consumption, I needed a machine that would juice greens really well.  The Omega 8004 (pictured below) does a dreamy job of juicing greens (and other fruits/veggies).  The juice does not separate, can be stored for a longer time (due to reduced oxidation in this masticating machine), tastes better, and the pulp is much drier.  A win-win-win!

4.  It’s Fun to Add Greens to

  • Soups (most broth soups can benefit from a handful of greens thrown in at the end of cooking)
  • Chili (just like soups, greens are great with chili)
  • Stir Fries (we love to add greens to fried rice/quinoa)
  • Curries (greens are delicious in any curry dish)
  • Tofu Scramble (the more veggies the better!)
  • Wraps (hummus, falafel…and greens!) – or use greens as the wrap instead of a tortilla
  • Quiche

5.  Greens on their own

  • Greens can stand alone! Saute with some garlic/tamari, or try a creamy cashew sauce.  Use greens as a side dish during lunch/dinner, or as the centerpiece.
  • Have you heard about massaged kale salads? They are so SO delicious! Use a simple citrus/olive oil dressing, or choose your favorite dressing and work those leaves (just massage greens cut into ribbons until reduced in size and limp – sounds a little risque, but it is what it is – and toss any additional ingredients).
  • Kale Chips – these are, by far, one of our most favorite ways of eating kale.  This recipe really rocks.  We are addicted to these chips.

6.  Where do I get my greens?

  • In our garden.  My favorite way – and most convenient! Kale is incredibly easy to grow and hardy.  It’s February and I still have some to harvest outside.
  • Our local Farmer’s Market or organic box delivery service.
  • Local markets.  We always have a one pound carton of spinach in our fridge, ready to go (see pic below) in our salad spinner (tip – keep a cloth napkin inside spinner to absorb moisture).

7. Favorite Inspirations

And, finally, here are a few of my favorite resources for inspiration on eating greens.

I would love to hear what your favorite greens are – and how do you prepare them? (If you are having trouble posting a comment, please email me at jennifer at kidoing dot com.)