Bunch of greens
Get healthy with leafy greens

Go (leafy) green with this food challenge

Popeye had it right: When it comes to your health, green, leafy vegetables are the way to go. Here are a few reasons you should channel the spinach-loving sailor and go green.

Greens are nature’s scrub brushes, cleaning out toxins, loosening up mucus and cleansing our blood and respiratory systems. They are arguably one of the most important foods we can eat for good health. Unfortunately, they're also the most common food missing from the American diet.

“Dark, leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses,” says Joshua Rosenthal, MScED and founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. “They deliver high amounts of immune-boosting vitamins, skin-glowing minerals and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, not to mention fiber and even protein.”

Some of the proven and apparent benefits of consuming dark leafy greens include:

  • Blood purification
  • Reduced lung and chest congestion
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Healthy intestinal flora
  • Improved hydration
  • Weight-loss promotion
  • Reduced cravings

 “What a lot of people don’t know is the vitamins in leafy green vegetables are fat-soluble. To avoid missing out on all the valuable vitamins and nutrients they should be eaten with a healthy fat source,” says Elizabeth Finch, holistic health coach. “Try olive oil, coconut oil or avocado.”

"Greens come in just about every flavor from sweet to bitter and peppery to earthy."

Think you don’t or won’t like greens? Consider the huge variety nature offers: Spinach, collards, kale and arugula are just a few delicious examples. Greens come in just about every flavor, from sweet to bitter and peppery to earthy, which means there is a powerful leafy green out there for every set of taste buds.

If your goal is better health — and let’s be real, who wouldn’t like to feel better? — our greens challenge is the first step to a lighter, healthier, more energized version of you. And it’s not as hard you might expect.

We asked moms to share their greatest challenges and successes when incorporating greens into their family diets. Here are their tips to help you rise to the “eat more greens” challenge.

"I’m a picky eater. I know the importance of greens, but it’s hard to find options that are palatable for me and my girls. Lately, we’ve been using handfuls of spinach in a daily smoothie. Lots of fruit helps to mask the earthy flavor and increases our vitamins and minerals. It’s a win-win." —M. Salmon, Nashville, Tennessee

"We put everything on a giant bed of greens: chicken breasts, beans, eggs and grilled veggies. Toss them on a mound of arugula, spinach or kale, and you’re on your way to better health." —L. Lehrhaupt, Fairfield, Connecticut

"When our kids are resistant to a new food, we let them help prepare it. Kids are more likely to eat what they have touched and helped make." —L. Walls, Oklahoma

Recipe for success: Garlicky kale

Kale salad

You can’t decide how you feel about kale until you’ve tried this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of kale, washed and cut into thin strips
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  •  2 tablespoons of sesame oil or tahini
  •  2 tablespoons of Bragg’s liquid amino acids
  •  2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  •  2 tablespoons of water
  •  4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Toss all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix by hand.
  2. Chill for 20 minutes before serving.

More "green" recipes

Beet salad with toasted nuts and spring greens
Latin-style beans and greens
Spinach salad with couscous cakes

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