Leafy greens are absolutely vital to our health.  They include such things as Spinach, Kale, Arugula, Collard greens, Parsley, Cilantro, Basil, Mesclun, Mustard greens, Beet greens, Bok choy, Swiss chard and Microgreens.

They are brimming with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are vital for good vibrant health.  The fibre in them supports the growth of good bacteria and beyond the physical aspect, greens are also known for their energetic effects on the body.  The leaf is where the sun’s energy is captured in the form of photosynthesis.  The green colour of the leaf comes from chlorophyll, the chemical that traps and packages the energy of the sun.  The darker the leafy green vegetable, the more chlorophyll it has and the more life force energy of the sun it is able to trap.  When we consume them, that vital life force energy is transferred to us.  Greens are the internal rainforests of our body, rejuvenating us and boosting our spirits.

So why is it that green leafy vegetables don’t form a very big part of the North American plate?  Part of the reason could be that many of us don’t know how to use greens beyond their use in salads.  Since not everyone is a salad fan, being able to find ways of using leafy greens beyond salad would help us increase our intake of these nutrient powerhouses.

Here are 10 simple ways you can incorporate leafy greens into your diet.

    1. Buy the large pre-washed box of green leafy vegetables.  They are available in Spinach, Mixed greens, Arugula or baby kale.  Commit to finishing the entire pack before your next grocery trip.  This will encourage you to find creative ways to use them.
    2. Add leafy greens such as spinach, arugula, mesculin and parsley to soups, stews and sauces.
    3. Make spinach pesto with spinach, basil, olive oil, garlic and brazil nuts (or almonds).  Pesto can be used as a dip or mixed into pasta.  It can also be used as a marinade for fish or chicken.
    4. Make a spicy herb chutney.  All you need is either parsley or cilantro (or both).  Mix it in with some garlic cloves, lemon juice, salt and few hot peppers in a food chopper or blender until blended.  You can then use it as a condiment to flavour your food.  It can also be added to curries, soups or stews to spice them up.
    5. Chop Kale and Parsley finely in a food chopper (or by hand).  Massage in olive oil, lemon and salt for a zesty raw side dish.
    6. Saute the greens such as swiss chard, spinach or bok choy with a little bit of oil and salt and eat as a side with your eggs in the morning or any main dish for dinner.
    7. Add leafy greens to rice while it’s cooking to make “green rice”.  Leafy greens when cooked relax and loose their stiffness making it a perfect addition to cooked rice.
    8. Make a smoothie.  Smoothies are an excellent way to finish off the greens.  Greens pair very well with fruits.  Examples of smoothie combinations are spinach & banana.  Spinach & avocado.  Kale & mangoe.  Parsley, cucumber, ginger and apple.  You can’t go wrong with smoothie combinations. All you need is a good blender, one of the above combinations, some ice, water and some dates (or honey) for extra sweetness.
    9. Collard greens can be used as a wrap.  Next time you are making yourself a chicken burrito, instead of the tortilla, use a collard green leaf, stuff it with your favourite stuffing, roll it up and enjoy!
    10. Last but not least, salads are an excellent way to enjoy any green leafy vegetable.  Creating a salad is like creating a piece of art.  You don’t need a recipe, you just need a template and some creativity.  Check out my  blog on “How to create salads” .http://kingcitypharmacy.ca/how-to-build-a-salad/

Hope this inspires you to get more of these power house Green Leafy Vegetables in your diet

Yours in Health & Wellness
Aziza Amarshi, RPh, RHN
Pharmacist, Holistic Nutritionist