“If at first you don’t like greens, juice them and try again” Leah Salmon
We’re living in an amazing time for healthy eating, where Kale is the new cool and there are green smoothies available in nearly every corner shop, supermarket and petrol station.
We all know greens are good for us and they are more available than ever before, but if you or your children, still struggle to eat them on a daily basis, you’re not alone and below I’ll be sharing 9 ways to get in more.
Many of us are still haunted by the memories of waterlogged broccoli and soggy Brussels sprouts and the threats to “eat your greens or you’re not leaving the dinner table”, which we have a tendency to go on to use with our children, therefore continuing the cycle, whilst never changing our true feelings about green savoury foods.
Sweet green foods on the other hand, like green smoothies, are far more palatable, so once you get past the colour, many people are more than happy to drink green smoothies every day. But the 2 challenges with that are typically the prices of buying green smoothies daily (unless you make your own) can be higher than most drinks and most store bought green smoothies tend to have a lot of blended fruit, with just enough veggies to give it a green colour. This hit of blended and often pasteurized (boiled briefly to prolong shelf life) fruit sugar can have an effect on your blood sugar levels and sweet tooth (again, making a green smoothies at home where you can monitor the sweetness helps).
According to Carol Simontacchi’s book “Crazy Makers — How the food industry in destroying our brains and harming our children” on page 18 she wrote:
“Consumption of vegetables has increased over the past 2 decade, with total per capita consumption of more than 442 pounds. Per capita consumption of fruits is 271 pounds. That increase may seem like good news. But most of the increase in eating vegetables and fruit has come from having more meals outside the home. No factor has had more influence over these statistics than frozen French fries. Processed potatoes, mostly chips and French fries, accounted for 27% of the growth of total vegetable consumption over the past few decades. 15% of tomatoes are processed into Ketchup, and the huge increases in the consumption of French fries, has in turn, increased ketchup demand. Other vegetables? Do not forget the pickle cucumbers, onions, garlic, mushrooms and peppers that top our hamburgers and pizzas.”
So even here, the only green food is pickled cucumbers.
Like many of us, I don’t remember many greens in my childhood apart from cucumbers (which I absolutely loved), green apples, green peas, kiwi (which now makes my tongue itch if I touch the skin) and lettuce in the prawn cocktails my mum made on special occasions.
Again, like many teenagers, I don’t remember greens being a huge part of my life then either, even though I turned vegetarian when I was 11yrs old. But I was what I refer to as a junk food vegetarian, which meant as long as it didn’t have meat, poultry or fish, I’d eat it, so my diet comprised of bread, rice, pasta, soya everything, sugar, chocolate a few fruits and a few vegetables thrown in more as a garnish.
It took until my early 20’s when I started studying nutrition for me to realised how little fresh food I was actually eating, which made me consciously add more (I even did my first 3 day juice cleanse with a blender and a strainer as I hadn’t bought a juice yet). And now as a mum of 6 and wife to one, I make it my business to get as many raw fresh greens, vegetables, leaves, herbs, fruits and seaweeds into my family as I can daily.
Many of us will carry the dietary habits from our childhood through to adulthood and whilst some of us have positive memories to build on, many of us have 3 mains challenges when it comes to eating green foods
Taste — Over cooking greens until they are soggy can leave them tasting bland and watery, but lightly steaming or having them raw retains their natural flavours, which can be enhanced subtly with olive oil, a pinch of sea salt of a simple home made vingrette. Many of us eat with our eyes and nostrils first, so if you make and unattractive bed of green leaves it can be difficult to believe it will taste any better than it looks if you’ve never tried it before, so making a little effort with presentation can do wonders.
Texture — Again over cooking our greens, can make them not only taste, but feel very unappetising, so lightly steaming them can creating a better texture. You can try finely chopping or grating greens into other foods or even enjoying them blended into juices of smoothies to create a more appealing texture
& Time — The idea that healthy foods take longer to prepare is only sometimes true, but anything you are doing for the first time or in an inefficient way will take longer. Practice making a smoothies every day before work and you’ll be come quicker and more efficient with the whole process each time. Batch cooking, washing, chopping and bagging or jarring greens in advance and having them in easy to use portions in your fridge will speed up food prep time. And of course, if you’re extremely pressed for time, you could invest in buying a salad or green smoothies a few times a week or getting help from a family member to help prepare your greens for you.
If you can overcome these challenges, green foods have such an abundance of nutrients to offer us, especially when they are properly prepared and not overly cooked or otherwise processed. Some of the nutrients found in greens include:
Iron — (for energy & growth etc)
Calcium & Magnesium — (for bone, heart and brain health etc)
Silica — (for skin, nails and hair health etc)
Vitamin A — (for eye & heart health & immunity etc)
Vitamin C — (for immunity and stress etc)
Vitamin K — (for healthy blood clotting etc)
Fibre — (for bowel health, blood sugar balance and to feel fuller)
Water — (to aid hydration and digestive health)
Live Enzymes (only found in raw greens — boost energy, digestion, growth and more)
Green foods are awesome!!!! But, if you’re now struggling to think of more than 3 green foods you can add to your life, here are just some you can add to your next shopping trip:
Kale (curly or black)
Sugar snap peas
Green powders like spirulina, chlorella and moringa
Now if you’re wondering how you can add all these wonderful green to your plate, here are just 9 of the many ways to add greens to you and your families diet:
1. Salads with each meal –Add a green salad to each meal or at least 1 meal a day. It can make up a quarter or even half of your plate
2. Smoothies — Citrus fruits, ripe bananas and pineapples can over power the taste of most green when blended into a smoothie, so you can grab a handful of most greens and blend them with a few of your favorite fruits to make a filling green smoothie. Again, keep the focus on the greens, while adding enough fruit to add sweetness and texture. Green powders blend very well into smoothies too including spirulina, chlorella and moringa powders.
3. Juices — Just like smoothies, juicing greens can create a completely different experience of a food, that in whole form, you weren’t a fan of. Again when making juices, aim to focus on the green vegetables, while adding a little fruit to taste.
4. In soups and stews — My children really doing like sweet potatoes or squashes, but they rarely notice they are eating them once I’ve blended them into a soup or stew. You can try the same with greens
5. Steamed on the side — Lightly steaming greens for just a few minutes so they retain their crunch to accompany a main meal is a good strategy too.
6. Grated into grains — Very finely chopping or grating greens like spinach, kale, cucumber, parsley, coriander etc and stirring them into pasta or rice dishes, can disguise them in a meal of taste of texture is a issue. (i.e. finely chopped spinach in a tuna pasta salad or finely chopped kale in egg fried rice etc)
7. Infused in water — this is a less obviously way to get the nutrient from greens, but adding a few mint leaves, cucumber slices or lime slices to a large jar of water and letting it sit overnight makes the most refreshing delicately tasting infused water, which will contain many nutrient from the mint, lime and cucumber, which you can snack on 10 minutes after drinking the water.
8. Sticks to snack on — replace a few snacks a week with celery and cucumber sticks, sugar snap peas and few baby plum tomatoes and carrot sticks for variety, for a fresh crunchy nutritious raw alternative to crisps and cracker.
9. Blended into burgers — Just like with soups and smoothies in my house, if there’s something I want to add to my husband and children’s diet that may not go down as well in it’s obvious form, I’ll grate or food process it into a veggie burger mix, with their favorite spices and then serve it to them on a gluten free bun or a big romaine lettuce leaf, but free range egg mayo, tomatoes slices and shredded lettuce. This is normally how I get them to eat Brussels sprouts, they can rarely notice them.
So I hope this article has been useful in helping you and your family to get more greens into your life.
Please share with anyone you think may benefit from reading it and if you have advice on how to add more greens to your life or have any questions, please post them below
Much love, take care and stay healthy
The Naturally You Coach
About the Author: Leah Salmon, The Naturally You Coach, is a bestselling author, speaker, nutritionist, live blood analyst and life coach, focused on womb & pregnancy health and premature birth prevention & on a mission to help 100,000 black women to eat for health, think for happiness and live in harmony by 2020 or what she calls Becoming Naturally You. She does this through her clinic, books, programs, coaching, events, workshops, videos, articles and a free weekly ezine.