Load up on Greens

Dr. Tanya Hudson
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Tired of the same old vegetables?

Need to jazz up those weekly meals with more than just broccoli, lettuce, carrots, and cucumber? 

Vegetables are so important for optimizing our physical and mental health.  People who eat a primarily plant-based diet have lower rates of cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other major diseases. 

Patients frequently ask me which “diet” I recommend, but honestly, this really depends on the individual, their medical history, and genetics.  But I almost always recommend a primarily Mediterranean diet, with lots of good fats (including nuts and seeds, olive oil, fish, and avocados), vegetables, fruits, lean meats, eggs, and dairy (in moderation and assuming no allergy).  I suggest consuming a plant-based diet at least 3-4 days a week, focusing on legumes, organic soy, lentils, nutritional yeast, and whole grains, such as quinoa for adequate protein. 

Looking for some good vegan cookbooks?

I love Dreena Burton’s book, Plant-Powered Families, and Del Sroufe’s book, Forks over Knives.

This “healthy tips” blog will focus on dark, leafy greens, considered “superfoods.”  There are so many more “greens” than spinach and romaine! 

Here are some reasons why kale, collard greens, swiss chard, and spinach are vital to our health:

  • Loaded with nutrients including vitamins A, K, C, B6, manganese, calcium, copper, potassium, and magnesium. 
  • Help reduce blood pressure and slow the rate of cognitive decline.
  • Help to decrease stress and strengthen bones. 
  • Help to balance blood sugars and support the immune system.
  • Loaded with antioxidants like quercetin, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.  Antioxidants are substances that help counteract damage by free radicals in the body. 
  • Loaded with nutrients like lutein which protects the eyes. 
  • Help you feel full due to its high fiber content and therefore can reduce cravings and subsequent weight gain. 
  • High fiber content can help control cholesterol levels and keep you regular.  😊
  • Have anti-cancer properties due to phytonutrients called Di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane.
  • Rich in folate (needed to make DNA and other genetic material) and vitamin C.

Need I say more?

So how can you integrate more greens into your day-to-day?  I love adding greens to protein smoothies.  They are easy to hide (for kids) if you add berries and a banana for sweetness (or even a date or two). 

Here are a few of my favorite “leafy green” recipes to get you started!

Kale

  • Kale chips—click >>HERE<< for the recipe.  
  • Tumbleweed Farm’s Favorite Kale Salad—click >>HERE<< (This is so tasty that my son requested this salad for his 11th birthday!).
  • Sausage, Kale, and Cauliflower Stew—click >>HERE<<.  This is from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, Dishing Up the Dirt by Andrea Bemis (check out her website >>HERE<< for even more recipes).

Swiss Chard

Honestly, my favorite way to eat Swiss chard is by sautéing it with garlic and onions in olive oil and then adding tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) or coconut aminos.  See >>HERE<< for my 5-minute video on how to do this.  SO easy!

Garlicky Swiss Chard and Chickpea Stir-Fry—click >>HERE<< for the recipe.  So good!

Collard Greens

  • White Bean and Collard Green Soup—click >>HERE<< for the recipe.  Nice on a colder day.
  • Miso Chicken with Cauliflower Mash—click >>HERE<< for the recipe. 

Spinach

When it comes to cooking with spinach, I just add it to any dish I can.  This might be smoothies, eggs, pasta, burritos, soups, chicken dishes, and even worked into hamburger patties.  Such an easy dark leafy to sneak in!

I hope these recipes and cooking ideas will help you integrate more “greens” into your day to day.

NOTE: The above greens should be kept to a minimum if you have hypothyroidism (or a low-functioning thyroid gland) as these greens can decrease the thyroid’s ability to absorb iodine, a key nutrient the thyroid gland needs to make T3 and T4.  You would have to consume multiple servings of greens a day to negatively impact the thyroid gland, but still good to be aware of.  Dark leafies also contain a high amount of oxalates, which can be problematic for people who are prone to kidney stones.  Please reach out to your doctor if you have specific questions about your health and consuming dark leafy greens.