Everyone knows green foods are great for them, but sometimes it’s hard to pack enough into your day. Whether because you’re on the road, on a tight budget, pressed for time, or you’re pressed to eat quick meals on the go, getting in your greens is no easy feat at all times. To help you out, let’s make things easy. Pack five amazing nutritious green foods into one meal and feel good the rest of the day, knowing you’ve gotten in your greens for the day.
First, Why Greens?
Green foods are glorified in the human diet, and with good reason. They’re full of antioxidants, chlorophyll to alkalize your body, and contain vital, easy-to-digest nutrients like iron, protein, magnesium, calcium, and immune-boosting properties. They’re also cleansing to the body and bring satisfaction and balance. Greens nourish us and create a healthy environment for our bodies that can result in us having more energy, a clearer mind, less inflammation, and better digestion. So, now that you know why to eat your greens, let’s build a complete meal out of five, healthy green foods to ensure you feel your best!
Good Green Food Options and Meal Ideas:
You can do several things with lean, green foods. Four quick and easy ideas that don’t require too much work or time include: a smoothie, a salad, a soup, and a wrap. All of these aren’t only convenient but also simple to prepare and based from clean, lean foods.
Here are five of the best green foods to include in your clean, lean, green meal:
Kale is no doubt the king of greens to include in your diet. It’s packed with magnesium, calcium, iron, Vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, chlorophyll, and fiber. If you’re enjoying a green smoothie (with the rest of us), kale is one of the best greens to use for both flavor and nutrition. If you’re making a salad, it’s also perfect shredded and raw, gently massaged with some lemon juice, sea salt, and black pepper. Another option is to use it in soups, which will give them a satisfying, nourishing bite and provide you with a hearty fill. Or, go for a nice solid wrap and enjoy kale’s crisp, green bite in place of romaine lettuce or spinach.
2. Celery[caption id="attachment_148112" align="aligncenter" width="800"] The Delicious Life/Flickr[/caption]
Poor celery – it often gets forgotten and neglected as a simple dieter’s food. But celery is made for so much more than raw crudites and rabbit food! Celery is one of the richest sources of Vitamin K, potassium and natural sodium (a.k.a natural electrolytes), Vitamin C, and water. Celery lowers blood pressure, prevents dehydration, balances your body’s mineral composition, and helps flush wastes from the body. It also adds a nice juicy crunch to any food you add it to and is pretty affordable to beat all. Use a stalk in a smoothie with your kale, chop or dice some into your salad if going that route, or include a bit in your soup or wrap if you’re more into those options. No matter how you choose to eat celery, it will provide your body with lots of nutrients in a few simple bites.
3. Arugula[caption id="attachment_148112" align="aligncenter" width="800"] ghirson/Flickr[/caption]
Another green to include in your diet is arugula. This peppery green is rich in magnesium, Vitamin C, and beneficial fiber for digestion. While not rich in protein or folate like spinach or kale, it still has much to offer the human diet. Arugula also adds a bit of excitement to whatever it’s added to. Give it a try if you haven’t already. In a smoothie, it pairs well with bananas or berries since their sweetness helps balance out the bite of arugula, and in a salad, it’s amazing with some carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, chickpeas, and edamame (all naturally sweet in flavor). Arugula also makes a lean, green and mean soup, perhaps with white beans and mushrooms, and goes fantastic in wraps with some matchstick carrots, cukes, avocado slices and hummus.
Speaking of avocado (nature’s butter), it’s time to get more of this magical food into your diet however possible. Rich in magnesium, Vitamin E, folate, potassium, and monounsaturated fats, avocados provide both nourishment, an alkaline environment to prevent acidity, they keep you full, and their nourishing nutrients will even provide you with beauty benefits. Avocados are also helpful for reducing blood pressure, stabilizing high blood sugar, and make a perfect replacement to animal-based foods that provide the heartiness in a meal. In a smoothie, they add a tasteless flavor, yet a creamy, thick texture that’s perfect for replacing dairy yogurt in a smoothie for that creamy texture you’re looking for. In a salad, it’s the perfect dressing replacement and goes amazing with some raw, massaged kale. In the mood for soup? Avocado is a great soup topper, and is the perfect replacement for dairy cream or milk. And of course, no plant-based wrap is complete without this hearty food. Add it to a collard greens wrap filled with other veggie goodness, and stay full for hours while also being completely nourished.
Zucchini is an amazing food for reducing inflammation since it’s high in potassium. It’s also low on the glycemic index, rich in Vitamin C, and helpful for filling you up due to high amounts of fiber. Zucchini is also great for aiding digestion and preventing irregularity. It’s also a (surprisingly) fantastic ingredient to use in a smoothie because it’s tasteless and creates a rich, creamy texture that makes a great replacement for bananas if you’re not using fruit in your smoothie. It pairs well with almond milk, vanilla plant-based protein powder, chia seeds, berries, and a little vanilla extract with some raw cacao. Or, chop it up in a salad or soup, or use it to make raw food wraps instead.
Recipe Suggestions Using These Food Combos:
In a blender (a.k.a the best piece of kitchen equipment ever): add 1 cup of kale, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1 stalk of celery, 1 cup arugula, 1/4 avocado, 1 chopped zucchini, a little vanilla extract, banana or berries (or stevia for a lower glycemic option), 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, and a pinch of raw cacao. You can also add a little vegan vanilla protein powder or hemp protein. Then, add 1/2 cup of ice, blend, and there you go – you’ve just gotten in five incredibly nutritious green foods into one meal that will easily keep you full through breakfast while tasting like a chocolate shake!
In a large bowl: add 2 cups kale, 2 stalks of chopped or diced celery, 1-2 cups arugula, 1/4-1/2 chopped avocado, 1/2-1 chopped (or grilled) zucchini. Toss with the juice of one lemon, and massage a little with your hands to break down the fibrous greens and mix in the avocado (a bit messy, but worth it)! For more fill, add some chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, hummus, or whatever else you want. Since the avocado is creamy, you don’t need any dressing (unless you just want to use it). Spices like black pepper, oregano, basil, and even a little mustard will also add a little jazz and pizzazz to your salad as well, or make Avocado Kale Chilli Salad for even more nice and spice! Make it ahead for an easy, green lunch on the go or for dinner in a flash!
In a large stockpot, add the following: 2 cups vegetable broth (lower sodium and organic options work great), 2 cups of chopped kale, 3-4 stalks of chopped celery, 2 cups arugula, 1-2 chopped zucchini, a can of no salt added, fire roasted tomatoes, 1 chopped onion, a little garlic, black pepper, oregano, and one cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer on low-medium heat and let cook for one-two hours. Or, put it in a slow cooker and cook on low for 2-3 hours. Makes 3-4 servings. Once finished and smelling delicious, serve yourself 1-2 cups and top with some chopped avocado.
Using a whole grain, sprouted grain, or collards green wrap (offering even more of a green boost), add 1 cup chopped kale, 1 diced stalk of celery, 1 cup raw arugula, 1/2 chopped avocado, a shredded zucchini, some black pepper, hummus, mustard, salsa, or whatever else you fancy. Cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and sliced almonds make excellent, nutrient-dense additions.
As you can see, greens are so easy to add into your diet. If you’re short on time, resources, and creativity, tossing five servings into one meal is an easy way to ensure a nutritious day. Other green foods to use are:
- green peppers
- green onions/scallions
- bok choy
What’s your favorite lean, mean and green meal full of glorious green foods?
Lead Image Source: Kent Wang/Flickr