Leafy greens are a surefire way to support optimal health and fitness. They’re full of flavanoids that help protect the body from oxidative stress, they are an excellent source of B vitamins and important minerals like magnesium, iron and calcium, and they happen to help alkalize the body which reduces inflammation and fights off disease.

Greens are important for all of us, including those on a raw food diet. But if you’re eating a raw diet and just aren’t keen on the flavors or textures of leafy greens, you probably find it a lot easier to avoid them rather than force yourself to swallow down a salad just to get them into your diet. The good news is that you don’t have to enjoy eating salads in order to take advantage of the health benefits that leafy greens have to offer. You can add greens to a variety of different raw (or cooked) meals that in many cases will completely cover the texture and flavor of your greens. Even a little cooked variety of greens every now and then can be enjoyed if that means you’re able to eat more of them.

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Here are a few fun ways to sneak greens into your diet, and to learn to love the flavor notes that each of them brings to the table: 

Add Them to Soups

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Greens add depth, texture, and beautiful color to soups. Whether you’re working with sweet, spicy, or bitter greens, they all tend to mellow out a little and meld with all the other flavors in a good raw or cooked soup. This makes them easier to enjoy for those who don’t particularly like the taste of leafy greens. Delicate greens, like spinach and watercress, can also be used to add a sweet depth to your soups and plenty of nutrition.

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Hardy greens, like kale and collards, offer a heartier flavor and texture to soups. All greens are awesome when they’re blended into creamy soups too. Try blending kale with fresh and sun-dried tomatoes, herbs and spices of your choice, a bit of grapeseed oil for body, and some avocado for creaminess. Or blend some steamed potatoes, coconut milk, curry powder, a splash of soy sauce, and a handful of greens for a fun and easy Thai meal.

Mix Them into Smoothies

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Sweetness from the fruit in your smoothies offers an excellent flavor cover for greens of all types. In fact, aside from the color you probably won’t notice the handful of dandelion greens in your tropical banana smoothie as long as you add enough fruit. Green smoothies will give you a boost of minerals that your body can use to power you through the day, and they’re a lot more convenient than standing over the stove to make breakfast.

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A good way to get started is to add about a cup of mild greens to your smoothie for every two servings of fruit you add. Top things off with water and you’re good to go. Consider adding ice for a slushy effect, or including nut milk for a creamy concoction.

Use Green Powders in Sauces

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Who says sauces and gravies can’t be green? Green powders, at least those that are made up solely of primarily of leafy vegetables, are jam packed with minerals that add extra richness and depth to sauces and gravies. The flavor of the greens is not overwhelming when used in this way, although you’ll probably appreciate what they add to your dish enough to start enjoying the flavor of different types of greens on their own.

You don’t need much to achieve a great flavor and fun color – start by adding just a teaspoon of Vitamineral Greens or other reputable green powder to your favorite sauces and gravies and increase the amount as you see fit.

Pulse Them into Dips

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Make your own spinach and artichoke dip, chard and lemon-herb dip, or tofu kale dip at home so you can control exactly what goes into it and adjust the amount of greens that are added to meet your own personal preferences. You can pack the greens in without overwhelming your taste buds as long as the other flavors are prominent. Use bold ingredients like lemon juice, almonds, fresh herbs, garlic, and jalapeno so you can really pack the greens in without sacrificing taste and enjoyment.

You can also use store-bought ingredients, like vegan cream cheese and veggie broth, to make dip creation easier. Consider combining spinach, vegan cream cheese, lemon juice, a piece of jalapeno, and a little sweetener together for a tart and spicy dip. Whip up a cheesy dip made with chard, red bell peppers, nutritional yeast, and your favorite herbs. Or go south of the border with collard greens, corn, veggie broth, avocado, and a little cumin. The options are endless!

Wrap Them Up

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Adding fresh greens to wraps and sandwiches help to bulk them up, and all the other flavors of the meal help to cover up the flavors of the greens that you may not be so crazy about. Include hummus, Dijon mustard, teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce, or bean dip in your wraps and then layer on the freshest greens you can get your hands on. Tuck them in nice and tight so you’re less likely to pull pieces out as your eat.

You can even marinade your greens in whatever type of condiment you happen to be using for your wrap for a few hours beforehand, and then use the greens as your spread then add lots of bulk in the form of tomatoes, beans, cucumber, sprouts, and olives.

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Raw or cooked, greens are important, so don’t leave them out, just find new ways to use them. You needn’t force the greens into your recipes to the point where they aren’t enjoyable, or you won’t be likely to focus on greens when you’re in the kitchen. Start with just a small handful, or half a cup of greens and keep increasing the amount as you get used to the new flavors.

Lead Image Source: Kale Avocado Wraps With Miso-Dipped Tempeh