As we decorate for the winter holidays, we begin to bring out the greens. We celebrate with wreaths, trees, garland, and all sorts of beautiful evergreens. They lift our spirits, provide natural beauty, and the pine smell is refreshing. In addition to hanging greens inside and outside of our homes, why not consider adorning our bodies with great tasting, nutritious, and versatile greens?
To begin, you might be thinking that greens were only meant to hang on the front door and not be eaten. You might even wish the Grinch would show up to stuff those greens right back up the chimney. However, as you begin to taste-test and discover the great flavors that greens add to your meals and snacks, you will also enjoy the health benefits they provide.
Dark leafy greens are known to be great sources of Vitamins A, C, E, and K and a variety of minerals. Many contain B vitamins, and all are rich in antioxidants that have been shown to assist in preventing certain types of cancer. In addition, by consuming more greens, we increase our fiber intake which provides improved digestion, overall better general health, and again prevention of chronic diseases and cancer.
At first thought, you may agree with Dr. Seuss’s, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and not want to touch them with a “39 and a half-foot pole”. But now that you know the benefits, how can you use these nutritious storehouses in ways that taste good, are easy to prepare, and even entice your children to sample them? Below are 10 Tips for incorporating greens this holiday season to help you find the “strength of ten Grinches plus two”.
1. Try them in salads. A handful of dark greens mixed in with some romaine or iceberg lettuce ups your vitamin and mineral intake in great proportions.
2. Sneak some cooked greens into your tomato sauce, puree it, and use it on pasta, in lasagna, or on meatballs.
3. Raw kale or spinach in your smoothie may change the color, but the flavor is fruity and delicious.
4. Soup gets a new depth of flavor when some dark leafy greens are added to the broth. Try vegetable soup, potato soup, or even chicken noodle.
5. Adding greens to your sandwiches instead of plain lettuce is a tasty option with a boost of nutrition.
6. Have you ever added greens to dessert? Francine Segan shared on NPR’s (National Public Radio) All Things Considered, a recipe for a Sweet Spinach Pie that was experienced in Tuscany. Hmmm, who knows it might be a big hit on the holiday table.
7. For the holidays, make a loaf of orange spinach quick bread. Wrap it up in a bow and you have a simple gift for friends or family.
8. Eggs “marry” well with greens. Add them to your scramble, egg salad, or quiche. Throw in a few red peppers and you have some great holiday brunch selections.
9. Add greens to a favorite veggie stir-fry. Serve over brown rice or quinoa and you’ve created a masterpiece.
10. Finally, don’t be afraid to enjoy greens separately. Saute them or eat raw. Season with herbs or oil and vinegar.
Greens are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet; they offer fun, new flavor additions. Perhaps it’s the color that causes us to stay away from the great variety of nutrient-packed veggies. Remember that the Grinch, in all of his greenness, changed his ways and began to love. In that same vein, we too can venture into the leafy green produce section and try something new to love.