My clients always ask me, "If there is one thing I can do to better my health, or one food item I can add in that is amazing for me... what is it?" My answer is always greens! If there is any place to start, it is with greens. No matter what your diet currently consists of -- whether you are an omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian (little bit of this and a little bit of that), raw foodie -- it doesn't matter. Getting your greens in is the first step to optimal and long-lasting health.
Most people do not eat enough green veggies. Yet their nutritional values are immense. Recent studies have shown that populations with diets rich in green leafy vegetables may have a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Not to mention they support bone health, aid in detoxification and are an excellent source of antioxidants and fiber.
Leafy green vegetables are one of nature's richest sources of a full spectrum of nutrients. So look beyond to spinach and broccoli and get familiar with things like kale, collards, Swiss chard, arugula, bok choy.
Depending on what you are going for, there are so many ways to get your green veggies in. The good news is that each one offers a very different unique taste and texture. Even if you have to sneak them into a smoothie for the fussy ones in the family, I promise you -- there is always a way!
Whether you are following a vegan diet, or just want to take your nutrition to the next level -- greens should be an essential component to your day. Choosing a leafy green such as kale, will boost up your meal, give your body an extra dose of much-needed calcium, magnesium, iron and fiber, and compliment anything and everything on your plate. Kale is fantastic when it is just lightly steamed, sautéed or chopped up and marinated raw into a salad. They even make great "chips" (see recipe below). This goes for any green by the way, so really you can't go wrong and the possibilities are endless.
It is very common to get overwhelmed when it comes to greens. My suggestion is to start with the basics. Pick one new green a week to "play" with until you have found a way for you and your family to enjoy it. The number one complaint is that greens are too bitter. Well, yes collards and kale can be bitter -- especially if they are new to your palette. Once you find a way to get them into a meal -- whether they are added to a smoothie, tomato sauce, chickpea stew, chunky vegetable soup, grain dish or simply dressed with olive oil and sea salt, there is no turning back. You will be hooked because you might suddenly start to feel better, have more energy and you may even lose weight. That doesn't sound bad, does it?
My suggestion is to experiment with nature's emerald gems, have fun and to make sure YOU get your greens in everyday. Just remember that a meal isn't a meal unless there is something green on your plate!
Zesty Kale Chips
2 head Kale, washed and torn
¾ cup Tahini
¼ cup Tamari
¼ cup Apple cider vinegar
½ cup Water
1 clove Garlic
1 Lemon, juiced
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
¼ cup of Nutritional yeast or hemp seeds
Place kale in a large mixing bowl. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth to get a thick consistency. You may have to add more water. Pour over kale and mix thoroughly with your hands to coat the kale. You want this mixture to be really glued onto the kale.
Place kale onto a Teflex sheet, on top of a mesh dehydrator screen, and dehydrate for six hours at 115 degrees. You'll need to use two trays. Rotate kale occasionally to dry uniformly.
Place on parchment paper on a sheet tray, and bake on a low temperature for about 30 minutes or more. Keep and eye on them and turn them often to make sure they dry evenly.