Some people have a really hard time "eating their vegetables". I've come across many people who just don't have the palate for them. Their taste-buds have been hijacked by all the grains and sugars out there. Or it could be a gut issue and some vegetables can be hard on those who have stomach ailments, which used to be my case.
Its still important to "eat your veggies" because they are chock full of different nutrients and essential fibers that bind with toxins to help remove them. And one simple way to improve your eating regime is to add green. Sound boring? It might be, if you are only thinking lettuce, and perhaps iceberg lettuce at that.
Green leafy vegetables are some of the most nutrient dense and quickest to prepare. Always clean them well and make certain not to over cook – they should retain their vibrant green colour. You may wonder where to start as you explore the leafy green alternatives. Here are some ideas to help you out.
The greener lettuces have more nutrients and more bang for your buck. Try romaine, Boston or green leaf lettuce as an alternative to iceberg. If you have a picky palette, then retrain yourself by mixing your lettuces to minimize the “health shock”.
Remember Popeye? He was onto something big. Spinach is a wonderful alternative to lettuce when used raw, yet can be added discretely to a number of cooked dishes. Because it wilts easily, you require an abundant amount when cooking, with a minimal amount of heat. It has an impressive array of nutrients including potassium, calcium and iron. When eaten with a vitamin C alternative, the iron absorption potential is maximized.
The feathery leaves of Arugula have a distinct peppery flavour that tend to hold up well in a salad when a bit of fruity sweetness such as pieces of ripe pear or some dried cranberries is added. The baby green variety has a milder taste, making this nutritious green an alternative worth considering.
Escarole is part of the chicory family. Its light and darker green leaves are sturdy with crinkled edges. It tends to have a tangy taste. Though it is a versatile green, it makes a good substitute for romaine lettuce as it maintains its shape well. It is chock full of vitamin K, folate and manganese, providing a good array of little known nutrients.
Kale has long stems with bright green, curly edged leaves. It is a member of the cabbage family and therefore is a great bearer of nutrients, including vitamins K, C, and A. It also provides a good amount of potassium to help lower blood pressure. Kale has a mildly sharp cabbage taste and stands up well to a light sauté. Add your favourite seasonings for a great side dish. Remove the tougher stems prior to using and as with all leafy produce, clean well.
Also known as broccoli rabe, rapini presents with thin stalks, serrated leaves and potentially some blower buds. It si very tender and maintains its deep green colour even when lightly cooked. Add some olive oil and a little salt and pepper. It tastes best with a little chili and garlic.
Another green that stands up well to cooking, Swiss Chard is a broad-leaved vegetable with white or red stems. It tastes somewhat similar to spinach and makes a nice change in flavour. It is a powerhouse of nutrients, calcium and iron among them. Again, add a little oil and some of your favourite flavourings.
Be creative, try something new. Go ahead – you just may surprise yourself.
Recipe: Spinach Pesto Pasta
What a great way to get an additional vegetable onto your plate and it’s as easy as one-two-three!
Serves 4 people
4 cups of baby spinach
1-2 cloves of garlic to taste
¼ cup toasted almond slivers
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup shiitake mushrooms
Olive oil (to consistency)
4 servings of spelt or rice pasta of your choice
Place the spinach in a food processor along with the garlic and almonds. Process until the spinach breaks down. Add the lemon juice and, while continuing to process, slowly add the olive oil until it is of a pasty consistency. Meanwhile, boil the pasta until al dente and then drain. Slice the mushrooms and sauté them in a little olive oil until they are crisp. In a pasta bowl, mix the cooked pasta and the pesto and serve topped with the mushrooms.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Don’t like spinach? Use kale instead. For some tang, try sesame oil instead of olive oil.
CANNP, Newsworthy Supplement 1-1/1-2/12
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Michelle Post is a C.H.N.C. Holistic Nutrition Consultant and a graduate of the Metabolic Balance® Program (2016), Business Wellness Systems (2015) the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition 2015, and graduate of the Coaches Training Institute (2009).
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