Creative Ways to Increase Your Green Intake: Spinach & Kale

One of you asked me to write about more ways to incorporate greens into food (aside from smoothies). It seems that kale and spinach are all the rage these days (and as a nutrition-junkie, I just LOVE that). Below are a few practical ways to incorporate more greens into your meals!Image

Breakfast:

  • Any egg or egg-substitute scramble is delicious with chopped spinach. Throw it into a scramble or in an omelet to add Imagegreat color variety and fiber!
  • An Actually Good Spinach and Kale Smoothie: Okay, so my boyfriend jokes and calls this my “Garden smoothie”—and he isn’t too far off. I like to sneak spinach and/or kale (or chard, celery, carrots…you get the picture) into as much as possible. Most “spinach smoothies” taste like, um, spinach. This one is actually pretty good. It has a Caribbean feel. Ingredients: ½ mango, ½ green apple, ½ banana, 1 small spear of pineapple (or about ½ c. chopped), ½ c. water,  1 large organic carrot (or 3 baby carrots), a small handful of spinach and a small handful of kale. (I PROMISE you’ll like this one!)

Lunch/Dinner/Linner:

  • Spinach Salads:  I literally have a spinach, kale, and other-veggie salad every single day. I don’t get sick of the stuff, however, because I always decorate my salad differently. Find low-calorie, all organic, low-sugar and low-sodium dressings and STOCK UP. (I know these are hard to come by, so I’ll be blogging about great ways to MAKE salad dressing soon!) Some of my favorites are Trader Joe’s (or Trader Darwin’s depending on if you’re in the US or elsewhere) Cilantro-Lime vinaigrette and homemade balsamic vinaigrette (light on honey).
  • Protein wraps: I often make these when I really need some sustained energy. Simply lay out whole spinach leaves (buy the large, organic heads of spinach; kale works great here as well!) and place turkey on top. Add in some homemade pesto or just a dab of hummus and roll the wrap (so the spinach is on the outside). These tasty little treats pack the protein for a power punch! Note: you can also do these with the meat on the outside and the green stuff on the inside! Do what works for you!
  • Actual Wraps: If you’d like, you can buy a healthy tortilla and make a crap with spinach, meat of your choice, hummus, and chopped veggies for a complete meal!
  • Pasta N’ Greens: I don’t eat a ton of pasta, but because I run long distances, I have to eat the stuff sometimes. (I’m acting as if I don’t like it—I love Pasta, I just try to watch the carb intake.) Before my race a week ago, I made some whole wheat pasta with shredded spinach and just a tad of organic tomato/marinara sauce. The result? Amazing!
  • Quinoa! For those of you who aren’t yet on the Quinoa train, you ought to hop on! For summer barbeques, I usually throw together something that looks a little like this: ImageQuinoa, black beans, chopped tomatoes (organic, of course), some cilantro, a squeeze of lime, a dash of cumin, and a whole lot of chopped spinach. Not only do the varying colors look enticing, but they all compliment each other in the taste-department too!
  • Casseroles: I don’t know of many super healthy casserole options, but I have heard of people laying out leafy greens in each layer of casseroles. This is one of the meals I am currently working up ideas for, so more on this one later!
  • Soups: I have yet to meet a soup that does not look better with spinach. If you are cooking a water or broth-based soup, spinach is great in the soup (for instance, I made taco soup, and just before serving I added in a handful of chopped spinach to add to the great colors). If you are serving a cream-based soup (because desperate times call for desperate measures…) the soup can be garnished with/topped with spinach.
  • Dips: Spinach yogurt dip, or yogurt Kale dip (available at Trader Joes is a great way to increase veggie intake. Say no to crackers and dip carrots into this dip, and you’re Imagedoing double the good! Note: I’ll be blogging about homemade spinach and kale dips in upcoming weeks!
  • Chips!: What? Chips on a healthfood blog? YES! Kale chips are delicious, and if done correctly, they replace your craving for potato chips. I’ll be posting a friend’s recipe, but the general idea is that she braises fresh spinach with EVOO, sprinkles with Imagenutritional yeast (gives the cheese flavor without the fat and calories, plus it’s full of Vitamin B!). The chips smell amazing and they’re always gone quickly!

Lastly, understand that eating greens, like everything else, is just a part of complete health. While kale, spinach, and other dark leafy greens are full of great vitamins—I recommend consulting your doctor about your diet before drastically increasing your intake. If you have heart problems, blood problems, or general health issues, these particular foods may not be the best for you (because they can be blood thinners). In general, it is wise to just focus on a holistically healthy diet, full of all sorts of varying vegetables.

Keep those questions coming!
Also, feel free to submit questions via ‘Tiff’s Tips’ facebook page!

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