It's rare that you come across someone who LOVES eating green foods, but that doesn't have to be the case for any of us. Not only can green foods be delicious, they can make us feel fantastic, helping to cleanse and rebuild even the most jaded of bodies and spirits.
When I first got into raw foods I admit I was one of those raw fooders who relied heavily on fresh juicy fruits, dried fruits and nuts, and most days I'd eat a salad, but it wasn't what I'd now call a "decent" salad. And that's because I've since learned that it's nowhere near enough to have some green on your plate and think that's sufficient, because it's not! We need dark greens, ideally wild greens, and plenty of them. A plate of iceberg lettuce simply won't make the grade.
So in this article I'm sharing with you 10 different ideas to get greens into your daily diet and love them, because not only is it possible, it's vital!
Through various mediums I've shared what I consider to be the easiest/most yummy green smoothie recipe - Mango & Spinach, so hopefully you're up to speed with what they are? (Brief explanation: A large amount of leafy green vegetables blended with some great-tasting ripe fruit of your choice to a soup or smoothie consistency). So how do we incorporate them into our diet? Good times of the day for drinking a green smoothie are: first thing for breakfast (start as you mean to go on - if you start your day with this you'll feel set up for the day ahead and plenty full enough until lunch time); as a brunch if you get hungry between breakfast and lunch time; as a liquid lunch if you are pressed for time; as a pre-dinner course, perfect served as a drink or even a soup; as a supper if you're not hungry enough to eat a “proper” dinner, or if you've come in late from work or a night out and don't want to eat before bed.
2: Variety is the Spice of Life
We are all guilty of falling into ruts with our eating habits, eating the same things over and over again, but it's important in all diets to eat a wide variety of foods for pleasure and nutrition. So too is it important to choose a wide variety of greens from the vast range of green leafy vegetables (and herbs) and not just finding one and sticking with it. Here's a starter list of green leafies that you can use as a checklist. Whichever ones you haven't eaten for a while (or ever!) make it your personal project to hunt them down and try them out - starting this week!
Beet greens * Chicory * Chard * Endive * Kale, flat green * Kale, curly * Lamb's lettuce * Lettuce, Batavia * Lettuce, Cos * Lettuce, flat * Lettuce, iceberg * Mizuna * Rocket (arugula) * Spinach * Turnip greens * Basil * Chervil * Chickweed * Chive * Comfrey leaves * Coriander * Dandelion * Dillweed * Garlic mustard * Lovage * Mallow * Marjoram * Mint * Nettle * Oregano * Parsley * Peppermint * Purslane * Raspberry leaf * Rosemary * Sage * Salad burnet * Shepherd's purse * Sorrel * Spearmint * Watercress * Wild celery * Wild garlic * Yarrow
3: Green Soups
Green Soups are similar to green smoothies but are thicker, and obviously are looked on as meals rather than drinks. There are some great green soup recipes around. One of my personal favourites is Green Ginger Soup which goes like this… Simply take the following ingredients and blend in your food processor, blender or Vita-Mix until smooth: 1 cup diced tomatoes, ½ cup water, 2 cups spinach, ½ avocado, ½" fresh ginger, juice of ½ lemon, 1Tbsp olive oil. Serves 1. It's truly delicious.
4: Take a Walk on the Wild Side
It's rarely mentioned but I need to here - it's vital for all of us to eat wild greens. These greens are (for the most part) as natural and potent as you're going to get because they're (typically) untouched by man and have not been treated in any way. So arm yourself with a guide book such as “Food for Free” and a carrier bag (and gloves if you're going to pick nettles) and take yourself off for a walk to your nearest wood, farm or leafy park and see what you can find. Of course the great thing about this route is that the food is free, abundant and it's going to be fresh, fresh, fresh! AND you really feel the difference when you eat wild foods - they're electric! Great in juices, smoothies, various savoury recipes and of course any salads too.
5: Green Juices
Green juices are of course another great way to get the greens in. The difference between smoothies and juices is fibre - juices have no fibre, whereas smoothies have ALL of the fibre, however, if you find smoothies too bulky or you just don't like them, then juicing is a great alternative. The secret of a good green juice is to work with 1-3 strong green leaves such as kale, spinach, watercress, parley, wheatgrass etc., then add cucumber and/or celery for more liquid and extra vitamins and minerals, and if you feel your juice needs sweetening, add a little apple, pear, carrot, red bell pepper, lemon or lime. There's nothing like a green juice for lifting your energy and mind, especially first thing in the morning. Don't forget, to juice greens you need a juicer that is capable of handling them, such as a Green Star - most centrifugals won't be able to handle them.
Herbs are nature's medicine and also one of the chef's best allies. Herbs are so delicious and so fresh tasting that I encourage you to eat fresh herbs at least once per day. Add them to your smoothies, juices, to your salads and your savoury recipes. Line your window sills with them, they look stunning! Fresh herbs really do make all the difference.
Wheatgrass is the mother of all greens, really. There are many ways you can take wheatgrass, but obviously freshly juiced is best. For more information about wheatgrass, including the many ways to take it and its benefits, click here.
8: The Kale & Avocado Salad!
I've published this recipe a number of times but for those who missed it, you can watch me demo it in person right here. This salad is something that I rave about constantly. Everyone who tries it seems to adore it AND then goes on to incorporate it into their everyday life, not just now and again but daily! Why? Because it's quick, easy and delicious and very versatile AND it enables you to happily eat tons of dark leafy greens! This is what you do:
Finely chop as much kale as you think you can eat plus a little more (it shrinks). Make the pieces fairly small, say 1-2cm square, and set aside in a bowl. Then pour on some olive oil (flax oil is good too, as are others) and sprinkle on a little good quality salt such as Celtic sea salt or Himalayan Crystal Salt, or Herbamare. Next, massage the oil and salt into the leaves until the kale becomes “wilted” and glistens. At this point the kale suddenly appears extremely appetizing and you can start to see the potential! Next add half to one avocado and massage that in to the leaves as well. Now you have coated kale. Next, give a good squeeze of lemon juice and mix it all in by hand. Taste test. Add more lemon if you want/need to. Finally, add in your favourite ingredients. For me this means sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, occasionally spring onions (scallions), and sometimes I'll sprinkle on some garlic or onion powder, or even curry powder! Whatever takes your fancy. And sometimes I dress it with a cup of macadamias blended with ½ cup water and onion powder added. When you have all your ingredients well mixed in, sample a little and add anything that you think might be missing (highly unlikely!) and then sit down, exhale and enjoy!
9: The Superfood Smoothie
Superfood smoothies are never going to be as good as real live fresh green smoothies, but when your fridge is bare then turn to your cupboards and pull out your Nature's Living Superfood (Vita Mineral Greens in USA) or other favourite green superfood powder and whip up a smoothie with it and other chosen ingredients.
10: Your Own Special Way
Each of us develops favourite ways of doing things over time. Periodically, for example, I will take E3 Live or wheatgrass juice, and then "let go of it" when my body no longer asks for it. Similarly, green superfoods work the same way, as do herbs and all manner of other raw foods in my dietary vocabulary. Follow your own way with greens, whatever that way is, adding more into your daily regime can only be a very good thing!
© 2012 Karen Knowler WOULD YOU LIKE TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR ON YOUR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach publishes "Successfully Raw" - a free weekly eZine for raw food lovers everywhere. If you're ready to look good, feel great and create a raw life you love get your FREE tips, tools and recipes now at www.TheRawFoodCoach.com.