Spring is finally here and soon, farmers’ markets will be brimming with fresh and local everything, from eggs to dairy, to bold and vibrant fruits and veggies. After a long winter, this is the time of year that screams REFRESH in all areas of life — especially when it comes to what we’re putting on our plates.
This means plenty of those farm-fresh gems sitting ripe and ready at the local market. While fresh veggies are a must-have year ‘round, spring and summer offer the perfect opportunity to optimize, and even revisit, your consumption of fresh produce, especially greens. Though dark and leafy greens are available year-round, cold weather is when we typically turn to warming offerings, like squash and root vegetables. When the weather finally warms it’s time to fill pour plates with everything fresh and local.
Why Optimize Leafy Greens?
Think of greens as the gateway to welcoming more vegetables into your life. Even if you’re already enjoying plenty of natural goodness, there’s always room for more. More veggies equals more nutrients, and by increasing the amount of dark leafy greens you eat, you’ll be adding more iron, B vitamins, beta-carotene and more to your day. Hard to argue with that! Read on to find five super easy ways to add more greens and veggies to your meals daily.
#1— Drink Them!
If you’re not already blending greens and other veggies into your smoothies — now is the time to start. Delicate baby greens like kale and spinach blend so easily into smoothies, you’ll barely notice they’re there. Aim for 1 cup of greens for every smoothie (so add two cups if you’re making a double batch), and while you’re at it try adding other veggies, too! Toss in a quarter cup of frozen zucchini, butternut squash or cauliflower in place of ice to add a nutritious kick and icy chill to your morning drink of choice. Need some inspiration? Try the simple smoothie below:
Green Goodness Smoothie
- 1 cup (or more!) organic baby kale
- 1 small just-ripe banana, frozen
- 1 tbsp all-natural nut butter (almond or peanut work best)
- 1 tsp organic spirulina
- 4 oz. water or unsweetened nut milk
- Add ins: Chia seeds, hemp hearts, protein powder, adaptogens
Directions: Add all ingredients (plus any desired add-ins) to a high-speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Enjoy!
#2 — Juice Them
Ready to go all in? Invest in a juicer and fresh green juice is just seconds from your fingertips. Try adding celery (tops and all), cucumber, kale, herbs, chard and just about anything else without a rind or thick peel — and juice away. Try adding carrots and apple for a hint of sweetness or bask in the natural bitter flavor of freshly juiced green goodness.
#3 — Get Sauced
As in, add them to sauce (you were thinking something else?). Greens like carrot tops and broccoli leaves (yes, you can totally eat broccoli leaves) can easily be blended into pestos and hummus, while kale, spinach, chard and broccoli florets mix seamlessly into pizza sauce. When that pizza or pesto is done, toss another handful of greens on top of your meal just for fun. Similarly, it’s just as easy to add in extra servings of veggies to soups and stews, or use to replace wraps and tortillas (collard greens work especially well for this).
#4— Add a Salad
Not everyone loves a salad, but if you’re a detractor, it’s worth finding a mix that works for you. Why? Adding a handful of greens or other veggies to every plate throughout your day is one of the easiest ways to up your servings of vegetables, which in turn increases your fiber for the day. Why is fiber important? Fiber plays a key role in supporting digestion and gut health, maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, and more. Without it, our bodies can’t function properly. Fresh and fibrous greens and veggies are an excellent source of body-loving fiber, especially for those who avoid gluten and other grains.
#5 — Try a Powder
No time to make a salad? A powdered greens supplement can help fill in the gaps when you can’t get your greens fresh, or when they might be scarce. Perfect for when you’re on the road, or simply looking to add more vitamins to your day. A greens tablet, like 8Greens, is easily portable for when you’re traveling, while a powder mix-in, like Healthforce Vitamineral Green, can easily be stirred into your morning glass of lemon water. Greens powders can’t (and shouldn’t) totally take the place of your daily intake of greens and other veggies, but they’re a great way to up your greens game for optimal wellness!
Do you have tips for adding more greens to your day? Please share by tagging us with @AvocadoMattress or #AvocadoGreenMagazine