How to eat more greens

How to eat more greens

Thanks to all of you who answered the survey over the summer; your feedback is invaluable and I take your answers to heart.

One question that popped up a lot was how do I eat healthy? And, yes, you assumed correctly that I, like you, have to strike a balance with a life outside of the kitchen ; )

In that vein, I wanted to share my strategy to get in enough dark leafy greens. It takes a little prep time upfront, but then rewards you with nutritious greens through the week.

And, I’ll be totally honest, eating lots of greens is a practice that I have grown into. When I started naturopathic school, I didn’t eat kale or cauliflower and arugula was barely on my radar. Just know it’s ok for it to be a process.

I generally recommend that people shoot to have 4 cups of dark leafy greens a day. 2 cups with lunch and 2 cups with dinner. This is going to give you:

  • A daily dose of powerful antioxidants to help you detoxify and cool inflammation
  • Fiber to encourage daily elimination
  • Food for healthy gut bacteria

What do I mean when I refer to dark leafy greens? I’m talking about the following vegetables:

  • Arugula
  • Bok choy
  • Beet greens
  • Broccoli and rapini
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage (all colors)
  • Cauliflower
  • Chard
  • Collard green
  • Dandelion greens
  • Kale
  • Lettuces (including red leaf, green leaf, romaine, butter lettuce, radicchio, endive, frisee, escarole)
  • Mustard greens
  • Spinach

For our purposes today, we’ll concentrate on making a salad mix that can be eaten raw and will give you 4 cups daily.

You’ll need:

  • A couple cotton “greens bag” Something like this.
  • Variety of salad greens. Pick and choose from the italicized greens above: For example, one head each of romaine, radicchio, butter lettuce, a small box of baby arugula and 1 bunch of kale.
  • Salad spinner
  • Plastic storage bag

Set aside about 20 minutes to get everything prepped, cleaned and stored. Fill a clean sink with cool water. Prep the lettuces. The radicchio will have a center core that needs to be removed. Slice into thin ribbons. Add to sink full of water. Remove tough end of the romaine and butter lettuce and tear into small pieces. Add to sink. Stem kale and tear/cut into thin pieces/ribbons. Add to sink. Pour in baby arugula. Give everything a good stir. The dirt will settle to the bottom of the sink.

Grab handfuls of lettuce mix and transfer to salad spinner to spin and dry. Transfer dried mix to your cotton bag. Continue this process until you’ve spun and dried all the lettuce mix. Store the cotton bag in a Ziploc and transfer to the fridge. Salad mix will keep for about 4-5 days.

Now that you’ve got your fresh and nutritionally dense mix you can add 2 cups to lunch and dinner (or breakfast). I dress mine with sea salt, a generous amount of good olive oil and lemon juice. If you’re feeling super fancy, you can make a dressing, but I find that the olive oil route is the quickest.

The guidelines above are just that. The amount of greens I tallied above usually last about 4 days for 3 adults. So, if you have more eaters, increase the variety or heads of lettuce and if you’ve got less, cut back.

And one final note, you may have heard that cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, collards) can suppress thyroid function. It appears as if this is the case when eating them raw and in very high amounts. If you have low thyroid function, I suggest being mindful of raw cruciferous veggies. The 4 cups described here wouldn’t be considered a high amount, but you have to keep an eye if you’re also juicing too, for example, because that number would start to creep up.

Hope this routine helps you get your green game on!

Happy salad eating,