Claiming that I’m obsessed with greens (vegetables in general to be honest) is probably an understatement. I LOVE broccoli and courgettes (or zucchinis depending on where you’re from!) and eat them most days, if not every day. I always have a container in the fridge full of cooked, steamed or roasted veggies and a huge bag of prepared salad so that meal times are that little bit easier. I am genuinely one of those people that loves vegetables and I’m not afraid to say so! If I go a day or two without nourishing my body with them, I feel cranky, irritable, lethargic and de-motivated. My days seem to just run so much smoother (both mentally and physically) when I fill my plate with all that green, colourful goodness.

I always suggest filling half your plate with veggies and making most of them dark, leafy greens.

There are so many benefits of fuelling your body with these delicious, nourishing foods, that you’re doing your body, soul and mind a disservice by not indulging in them.

In fact, greens are the most commonly missing food in modern diets. In a world where we are all so busy all of them time, it seems common practice to reach for those convenience foods – the sad thing about that, is that most of the time we end up filling our bodies with processed junk and neglecting the fact that our bodies need those vibrant, colourful whole foods to thrive.

Incorporating dark, leafy greens into your diet is vital for establishing a healthy body and thriving immune system.

Leafy Greens

Benefits of Greens:

The benefits of greens are endless – if I were to make a list, I’d be here forever – the minerals, vitamins and antioxidants are all needed by our bodies so that our internal systems can thrive. Here are a few reasons why greens are gold dust for our bodies:

Nutrient content

Vitamins are needed to sustain bodily functions, they act as essential links & regulators in the systems that release energy from the food we eat and they are involved in building, repairing and maintaining healthy tissues within our bodies. We need minerals as they are components of many coenzymes and hormones within our bodies (without these, we simply wouldn’t be able to function!). Finally, those antioxidants help to protect our bodies from free-radical damage which is vital for optimum health! Of course you can obtain vitamins and minerals from other food sources, but trust me when I say veggies are your best friend!

Greens tend to be high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamins a, c, k – fibre, folic acid, chlorophyll and other micronutrients and phytochemicals.

Crowding out

Crowding out is one of my favourite terms when it comes to establishing a healthy and non-restrictive diet. I don’t believe in restriction of any kind and rather than focusing on ‘cutting out’ or ‘eliminating’ certain foods from your diet, crowding out focuses on adding more nutrient dense foods into your diet so the junk foods naturally crowd themselves out. Greens help to crowd out the foods that aren’t so good for you. When you fill half of your plate with these amazing vegetables, the fibre fills you up and you may notice that you don’t end up reaching for that second portion or even dessert after dinner.

Alkalising

Greens help to strengthen both the blood and respiratory system – mostly due to the high vitamin and mineral content contained within them. They are considered to be high alkaline foods and these may be beneficial to those who are exposed to higher amounts of pollution. If you live in the city, a built up area, are surrounded my car and industrial fumes, then you may be at risk of a higher exposure to those free-radicals that can cause damage within our bodies. Eating greens not only helps to replenish your alkaline mineral stores, but they also provide your body with those essential antioxidants to help fight those pesky free-radicals.

Fibre

Our bodies need fibre to help maintain bowel regularity and prevent a whole heap of health problems. As well as allowing our guts to tick along smoothly, fibre also helps to fill us up, balance our blood sugar levels and leave us feeling fuller for longer. Greens that are packed full of fibre include kale, avocados, broccoli, asparagus and brussel sprouts.

Iron

Iron is needed by our bodies not only because it’s an important part of our blood but also because it helps to keep your immune system healthy and produces energy. To boost the absorption of iron in vegetables, pair iron rich foods with foods high in vitamin C. Iron rich foods include bok choy, kale, cabbage and spinach.

Other benefits of greens include:

  • Blood purification
  • Cancer prevention
  • Improved circulation
  • Strengthened immune system
  • Promotion of gut bacteria
  • Improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function
  • Cleared congestion in lungs
  • Fight inflammation

How to get more greens in your diet:

Meal prep

I believe that meal prep is a key factor in maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. Meal prepping your veggies is a fantastic way of making sure you always have ready made vegetables available for your meals – especially if you’re short on time. When they’re ready and prepared in your fridge, they are convenient to add to your plate at meal times.

Some easy way to prep your veggies and greens are:

  • Steam a big batch of greens and store them in your fridge
  • Wash your leafy greens such as salads, rocket and spinach and store them in the fridge
  • Roast root veggies and store in the fridge
  • Chop up veg such as carrots and cucumber into snack sized batons for a convenient snack
  • Chop up your veg when you buy them so that cooking doesn’t take up as much time

Fill half your plate

Make it a priority to fill half of your plate with greens. When you plate up at lunch or dinner, start off by filling your plate with these veggies and then add good quality protein, carbs and a small helping of fat. That way, you’re getting a balanced meal and filling your body with all those nourishing greens.

Eat greens with every meal

As well as filling your plate half full with greens, try to eat greens at every meal – especially breakfast – here’s how to add greens to your breakfast:

  • I love to add spinach, courgette or avocado to my morning smoothies
  • Add spinach or watercress to your poached eggs on toast
  • Smash avocado onto your toast instead of using butter
  • Make courgette oats (this is one of my favourite breakfasts!)
  • Make a green juice

Make snacks containing greens

There are so many snacks that you can make at home that contain greens – Prep your greens and veggies in advance into snacks to that they’re convenient for you to grab when you’re in a rush or on the go.

  • Make a mini veggie quiche or fritter containing courgette, broccoli, green beans or even spinach
  • Chop up cucumber sticks or green capsicum (any other veggie sticks) and eat them with hummus
  • Make homemade hummus and add in spinach, courgette or even avocado to get more greens into your dip
  • Make a salad and store it in an airtight container in the fridge
  • Roast some kale in the oven to make kale chips

Find greens you enjoy

It’s important to enjoy the food that you’re eating. There are so many different types of vegetables and greens with varying tastes and textures so experiment and eat the ones you like. If you don’t like kale, then don’t eat it! If you dislike broccoli, then find another vegetable that you enjoy. There are also different cooking techniques that can add flavours and change the textures of your greens so have fun playing around in the kitchen. I love steaming my greens, but you may prefer to roast them. It’s all about having fun and eating food that not only is nourishing for your body, but that you find delicious as well.


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