We all know that we should include more greens in our meals, but sometimes it is hard to figure out exactly how to go about fitting in those extra, essential servings of green vegetables. If you don’t like the taste or if you’re just having difficulty trying to increase your servings, these ideas will motivate you to experiment in the kitchen once again.
Beginning your day with vegetables is a nice way to get a head start on fitting in all of the recommended servings of greens. One of the easiest ways to incorporate greens is in a breakfast shake. Spinach is the perfect choice; it breaks down easily in a blender and you can add as much as several cups of fresh spinach to your shake without tasting any bitter spinach flavour.
A basic recipe for a green breakfast shake is one to two cups liquid, one to two frozen bananas (broken into chunks), a couple cups of fresh greens and some kind of nut butter for protein. Experiment with using water or milk and try different kinds of nut butters for enhanced flavour.
Blend until the drink is smooth and frothy; it will be a green colour, but the spinach should be completely dissolved in the liquid. The first few times, use just one cup of spinach. Add more as you get used to it. Start out using one or two bananas for the creamy texture; decrease it to half a banana as you adjust to the green shake.
You can also add fresh or frozen berries for something a little fruitier.
If you prefer to munch on your food rather than drink it, consider a breakfast salad: use greens as a base and pile it high with a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. Add more fruit to begin with – the sweetness will help you get used to having salad for breakfast. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over top for a light dressing, or top the salad with yogurt or hummus. You can also add some nuts or granola for extra crunch.
Another quick way to ease more vegetables into your daily meals (without really noticing it) is to steam several cups of spinach and add it to a mixture of beans and rice at lunch. Fresh spinach compacts to a very small amount when it is steamed, so you can easily eat the equivalent of two or three cups once it’s on your plate. Mix hot sauce, soy sauce, a sprinkle of cheese and a few grinds of black pepper into your rice/beans/spinach dish and you’ll have a fast meal bursting with flavour.
Piling fresh steamed, baked or grilled vegetables in your stir fries, sandwiches, soups, stews, curries and sauces will provide you with an abundance of nutrients.
Challenge yourself to include a vegetable with every meal and snack.
The combination possibilities are endless once you let your creativity take over.
University of Winnipeg student Sagan Morrow writes a health and wellness blog.
Published in Volume 64, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 25, 2010)