5 simple ways to get more greens in your diet
Author Max Gowland, PhD
Last updated 2nd December 2020
Over Fifties Health
We've all heard the 5 a day rule and we know that getting an adequate amount of fruit and vegetables into our diet is vital to keeping our bodies healthy. And whilst it may not be so difficult to incorporate fruit into our diet on a daily basis, getting vegetables in, especially those of the green variety is not always so appealing. Many of us will happily snack on a juicy pear or some tasty berries throughout the day. But how many of us enjoy snacking on some kale leaves, broccoli trees or raw Brussels sprouts, no matter how good they are for us?
Adding more greens into your diet is by far one of the best things you can do to enhance it with nutrients and vitamins. These superfoods are jam-packed with some of the following:
- Vitamins A, B, C, E and K
- Flavonoids and phytochemicals
Green veg benefits our health in so many ways, including lowering cholesterol, improving circulation and supporting our immune system. There’s no doubt that we should be eating more, but in order to do that, you need to enjoy eating them.
If you’re not so keen on your greens, here are 5 top tips on how you can sneak them into your diet.
1. Add them into food you love
Eating greens becomes much easier when they complement or blend into other foods that you love. For example, if you are making burgers, add in some chopped spinach and green onion to your patties. If you’re taking a sandwich or wrap to work with you add in some spinach, lettuce or watercress to go with the main filling. If you love making veggie soup but tend to stick to carrots, potato, swede and onion then try adding in a few Brussels sprouts and some peas to the mixture. It won't make much of a difference to the taste, but it will increase your greens quota. Give the gift of greens to stews, curries and chillies, too. For stews try adding in some hearty winter greens such as beet, turnip greens, kale and swiss chard, just be sure to add them towards the end of cooking so they retain some of their texture. For chilli, finely sliced kale and cabbage will go well and you can add some chopped raw spinach to the top of the dish when serving too.
2. Take a green multivitamin supplement
An easy and convenient way to add greens to your diet is to take a daily supplement made from green vegetables. There has been huge growth in the popularity of these supplements. Many come in a convenient powder, capsule or juice form, which makes it very easy for those that hate greens or just don't have the time to cook them, obtain a quick boost of wholesome green nutrients.
3. Add some sauce and seasoning
By simply lightly sautéing green vegetables and adding the right sauce or seasoning you can make a bitter tasting snack or side dish taste much better. Add flavour to your greens by cooking them with aromatics like onions, garlic and shallots. Experiment with different herbs and spices, add some Worcester or soy sauce or grate some fresh ginger into some oil and coat the greens with the seasoned oil. If your greens still have some bitterness, then try balancing it out by adding some nectar to sweeten them or try adding a bit of vinegar for a more acidic taste. Play around with different combinations to find out what your favourites are. Try cutting sprouts in half, sautéing them in a little butter and sprinkling sea salt and chilli flakes on top – delicious!
4. Incorporate them into your breakfast
If you’re all about breakfast, then there are some great ways to incorporate greens into your first meal of the day. If you love an egg sandwich then you can easily add some spinach or kale. Or try mixing in some kale, Brussels sprouts or asparagus to a potato hash mixture and topping it off with a sunny side up egg. If you prefer your eggs scrambled or if your go to breakfast is an omelette, then you can easily add in lots of greens to both dishes such as spinach, chopped broccoli, asparagus or courgette. For a simple go to green breakfast, dress and season hearty greens with a vinaigrette and top with a poached egg and some parmesan.
5. Add them to a smoothie
If you can't face eating your greens or you are simply not in the mood for them, why not try adding them into a smoothie. It doesn't need to be a green smoothie specifically – you can add them into your usual fruit or protein smoothie.
Try this basic mixture:
- Greens such as spinach, kale, swiss chard, parsley, broccoli or watercress.
- Fruit such as sliced peaches, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, pear, mango, apple, lemon or pineapple (frozen or fresh).
- Protein you can add in a protein powder or try Greek yogurt, nut butter or pumpkin seeds.
- Healthy fats such as avocado, flaxseeds or coconut oil (some of your protein sources will also give you the necessary dose of healthy fats such as nut butter).