There’s a common theme in all the “named” diets of today. Whole30, keto, paleo, vegan, whole food; whether you’re checking out those diets, or just want to be healthier overall, it means … eating more veggies.
Reap the Benefits of Eating Your Greens
Greens are packed full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and are extremely low in calories. Dark, leafy greens are the most nutrient-rich, but if you’re not used to eating kale and spinach, mix it up with some romaine or green leaf lettuce. Fiber is actually a carbohydrate that, unlike grains, the body does not break down into sugar. It keeps your digestive system running smoothly allowing you to digest food more efficiently and regulates your blood sugar. Greens also contain a sugar that promotes good bacteria growth in your gut. And, here’s the biggie, calories! Think of how long it would take you to crunch on a dinner plate full of greens versus just three tortilla chips. In the time it would take to munch on all those leafy greens your body would allow itself to get full – this takes 20 minutes! Three tortilla chips would be gone in 20 seconds and you wouldn’t even know you ate anything, aside from the crumbs on your shirt. Starting with greens on your plate will beef up your meal and you will feel like you are eating A LOT.
Keep It Simple
Have you been in this situation? You’re in the kitchen looking for lunch or dinner. You look in the fridge and last night’s leftovers aren’t exactly calling your name. Maybe yogurt? That’s not enough and it will be finished in 2 minutes, then what? Your stomach is rumbling…what can I have now? I don’t want to be snacking from the pantry all night.
Eating greens has health benefits beyond compare, but how do we get to a point where we actually enjoy our greens? Here’s a simple road map to healthier lunches and dinners that all starts with those leafy greens!
4 Steps to Eating More Greens at Lunch and Dinner
- To start, grab a couple of handfuls of pre-washed greens and load up your plate! After you have a hefty mound of dark and light greens, top with your favorite veggies such as cukes, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, and celery. Try jicama to add even more crunch.
- Now add the fun stuff- fruit. Berries are super easy and pack a lot of flavor. A serving is a handful of berries or a piece of whole fruit the size of your fist. Get creative with half a pomegranate and sprinkle the seeds onto your salad for a tart crunch.
- Next, add healthy fats. Choose from half an avocado, a tablespoon of olive oil, nuts, or cheese. Fats will make your salad heavier and leave you feeling satiated.
- And lastly, protein. Protein doesn’t have to be complicated, but you won’t want to skip it. Eggs, fish, legumes, poultry, and meats are going to keep you fuller longer eliminating future snacking sessions. A serving of protein is the size of your palm.
A salad can get pretty hearty and the good news is that you can have as many greens as you want. A variety of delicious lunches and dinners are waiting for you! Did you want something hot? Top off your greens with last night’s leftover meat and potatoes or even a fried egg. Either of these is ready in 2 minutes or less.
One Last Thing: Hold the Dressing
Masking all your tasty greens with a coating of dressing only adds unwanted calories and is often made with unhealthy oils. Instead, use the four steps above to create your salad first, then sprinkle salt and fresh ground pepper on top. If you believe your greens are just too dry, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil or squeeze a lemon wedge around the outer greens of your salad. Let your toppings flavor your greens and enjoy what you are doing for your body.
Following the four steps above will be an easy adjustment to your meal making. As you get used to natural whole food tastes, you’ll start craving your greens and finding your favorite combinations. Greens will soon take up the majority of your plate at lunch and dinner and you’ll be feeling great!