July 24, 2017

Sneaky Veggies: How to Cleverly Incorporate Greens into Your Diet


 I’m always a bit shocked when someone tells me they hate vegetables. I clutch my pearls and make a vow to sway them to the other side. Plants are one of the greatest gifts from Mother Earth! My goal is to turn the world into a veggie-loving place, one person at a time.

An easy way to get yourself to add more veggies to your diet is to sneak them into your food any chance you get. I have a few methods I like to use to boost the nutrition in some of our favorite dishes.

Green Smoothies

Everybody’s doing it! Adding a handful or two of leafy greens is one of the mainstream ways people are starting their mornings off on the right foot. We’ve all pretty much accepted throwing some spinach into the blender with whatever fruit we have available, and sipping the bright green goodness. Of course, we can always amp it up even more! To start, switch up your greens. Swiss chard is a nice substitute for kale or spinach. Also, chinese broccoli has a mild flavor and that works well. I get extra veggie power by adding in green juice powder, spirulina, and a plant-based protein powder (say that three times fast) that already has dried greens in it.

If you’re in the market for a green juice powder, make sure to get one that’s raw and organic. Try samples before purchasing a whole container if possible, since they can be a bit rough on your tastebuds and wallet- lemony swamp water is a flavor that comes to mind. The flavor will be masked for the most part by the other ingredients in your smoothie, but don’t get a flavor that’s too strong or different from your usual smoothie ingredients. I’d recommend going for vanilla, chocolate or berry.

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that packs a ton of nutrition in a tiny amount. You only need about a teaspoon to get 4 servings of veggies! Work your way up to this amount since it’s an acquired taste. I started with ¼ teaspoon, then a half, now a whole one.

You’ll get used to the taste of the green juice powder and spirulina if you have it regularly.

Obviously, I prefer hempseed-based protein powders. My favorite is from Aloha, it’s mixed with pumpkin seed protein, pea protein, and a few other healthy ingredients. It’s organic too! I’d also recommend trying out their green juice powders. Both of these powders are good mixed with just water, but even better blended in a smoothie with greens, some frozen fruit, and almond milk or (coconut) water.

There are some protein powders that have greens added to them already, but I’ll still add fresh or frozen greens to my smoothies because, why not? Also, I highly recommend using frozen fruit and greens instead of fresh for your smoothie. They’re cheaper than fresh, last longer, and make your smoothie even creamier. But most importantly, frozen fruit and greens make your smoothie colder, without adding ice which would water it down. Trust me on this, warm smoothies are gross.

You can also add other veggies to your smoothies! Get creative, but stick to mild flavors. Of course we need chlorophyll, fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C and folate that we can get from greens. But doesn’t hurt to increase the nutrients in our smoothies by drinking a variety of veggies. Beets are awesome in smoothies, giving a beautiful deep red color and an earthy taste. Add ginger for a nice kick and digestion benefits. Broccoli is high and protein, blending in undetected. Help your eyesight by adding carrots. Avocado adds healthy fats to keep you fuller longer. Red bell pepper adds a nice sweetness and vibrant color. Zucchini and cucumbers add water to keep you hydrated. Just an FYI, cucumbers don’t blend well with protein powder or nut butters. You don’t have to stick to raw veggies, try steamed root veggies, squashes and gourds! Cooked sweet potatoes and pumpkin are filling in the fall. Even steamed eggplant and rutabaga would work nicely- just chill them before using. Ditch that Danish or the soggy breakfast sandwich. You have no excuse to start off your day with a meal lacking in greens and filled with sugar. You deserve better mornings.

Your Favorite Dishes, Made Healthier

So, we’ve covered breakfast. Most of us have a decent amount of veggies for lunch and dinner. Here are a few hacks to add even more delicious nutrition for your next two meals.

To thicken soups and sauces, add a veggie puree. I love steaming a bunch of carrots and blending them to add to pasta sauce or a stew. Shred some zucchini: great for adding to ground meat dishes and baked goods. Try butternut squash pasta, pumpkin pancakes, sweet potato brownies. If you haven’t done so yet, you need to try cauliflower rice! Zoodles! Use spinach instead of regular lettuce in sandwiches. Look up a recipe for chocolate avocado pudding. Wrap sandwich ingredients in a large-leaf green like collards or swiss chard. Incorporate Meatless Mondays. Try a grilled cauliflower “steak”. Have a salad every day with dinner. (That’s not sneaky but it definitely helps!)The possibilities are endless!

Or keep it simple, just add a handful of spinach to anything you’re going to eat. --N