Happy St Patrick’s Day. I’m ready to go all green! Green is good, right? When I think of “green”, I think of good things like making environmentally friendly choices, and how the yard turns green with the warmer spring weather. The color green is about harmony, growth, renewal and rebirth.
Maybe that’s why green foods are so healthy and helpful to our bodies.
The green pigment in plants, called chlorophyll, increases blood-cell production, and improves oxygenation, detoxification and circulation. Green vegetables are rich in minerals and some of the most essential nutrients vital to good health such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins B, C, E, and K. They are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower bad cholesterol.
During the period of Lent, my hubby “gives up” something he considers hard to resist such as ice-cream or French fries. I like to adopt something that is better for me. This year I decided to challenge myself to include at least one green food in each meal. I have found that it’s not that hard and I’ve upped my nutrient quotient considerably. Last night I made a salad with 8 different kinds of green items: red tipped lettuce, butter lettuce, baby romaine, baby spinach, avocado, cucumber and green peppers, plus I added a fat pinch of micro greens that I had picked up at our local farmers’ market. Wow! And it was so pretty and delicious.
After a week of “going green”, I was surprised by my reduced cravings for sugary treats and salty snacks. I’ve been fueling my body with the foods it really needs. This is huge for me!
Take the Green Challenge:
Breakfast: Use up leftover green veggies such as asparagus or broccoli in your egg scramble. Just before the eggs are done, throw in a handful of spinach. Hide green ingredients in fruit smoothies. The kids will never know they are getting more nutrient power in their favorite smoothie. Enjoy a serving of fruit such as kiwi, green grapes or green apples. Add cut green apples to your oatmeal.
Lunch: The go-to is a salad, but it’s just as easy to add butter lettuce to your sandwich or a handful of cut up kale to soup. There’s a reason half a sandwich and half a salad is considered a really great lunch!
Snacks: Cut up raw veggies such as cucumber, celery and green peppers. If you prep in advance you will be more likely to choose the healthy items over a cookie. Add a low calorie dip for extra pizazz.
Water: Add slices of cucumber, kiwi, lime and/or fresh herbs for a more refreshing and healthful way to stay hydrated. Being under-hydrated will increase sugar/salt cravings, something I’m striving to avoid.
Dinner: We always have a green vegetable with our dinner. Brussels sprouts, green beans, peas, broccoli, and asparagus are a few of our favorites. I’ve been experimenting with more kale, Swiss chard and pea pods. Give yourself bonus “points” for adding more than one “green” selection. Add more green veggies to your stir-fry, or crowd-out potatoes and rice with a side salad.
Herbs: Dill, basil, thyme, parsley, cilantro, oregano, mint, rosemary….the list goes on and on. Fresh herbs add so much to every dish and pack in a ton of healthful benefits such as aiding digestion, freshening breath, fighting infection, reducing inflammation and improving sleep. Most herbs have high amounts of antioxidants that are known to reduce the risk of heart disease. Spring is a great time to plant herbs for many months of fresh cuttings.
Kids too: If your kids (or your inner big kid) resist trying more green fruits and vegetables, try reading Dr Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. Who doesn’t love the hilarious efforts of Sam-I-Am to encourage the narrator to try green eggs and ham? What the book is really about is the challenge of trying new things. Here’s a link for a family-friendly philosophical discussion about the theme of the book. Try playing a green eggs and ham rhyming game. Broccoli. I will not eat it in a chair, I will not eat it in a ____! Interject different foods and make as silly as possible. Let Sam-I-Am’s silliness inspire you and your children to try more green goodness!