We’ve been told since our early days to “eat your veggies”. And with good reason. These foods provide us with the nourishments
our bodies crave. But of the many varieties of vegetables available, none are more power-packed with nutrition than green leafy vegetables.
To obtain the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals from these foods, they should be eaten raw. But they are common in many stir-fries
and baked recipes also. If you have a juicer, include 1 or 2 green leafy vegetables with each drink. Mix them up, your body loves
variety. And to capture all of the fiber these foods are so rich in, you can create smoothies in your high-speed blender, adding water
and your favourite fruits, honey, etc. Fiber promotes good digestive health and regularity.
Most green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins A, some B’s, C and K. Vitamin K plays a critical role in blood clotting. It regulates
blood calcium levels and activates proteins involved in bone health.
I’ve compiled a list of some of the “best of the best” of these foods, along with a few tidbits on each.
Most will agree that kale is at the top of the list. Along with being rich in calcium, folate and potassium, it also is said to lower blood
cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. I add kale to my juice and/or smoothie most mornings.
Here is a healthy snack my family really enjoys:
3 teaspoons coconut oil
¼ teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (or salt of your choice)
1 garlic clove (or more) minced
a few handfuls of kale, stems removed and chopped
Preheat oven to 425°. Place a large pan in oven for 5 minutes.
Combine ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Place mixture on hot pan and spread out.
Bake at 425° for 7 minutes.
Stir kale and bake an additional 5 minutes or until edges of leaves are crisp and kale is tender.
Place kale in a large bowl. Optionally drizzle with vinegar dressing of your choice.
Toss and serve immediately.
Watercress is grown in natural spring waters and its deep green leaves are one of the strongest-tasting salad leaves available. Both the leaves
and stems are edible. It can be combined with potatoes in a soup, chopped and added to pasta sauce, used in omelettes or as a garnish for cooked
foods. Watercress contains a very high level of dietary nitrate. High intakes of dietary nitrate have been shown to lower blood pressure.
Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like watercress decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease while
promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy and overall lower weight.
Swiss chard is another one of these superfoods, and it too is mentioned at the top of many food lists. It is in the same family as beets and spinach,
and has a taste similar to both, though perhaps somewhat bitter. The health benefits of Swiss chard include the ability to regulate blood sugar levels,
prevent various types of cancer, improve digestion, boost the immune system, reduce fever and combat inflammation, lower blood pressure, prevent heart disease,
increase bone strength and development, detoxify the body and strengthen the functioning of the brain.
One food well known for its cholesterol-lowering benefits is collard greens. It has large, medium to dark green leaves, prominent veins with a flavour
that’s a bit stronger than spinach. Along with eating raw, you can steam, boil, braise and sauté them. Collard greens provide an enormous amount
of nutrition, and possess little to no calories. They are a huge source of vitamin C along with multiple other nutrients with anticancer properties.
One serving of collard greens contains more than your daily allotment of Vitamin A and K, and is a great source of folate, manganese and calcium.
Made famous by Popeye, spinach is high in niacin and zinc, fiber, thiamin, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese as well
as protein. It’s loaded with vitamins and minerals that are good for every part of your body.
And here’s another recipe I know you’ll enjoy:
¾ cup raw whole milk (or almond milk)
¼ cup water
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1½ tablespoons arrowroot
2 pounds spinach, steamed
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Himalayan pink salt and freshly ground pepper
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, water and garlic. Heat slowly until very hot and steamy. Let stand, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.
This allows the garlic to soften.
Melt coconut oil in another medium saucepan over medium high heat.
Whisk in arrowroot, then add hot milk mixture, whisking until smooth. Stir in spinach and cook until sauce is thick and bubbly and the spinach is
tender but still green, about six minutes.
Stir in cheese and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
Romaine lettuce is the king of all lettuces. Just as with all other dark leafy green veggies, the antioxidants it contains are believed to help prevent cancer.
And due to its high folate content, it may be a good combatant for allergy sufferers. Romaine lettuce is almost always eaten raw and is perhaps most popular in a
Caesar salad. And don't discard the outer leaves, just be sure to wash them thoroughly. Studies show that the outer leaves have the highest phytonutrient
content and antioxidant properties.