We have all heard this advice to eat more vegetables and I’m sure deep down we know that it is true. The question is, are we actually eating enough veggies? And how many of us are eating greens and weeds?
Most health agencies recommend at least 3-5 servings of vegetables per day. A recent study published by the CDC shows that overall, only 9% of the US population meet the daily recommendations for vegetables.
If you need to increase your vegetable consumption, leafy greens are a good place to start. They are superstars of nutrition and eating 2 cups of leafy greens will help you get your recommended servings. You can definitely manage that!
The following are excellent reasons to include leafy greens in your diet:
- They contain a high amount of Vitamin K. Vitamin K is essential for the blood to clot and for bone strength and density. It’s also rich in flavonoids, compounds that work as antioxidants and cancer-fighters.
- They are rich in Vitamin A. Vitamin A aids in the growth and repair of body tissues and is also essential for the proper function of the immune system.
- They are an excellent source of Vitamin E. As a potent antioxidant, Vitamin E protects the cell membrane of every cell in our body.
Some of my favorite leafy greens are:
- Swiss Chard
- Dandelion Greens
You read that last one right. Dandelions, generally known as weeds, should be eaten! Dandelion greens have more vitamin A than any food except cod liver oil and beef liver. They are also rich in calcium, potassium, vitamin K and fiber. Dandelion aids digestion, decreases inflammation, helps with detoxification and eliminates water retention.
Many grocery stores offer cultivated dandelion greens during the spring, or you can grow and harvest your own. Every year I get so excited as my garden begins to come back to life after a long winter. The very first greens to start popping out of the dirt are my dandelions. Some people would quickly get out the shovel and dig then out or spray on the pesticides. Not me! I love watching the dandelions grow. I harvest them for salads, toss some leaves into my morning smoothie or layer them on a lettuce wrap sandwich. My son uses them to feed Smaug, his bearded dragon. If we can’t keep up with their production, I wash them, let them dry, bag them and freeze them for future smoothies.
Green leafy veggies offer you a load of nutrition and if you’re looking to save a buck or two, now is the time to check your garden and flower beds for some fresh dandelion greens. Just be certain that your dandelions do not come in contact with any fertilizers or pesticides and are away from any exhaust fumes.
This salad is packed with greens and will help you bid farewell to winter and welcome spring with open arms. With the combo of nutrient-dense leafy greens and a sweet and tangy dressing, your taste buds will have a party.
Serves: 4 servings
- 4 cups fresh greens (my fave is a mix of kale leaves, spinach and dandelion
- 1 pink grapefruit
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- 1 avocado
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp raw honey
- ¼ tsp thyme
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Wash, dry and finely shred your selection of greens. If using kale, be sure to cut out the center stem and discard.
- Cut the grapefruit in half and remove sections.
- Lightly toast pine nuts over medium heat in a frying pan until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Slice avocado flesh into chunks and scoop out of the skin.
- Put all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy.
- Dress the salad with ¼-1/2 cup of the dressing.