9 Ways to Eat More Greens

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Kelsey Nixon's Mean Green SmoothieYou may have heard that dark leafy greens are incredibly healthy. They are. Leafy greens — such as spinach, kale, collard greens, lettuce, escarole and Swiss chard — are chock-full of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, and have been linked to lower risk of certain cancers and heart disease. You should be eating at least 1 1/2 to 2 cups of dark leafy greens each week (if you’re eating them raw, double that number since leafy greens shrink when cooked). If you’re wondering how to actually meet that goal, this post is for you. Here are some ideas for how I work greens into breakfasts, lunches, dinners and, yes, even snacks! (I draw the line at green desserts, however.)

Breakfast

Green smoothies: This trendy breakfast drink can fill you with a smug sense of health. Just add a couple handfuls of spinach to your smoothie or try one of these recipes.

Mean Green Smoothie (pictured above)

Eggs with greens: The other day I topped a jalapeno cheddar roll with a smear of avocado, a fried egg and little raw kale salad. It made an otherwise decadent breakfast sandwich seem healthy. You can also fold cooked greens into an omelet or scrambled egg.

Lunch

Salad: Salad is an easy choice, but bump up the nutrition by selecting dark leafy greens, such as Romaine, spinach or kale as the base.

Soup: Even if you’re just heating up a canned soup, you can add greens (like baby spinach) to it to bump up the nutrition. Or make one from scratch.

Sandwich: Sneak in an extra dose of leafy greens to your sandwich by layering on the lettuce, spinach, or even cooked kale or other greens leftover from last night’s dinner.

Snacks

Kale chips: If you’re not familiar with these, turn on your oven right now and make them. Just chop up some washed, dried kale, toss it with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and roast in a hot oven until crispy.

Dinner

Side dish: There are so many ways to work greens into dinner. One of the easiest, of course, is to just saute some as a side dish for whatever else you’re having — a bit of garlic, olive oil and a pinch of red pepper flakes are a good start. Or try a new recipe:

Pasta with beans and greens: I like to make a pasta dish with some sort of sauteed greens and chickpeas or cannellini beans for an easy, healthy dinner.

Top homemade pizza with greens: Go free-form or try this recipe  Speck And Mustard Greens Pizza.

Kerri-Ann Jennings, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian who thinks you don’t have to compromise good taste to achieve good health. A former associate nutrition editor of EatingWell Magazine, Kerri-Ann now freelance writes about food, nutrition and health trends and her work has been published on FoodNetwork.com, Yahoo! Shine and the Huffington Post, among others. She also puts her masters degree in nutrition from Columbia University to use teaching classes and counseling individuals on adding healthy behaviors to their daily lives. Find more of her work at kerriannjennings.com or follow her on Twitter @kerriannrd or Facebook.

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