Getting your vegetables in your everyday diet can be tough, especially if you are constantly on-the-go. Regardless of what diet you follow, it is important to incorporate as many green vegetables as you can to support your overall health. These power-packed foods provide a great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber to your diet, which are essential for your functioning body.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is recommended that depending on your age, sex and level of physical activity you partake in, the average person should intake one to three cups of vegetables a day. Organized into five subgroups—dark-green, starchy, red and orange, beans and peas, and other—your diet should consist of a variety of all five types throughout the week. The vegetables with a deeper pigmentation tend to have a higher level of vitamins and minerals, so the darker, the better. Primary sources of these deep greens include kale, arugula, collards, romaine lettuce, broccoli and leafy herbs such as parsley, mint, sage and thyme.
Contrary to popular belief, eating veggies doesn’t have to be boring and bland. Woodbury’s Nekter Juice Bar is just one local spot offering tasty green alternatives; opening up shop in 2018 in Woodbury, this California-based juice bar promotes a vibrant and accessible healthy lifestyle for all.
“It can be a challenge for people to eat healthy, especially on-the-go,” franchise owner and operator of Nekter in Woodbury Kris Willy says. “I wanted to bring [Nekter] to Minnesota as a green, healthy alternative.”
In an effort to bring affordable and fast nutritious options to the suburban community, Nekter is a place that focuses on optimizing your overall health and wellness through essential vitamins and nutrients. Providing six superfruit smoothies, fresh made juices, cold press cleanses and handcrafted acai bowls, Nekter is your on-the-go source for your nutrients that truly taste good.
With no refined sugars (preservatives, syrups, additives and fillers) and containing up to three pounds of fresh fruits and veggies in each juice alone, Nekter’s products are a great source of essential minerals, vitamins and living enzymes to fuel your body.
Green juices and superfood smoothies work to improve more than just cravings:
- Easiest way to get your daily nutrient dose.
- Improves your body’s natural digestive efficiencies.
- Boosts your immunity with antioxidants.
- Increases energy.
- Gets your glow on and increases radiant hair, skin and nail growth from the inside out.
Incorporating green produce (that isn’t just a salad!) into your everyday diet has plentiful health benefits; check out these recipe ideas inspired by Food Network and Real Housemoms blog to freshen up your meals.
Smoothies and Soups
Mask the rich taste of deep greens like kale and spinach in a vibrant smoothie. The sweet taste of fruits like mango, strawberries, bananas and pineapple can easily disguise what is in the smoothie, making it an efficient and delicious way to gain a serving of nutrients.
Incorporate vegetables like peas, zucchini, broccoli and kale in a variety of soups such as split pea, garden vegetable, minestrone or vegan chili. foodnetwork.com
Transform this average side into a garlic, broccoli cheddar mash that is not only delicious, but also more nutritious. Start by finely chopping (by hand or in a food processor) about a cup of steamed broccoli and then thoroughly fold it into the smooth, garlic-infused potatoes. For an added flare, sprinkle in and garnish with freshly grated cheddar cheese.
If broccoli isn’t your forte, add a flavorful punch to your mashed potatoes with chives, parsley and garlic or add rosemary and thyme for a bold spin on a country-time favorite. realhousemoms.com
Add more to your “za,” beyond the classic marinara, mozzarella and pepperoni. Start with a basic roll-out or pre-made crust, or opt for a low-carb cauliflower crust for an additional health boost, then add your green toppings accordingly. foodnetwork.com
Salad Pizza: Arugula, fresh basil (sliced or whole leaves), halved cherry tomatoes, olive oil drizzle, salt and pepper to taste.
Verde Pizza: Puree 1/4 cup each of pistachios, basil, parsley and scallions with 1 cup of arugula, two garlic cloves, 1/2 cup of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread mixture on top of crust and sprinkle with grated or shredded Parmesan and more arugula for garnish.
Prosciutto Pizza: Arugula, prosciutto, fresh-grated Parmesan, balsamic vinegar and olive oil drizzle.
Mixed Vegetable: Spread a thin layer of marinara and sprinkle with Parmesan, mozzarella and Asiago cheeses. Layer with veggies of your choice from spinach, broccolini, thinly sliced zucchini, bell pepper, onion, black olives and mushrooms.
Serves four; foodnetwork.com
- Four large eggs
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 2 Tbsp. salted butter
- 1 small finely chopped onion
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
Preheat the oven to broil. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper until smooth. Fold in Swiss cheese and halved grape tomatoes; melt butter and add to a nine-inch nonstick pan. Add onions and sauté until softened (about five minutes); add spinach and cook until wilted (about two minutes); pour egg mixture into the pan and cook two to four minutes. Transfer the pan into the oven and broil until golden brown.
Kale and Pistachio Pesto
Serves four; foodnetwork.com
- 1 lb. kale
- 10 oz. whole wheat spaghetti (or noodle of your choice)
- 2 Tbsp. roasted, salted pistachios
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. fresh-grated Parmesan
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice and lemon wedges for garnish
- Fresh-ground black pepper
- Optional: cherry tomatoes for added color and taste
Boil a large pot of salted water; fill a large bowl with ice water. Add kale to the boiling water, stir until leaves are slightly wilted (about two minutes). Transfer kale to ice water, continue boiling the water; once cooled, drain the water and dry the kale as much as possible; coarsely chop kale. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook al dente. While cooking the pasta, pulse pistachios, garlic, kale and parsley until finely chopped; while pulsing, add oil in a steady stream; add Parmesan, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Drain the pasta and reserve ½ cup of pasta water. Combine the pesto mix with pasta, along with a few spoonfuls of pasta water. Add salt and pepper to taste; serve with lemon wedges.
The benefits of eating leafy greens
- Weight management: These foods are lower in calories so you can eat more without gaining more weight.
- Essential vitamins: Leafy greens contain vitamins K and B, magnesium, calcium and other essential nutrients for general cell function.
- Leafy greens help to combat diseases like cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
- Leafy greens improve bone health and strengthen the eyes.