Friday Fun Fitness Tips aren’t just about exercise, even though that’s what we most often think about when we hear the word fitness. Fitness is defined as the condition of being physically fit or healthy, and it takes more than just exercise to get there. This week’s fitness tip is to eat your dark leafy greens.
Leafy Greens are Important
There are very few things that can be said about food that are universally true for everyone. It seems you can’t check the news anymore without at least one report about a new food that is good for you or one that has been linked to some sort of deadly disease. Leafy greens, however, are definitively good for you. It’s recommended to eat at least 1 cup of dark leafy greens every single day.
I’m a big advocate for eating a variety of leafy greens. In my fridge right now is a spring mix, cabbage, kale, and collards. They are a superfood and can be delicious when prepared properly. If you think you don’t like all leafy greens as an entire category, I hope you’ll consider trying them in a few new ways to see if you can change your mind and find even one or two that you love.
What Are Dark Leafy Greens?
Although it may seem a bit obvious, these are vegetables that are both green and leafy. This does not include green veggies like cucumber, green pepper or zucchini. A list of green leafy vegetables does include:
- arugula (aka rocket)
- beet greens
- bok choy
- lettuce (romaine and other dark green varieties – avoid iceberg)
- and many more leafy greens!
How Do You Eat Leafy Greens Anyway?
Dark leafy greens can be eaten raw or cooked. Aim for a variety of different kinds of greens as well as different ways of preparing them. This will help you figure out what leafy greens you like and what you don’t, as well as being better for you nutritionally. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Have a salad as a meal or as a side-dish every day. Choose a variety of leafy greens – a spring mix topped with strawberries and feta with a balsamic vinaigrette, coleslaw, or a spinach salad are all great choices.
- Drink a green smoothie for breakfast or as an afternoon snack. Not sure you’ll like greens in a smoothie? Add a very small handful of leafy greens to start and then work up to as much as 2 cups per serving.
- Add greens to things you are already eating. Add bok choy or other Chinese leafy greens to a stir-fry; chop kale or collards and add a few handfuls to soup; place a few handfuls of baby spinach in the bottom of a colander and pour pasta and it’s cooking water over top to wilt then mix the spinach into the pasta along with the sauce.
No matter how you eat them, find ways to enjoy leafy greens regularly. Start slowly – if you aren’t eating any leafy greens now, commit to having them twice a week and then add in more from there. The goal here is to build a habit that you enjoy.
Some of My Favorite Leafy Greens Recipes
Not sure where to start? Here are a few of my favorite recipes featuring dark leafy greens:
- Green Smoothie
- Kale and Chickpea Salad with Avocado, Tomatoes and Peppers
- Caldo Verde: A Portuguese Soup
How are you going to add more leafy greens into your diet this week?
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