One of the very best ways to boost your health with a great whole food is by adding dark, leafy green vegetables to your daily diet. Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, and lettuces are a few of the healthiest, most nutrient packed, and delicious choices. Most leafy greens have an abundance of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients: Vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, potassium, magnesium iron, folate, beta carotene, and lutein. An excellent carbohydrate and fiber source; greens digest slowly, which helps maintain optimum blood sugar levels.
You can safely say dark leafy greens efficiently support your digestive tract, including colon and liver, your heart and cardiovascular system, your blood sugar and adrenal stress levels, your eyes, brain, immune system, joints, bones, and more.
Adding these greens to your diet doesn’t just mean eating spinach salads every day, or sauteing kale with your protein or grain for dinner. That can be a tad bland and boring. It’s about figuring out other creative ways to include greens in your meals – like adding them to soups, smoothies, or blending into a tasty and original pesto. I made this next soup twice during our last fall detox.
Red Chard and White Bean Soup (Serves 6)
- 2 cups dried white beans (or one 15 ounce can of white beans)
- 2 Bunches of Red Swiss Chard, cleaned and de-stemmed (don’t throw away the stems, chop them up for use in the soup)
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
In a dutch oven or other large pot, saute the onions, red chard stems together in the EVOO for 10 minutes, until translucent. *
Add the garlic and thyme, cook for another 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the soup stock, beans, and chopped red chard leaves, and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve.
*Meat it up: add 4 pieces of chopped turkey bacon to the first step (hormone and antibiotic free).
Pasta with Kale Pesto and Butternut Squash (serves 6)
- 1 1/2 pounds butternut and delicata squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small bunches (about 3/4 pound) lacinato/dinosaur kale, cleaned and de-stemmed
- 12 ounces brown rice pasta
- 1/3 cup toasted walnuts (or pine nuts or sesame seeds)
- 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss squash in 1 TBSP of the oil. Roast, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. At the same time, bring a large pot of water to a boil; have ready a bowl of ice water. Drop kale into boiling water and cook for 45 seconds. Use tongs or slotted spoon to transfer kale to ice water. Bring water in pot back to a boil, adding more if necessary so there is enough to cook pasta.
Drain kale well, then wrap tightly in a dry kitchen towel and squeeze thoroughly to remove any excess moisture. Roughly chop leaves. When water in pot comes back to a boil, cook pasta according to package directions. In a food processor, pulse together kale, nuts, garlic, salt, lemon and lemon zest until mixture is smooth. With processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until fully incorporated. Drain pasta, reserving a little bit of cooking water. Toss pasta with kale pesto. Serve topped with squash.
Quick Kale Snacks (serves 2)
- One or more bunch of Lacinato/Dinosaur Kale: cleaned, de-stemmed and cut into strips
- Either a mixture of extra virgin olive oil and organic apple cider vinegar (1 tsp each)or organic coconut oil and lemon juice (1 tsp each)
Preheat Oven 350 degrees. Toss kale with either mixture; lay on a parchment paper lined pan. Heat for 20 minutes, turned after 10. Serve.
Fruits and Veggies Smoothie (serves 2)
- 1/2 cup frozen/fresh raspberries/strawberries/blueberries or a mixture
- 2 cups spinach or kale, washed and de-stemmed
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 TBSP Omega 3’s
Mix together well and serve