Get Your Leafy Greens On!

Easy Ways to Eat More Greens!

If you are a veggie lover, read on. If vegetables are NOT your favorite, well then you should read on too!

Leafy greens for nutrition, health and weight loss

Whether you love or hate them, greens are a must when it comes to our health. Leafy greens have many benefits to boast, and there are countless numbers of ways they can be eaten. If you struggle to get your greens in, the ideas below might be a game changer for you.  Including more leafy greens in your diet, may even make your brain younger!

Leafy Greens 101

So what constitutes a leafy green anyway? Examples of these green bunches of goodness include:

  • Salad Greens – leaf lettuce, Romaine, spinach, mesclun, arugula, watercress, iceberg
  • Cooking Greens – Swiss chard, kale, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens

Benefits of Leafy Greens

Greens have many health benefits. The darker the green, the richer the nutrient value. Benefits include hearty amount of vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as high doses of antioxidants – touting them as one of the best cancer-preventing foods. According to the USDA, vitamin K in dark leafy greens helps protect bones from osteoporosis and prevent inflammatory diseases in the body. Additionally, adding greens to your diet increases fiber intake, which helps to keep the GI tract healthy. Including more leafy greens in your diet, will benefit you in many ways, but did you know they may even help prevent dementia and cancer!  Salad anyone?

Ways to Eat Leafy Greens

Spring is finally here, and it’s probably safe to say that all of us will be thinking about sunshine and the great outdoors. For some that may mean outdoor farmers’ markets and at-home gardening. What better to plant or buy fresh at market than fresh, crisp greens? Keep reading to find simple ways to add greens to each meal of the day.

Breakfast Ideas

  • Fold greens into your eggs
  • Blend greens into your favorite smoothie

Lunch Ideas

  • Dice greens up and toss into your tacos or burrito
  • Stir greens into the broth of your favorite soup
  • Use greens as a wrap or ‘bread’

Dinner Ideas

  • Sauté greens into your pasta sauce
  • Toss greens into pasta as it finishes cooking

The benefits of leafy greens are numerous, and the ways to incorporate them into your day are endless. So get out there and get your greens on!


Recipes to boost greens!

Apple Kale Smoothie
Yields: 1 smoothie

Ingredients:
¾ cup kale, chopped with thick stems removed
1 small celery stalk, chopped
½ banana
1 small green apple, cored
¾ cup milk of choice
½ cup ice

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.


Napa Wraps
Yields: 6 servings

Sauce:
¼ cup brown sugar                                 12 Napa cabbage leaves                         3 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce                  1 cup red bell pepper, sliced                  3 Tbsp. basil, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced                           1 Tbsp. ginger, minced                           1 ½ Tbsp. lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced                             3 oz. dry cellophane noodles, prepared
1 ½ lb. cleaned and cooked shrimp
Directions:

  1. In a small dish, mix the 3 sauce ingredients and set aside.
  2. Lay Napa cabbage leaves in a large shallow dish. Add enough boiling water to cover leaves, and allow to soften/steam. Remove and pat dry with clean towel.
  3. In a small skillet, on medium-high heat, sauté peppers, ginger, garlic, cilantro, basil and lime juice. Cook until peppers are soft. Remove from heat.
  4. To assemble wraps, place cabbage leaves on flat surface, top with 1/6 of vegetable mixture, 1/6 of noodles, and 3-4 shrimp. Fold leaves into the center and dip into sauce. Enjoy!

 

For more recipes like these, visit the Nutrition and Wellness Center at UAC or our Facebook page.

Benefits of “Real Food” Weight Loss Plans

At some point or another, many of us have struggled to lose weight. The biggest roadblock to weight loss is the desire to look slimmer, quickly. From fad diets to quick fixes in a pill, dieting in the United States is a $64 billion industry according to a study done by Marketdata Enterprises. So, today we are telling you to disregard those pricey dietary supplements and processed frozen meals. Losing weight by consuming “real food” provides the strongest long-term benefits to a healthier lifestyle.

What do we mean by “real” food? Real food is found in it’s most natural form with little to no added preservatives or sugars. Yes, this means cooking from scratch and not being dependent on processed foods or frozen meals. For example, eating an orange versus an orange-flavored ice pop that claims to be “with real fruit”.

Consuming food in its natural form is what our body needs to get the proper nutritional benefits. At Universal, our nutrition experts have compiled a list of benefits to real food for people looking to lose weight.

1. Making Real Food Consumption A Lifestyle

The road to weight loss should not include a diet consisting of over-the-counter supplements, a ’30 day liquid cleanse’ or even as far as restricting your food intake. The latest trendy diet may promise to deliver short-term weight loss, but is the weight going to stay off in the long run? What happens when you reach your goal, and you still don’t know how to keep the weight off? Sure, you can purchase prepackaged foods and shakes for as long as your wallet allows. However, a real food weight loss program is designed to promote lifelong eating habits and can be followed over the long term.

real-food-chart

2. Real Food Is Already Accessible to You

You can’t guarantee the latest fad diet or cleanse will always be available to you in a store or for cheap. Fad Diets often include fronting more money than regular grocery shopping and although they may provide short-term results, it is much harder to keep off that quick-loss weight once concluding a fad diet.

As an alternative, you can always venture a mile or two down the road and find somewhere to grab real food to eat; your local grocery store! Whether it’s a local produce stand, organic fruits and veggies, lean meats or seafood; getting into the habit of purchasing clean and non-processed foods is quite easy to do.

3. Real Food Is Family Friendly & Fun To Experiment With

Losing weight on a plan involving food from all the food groups is also family friendly, think back to the classic food pyramid. You can serve the same food you are eating to everyone in the household by modifying as needed to satisfy different taste buds. So ditch that frozen pizza or bag of fries! Slice up your own sweet potato fries or be fun with your meals. For example, have your family try a ‘build your own’ pizza bar; substitute portobello mushrooms for dough or even try mini zucchini pizzas.

4. Hold Real Foods Accountable to Your Social Calendar

Weight loss plans with real food also make it tricky to stay on plan when your social calendar is calling your name. Going to parties or out to eat can get tough. You may not always have the healthiest options available to you. So it’s important to stick to your plan and not fold. For example, grab a burger with no bun, choose the fruit or veggie platters over those bowls of chips and pretzels. Let’s face it, the latest diet trends are not going to be served up at the next work outing or summer barbecue, which is why real food consumption is actually an easy alternative.

So if you are thinking of taking the plunge to shed some extra pounds, start by hitting your local grocery store or market and shop healthy. Select real food for real eating.

For personalized questions or assistance from Heather or anyone on The Nutrition & Wellness Center’s team at Universal, email [email protected] or call 717-569-4754,