Tips for getting even the pickiest eaters all the vitamins and nutrients needed to optimize health and prevent disease.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Greens 101

Just about every smoothie I make (except a couple) has dark, green leafy vegetables.  There are many varieties and types of greens.  Each type offers a variety of vitamins and minerals.  These leafy vegetables are just loaded with vitamins and minerals.  Some of the highest, nutrient dense foods that exist are dark leafy, green vegetables. 
I knew somewhat of the health benefits of eating green leafy vegetables but to the extent of the benefits I was clueless.  As I began researching how to get my children the necessary daily vitamins and minerals, dark green, leafy vegetables kept coming up.   I found that for just about every vitamin and mineral I was trying to supplement into our diets, green leafy vegetables were considered the best source for it.  I didn’t really have experience with all the leafy green vegetables available to us.  I knew there was lettuce and spinach and that was it.  

Some of the Dark Green, Leafy Vegetable Sources

Arugula has a peppery taste and is rich in vitamins A, C, and calcium.   This found in salad mixes. 

   Beet Greens are often overlooked and thrown away but that’s a big mistake.  Their leaves are perfect for vegetable smoothies.  The leaves aren’t bitter but sweet.  Beet greens are high in iron, calcium, and vitamin C.

Broccoli has both soft florets and crunchy stalks, and is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and fiber.  These can be found in Asian markets.  Although very healthy, broccoli leaves and stalks are very bitter and should be used in small amounts. 

 Chard has many varieties to choose: red chard, green chard, swiss chard, rainbow chard, yellow chard. Chard’s leaves have a sweet flavor especially as the growing season comes to an end.  Chard is very high in vitamins A and C.   Chard is a staple in any vegetable smoothie recipe.  This green compliments and adds to the sweetness of the fruit.

Collard Greens have a mild flavor and are packed with nutrition.  Collard greens are rich in vitamins A, lots of B vitamins like folate, vitamin C and K, fiber, and calcium. These greens can be added to smoothies without affecting the taste. 

Dandelion Greens have a bitter, tangy flavor and are rich in vitamin A and calcium.  Use these in very small amounts.  These are found in grocery stores and everywhere in your yard, off to the side of the road, etc. 

     Kale has a slightly bitter, cabbage-like flavor and is rich in vitamins A, C and K, and very high in fiber.  Kale is one of the highest nutrient dense foods available to us. Kale has many varieties: black (lacinato), curly (dinosaur), Red Russian, Italian, and flowering kale.  

Mustard Greens have a peppery or spicy flavor and are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, folate, and calcium. Use these in small amounts. 

Romaine Lettuce is a nutrient rich lettuce that is high is vitamins A, C, and K, and folate.

Spinach has a sweet flavor and is rich in vitamins A and K, folate, and iron. Spinach is so easy to throw into any smoothie.  It’s easy to find and very inexpensive. 

Swiss Chard tastes similar to spinach and is rich in vitamins A, C, and K, potassium and iron.

Watercress grows wild along river banks and other watery areas.  Like most other wild plants, watercress is a nutrient dense food; very high in vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C, and several B vitamins.  It has a slight spicy and peppery taste so use small amounts in any vegetable smoothie recipe.