With the dawning of a New Year, many people make those all-too-familiar resolutions to work towards as the year moves forward. This year, I encourage you to expand your resolutions to include not just you, but your family as well! Better nutrition is something we all need, and making it a family goal can make it easier for everyone!
A great resolution is to increase the amount of greens your family eats each day. This is a nice goal because it is easy, measurable, and can only make you feel great! Plus, you will be adding a TON of healthful fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals* (see charts at the end) to your diet which can lead to less money spent on expensive nutritional supplements and doctors appointments. Greens include vegetables such as: kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, lettuce (yes, even iceberg!), broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok choy and other asian greens, seaweeds, kelp, spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae....just to name a few!
So, how many greens should each person eat? An easy guideline for adults is a minimum of one head of lettuce (or equivalent in other greens) per day. Each child should eat a minimum of half a head of lettuce, or equivalent, every day. Another easy guideline to follow is to eat a minimum of one pound of cooked vegetables and/or greens and a minimum of one pound of raw vegetables and/or greens every day for each adult. Each child would eat a minimum of half pound of cooked and a minimum of half pound of raw vegetables and/or greens every day.
Here are a few ideas and recipes to help you get started!
1. Salads for breakfast!
Salads are a surprisingly tasty way to start your day. Thoughtfully created, they are very satisfying, filling, and pack quite an energy punch to get you through until lunch. Here are two recipes my family loves:
Pear Breakfast Salad
1/2 to 1 head of lettuce
1-2 Tablespoons flax seeds
1-2 Tablespoons pecans
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
raw goat feta (optional)
In a coffee grinder or blender, blend flax, pecans, and salt to fine powder, and set aside. Finely shred or chop lettuce and place in bowl. Dice pear and place on top of lettuce. Sprinkle with flax mixture and toss to coat lettuce and pear. Add optional feta if you like.
Note: Any lettuce will work. If your child doesn't like the taste of darker lettuce, iceberg lettuce will work just as well. You can also mix darker lettuce and iceberg together and adjust ratios as your child's tastes change.
Israeli Breakfast Salad
1/2 to 1 head of lettuce, or equivalent of other green
2-4 tomatoes, finely diced
1/2-1 medium cucumber, finely diced
1-3 Tablespoons raw tahini
1-3 Tablespoons date paste*, or equivalent of other sweetener
1/2-1 lemon, juiced
raw goat feta (optional)
scrambled egg (optional)
Whisk together tahini, date paste, lemon, and salt until well combined. Add water as necessary to combine well. Set aside. Place lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumber in a bowl. Top with tahini mixture and toss well to coat. Add optional feta and egg if you like.
2. Green Smoothies!
Too busy to chop up veggies for salad in the morning? Blend it instead! Here are some tasty green smoothie combinations:
Melon and lettuce *
Greens, banana, orange
Greens, banana, frozen peach, hemp seeds
Savory Veggies: greens, tomatoes, celery, red pepper, cucumber, carrot, lemon juice, and garlic
Note: Lettuce is the ONLY green that should be combined with melons. This will prevent tummy aches as melons should generally be eaten alone and 20 minutes between other foods.
3. Lunch/Dinner Salads
Any green paired with any bean and any grain, PLUS raw veggies. Here are some tasty combinations:
Mexican Salad- greens, cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, red onion, whole pinto beans or black beans, and quinoa. Toss with Mexican spices such as cumin, chili powder, etc.
Greek Salad- greens, parsley, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, kalamata olives, garbanzo beans and quinoa or cracked wheat. Toss with mixture of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Asian Salad- cabbage or other green, red pepper, shredded carrot, celery, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and arame or wakame seaweed. Toss with mixture of date paste*, tamari, ginger, and garlic.
Note: To make date paste, soak 1/2-1 cup dates in your blender with about 1-2 cups water. Let soak for aprox. 30 min. Blend until smooth. This can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for 2 weeks!
4. Two "Must Haves" for Every Dinner
To any dinner you are making, add a side dish of 1 cooked green and 1 raw veggie salad.
5. Some Other Ways to Add Greens:
In sauces- any green can be mixed into sauces such as spaghetti sauce, and add a real nutritional punch!
In beans- some favorites are black eyed peas and collards, and adzuki and kale.
In soups- any green can be mixed into any soup without tasting the flavor. Plus it adds nice color!
In grains- some favorites are quinoa and spinach, and brown rice or barley with spinach.
Sprinkle seaweeds or kelp over any salad, or soup, or on any sandwich (you don't even notice kelp with sprinkled on a nut butter sandwich, or a sandwich with hummus or avocado!)
In Desserts! Yes, even desserts can be given extra nutrition without changing the flavor! Here are a few recipes:
Raw Chocolate Mouse
cup soaked dates
cup coconut syrup, or equivalent favorite sweetener
teaspoon vanilla extract, or other extract of choice (try mint...yum!)
cup plus 2 Tablespoons cacao or carob powder
1/2 to 1 cup spinach
Place dates, sweetener, and vanilla in food processor and process to smooth. Add avocado, cacao powder, and spinach and process again. Add water and process briefly.
**Can be frozen and made into ice cream or fudgescicles! **
Raw Berry Ice Cream
3 frozen bananas*
1 bag frozen strawberries
1/2-1 head lettuce
2 cups almond milk*, or other milk of choice
1-2 cups water
Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Either place mixture in ice cream maker, or freeze in a shallow dish. If placing in a dish, freeze for aprox. 30 min. and check to see if mix is ready. If not ready, check every 10 min. until thickness is that of ice cream. It usually takes no more than 1 hour.
Note 1: To freeze bananas, peel fresh bananas and cut into pieces. Place on plate or in plastic bag and freeze aprox. 3 hours.
Note 2: Almond Milk
1 cup almonds, soaked overnight
3 cups water
splash coconut syrup, date paste, or other sweetener (optional)
pinch sea salt (optional)
Blend almonds in water until smooth. Strain using a dishcloth or nut milk bag. Place back in blender and add optional ingredients if desired. Store in covered container in refrigerator for 2-3 days. Left over "pulp" can be saved to make cookies, or dehydrated to make almond flour.
Pyramid is from Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD