By Christal Sczebel, Nutritionist in the Kitch
I’m a Nutritionist, so that means I eat perfectly all the time right? Wrong. I certainly do not. First of all, perfection doesn’t exist, and secondly, I’m human! While I would love to say my eating is always stellar, it isn’t and I too struggle with the busyness of life and making sure I dot my i’s and cross my t’s when it comes to my nutrition each day. My brain may be bursting with knowledge about nutrition but putting it all into practice on a consistent basis, therein lies the struggle!
If I had to break it down, I would admit that getting in my veggies is THE challenge of all challenge. I’m mindful of my protein, choose whole grains, skip the refined sugar (most of the time), and drink ample amounts of water but getting those greens in, it requires intention!
When Gorgo’s Editor presented me with this topic, I had to chuckle to myself. She mentioned that her clients’ #1 struggle is not getting enough vegetables and as I read her email, I nodded to myself “me too, me too”.
So, I decided to challenge myself over the last few weeks to really focus on upping the vegetable intake and at the same time establish some easy and efficient ways to load up on the greens that I could share with you wonderful Gorgo girls! My goal was to incorporate 2 cups of vegetables at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, another 1 cup as part of a snack, for a total of 7 cups! This is also what I try to recommend to my clients with the exception of breakfast. However at that meal, a greens powder is a great way to sneak in the greens!
I’d like to share with you a few of the greatest greens and how to sneak them into your diet without loads of effort or time needed!
This vegetable packs a healthy punch! It’s a great source of the antioxidant Vitamin E (hello beautiful skin), iron (incredibly important for active women), and glutathione, a plant chemical that has anti-inflammatory properties. Asparagus is great for those with joint pain or inflammatory disorders. Even around that-time-of-the-month asparagus will help with cramps and water retention. It is also rich in soluble fiber that acts as a prebiotic in the gut to help support digestion.
To get this green in the diet in a relatively easy way I recommend bringing a large pot of water to a boil, tossing in a few large bunches of asparagus (ends removed) for 2-3 minutes then rinsing under cold water to blanch, this seals in the nutrients and keeps them crispy because nobody likes soggy asparagus. Then portion into ziplock bags, toss in the fridge and add as a side to meals throughout the week!
This vegetable is a cancer combater! It contains a variety of nutrients (flavanoids, indoles, and sulphoraphane) that protect against all types of cancer. The plant chemicals found in broccoli act as detoxifiers, helping bring down the “bad” blood cholesterol levels, and provide a boost to the immune system, which is great especially in the winter months.
Sometimes eating raw broccoli can lead to gas and bloating so I love to hide this veggie in a simple protein rich broccomole dip. Yes, you read that right, a dip! Lightly cooked broccoli blended with silken tofu, spices onion, and spinach (another great green) this is an easy way to up the veggie ante. The full recipe for my Canteen Inspired “Broccomole Dip” is included in this issue!
Leafy Greens (Spinach, Kale, and Chard)
These leafy greens are loaded with nutrients that protect against cancer, help maintain artery health and prevent heart disease, and help keep eyes healthy! Spinach is particularly rich in Vitamin K, which helps keep bones strong and prevents osteoporosis.
I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise but adding these greens to a smoothie is quick, easy, and sneaky. Blended with sweet fruits, protein powder, and other healthy additions the greens become almost undetectable to the taste but the nutrition is all there.
Another way I like to incorporate greens like Kale, Chard, or Spinach is to chop them up into smaller bits and add to soups, stews, chilis, stovetop saute’s, stir fry’s, and pasta sauces. The beauty of these veggies is that they lose volume but not nutrition when wilted and it’s easy to add cups and cups of these greens to a dish without overpowering it!
As I mentioned earlier, a good quality greens powder is also an easy way to up the intake! I’ve used several brands in the past including Genuine Health and North Coast Naturals, and other brands to try include Isagenix and Progressive. While I don’t recommend using greens powder to completely replace whole vegetable intake, it’s definitely an easy way to up the greens first thing when you start the day or when you feel your day is generally lacking!
Check out the Meal Plan below for this issue to see how I’ve taken these suggestions and incorporated them into a day so green it would be worthy of the Emerald City (for all you fellow Wizard of Oz fans).
When it comes to getting those veggies in, I know, the struggle is real, but Gorgo girls I promise you, it can be done with intention and a few tricks here and there. While tracking macronutrients has popularity amongst active women, the impact of greens on micronutrient intake will help keep you energized for daily life and the gym, keep your digestive system and liver squeaky clean, and keep that skin of yours glowing!