Add Healthy Greens to Any Meal

bunch of fresh rainbow chard

By Mia James

Food fads come and go, but greens are likely here stay. This is decidedly a good thing—these leafy vegetables are packed with nutrients that boost our health and may help protect us from disease. And with the growing popularity of greens, chefs, cookbook authors, and inventive home cooks are coming up with increasingly delicious ways to add them our plates.

According to (developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture), an adult woman should include from 2 to 2 ½ cups of vegetables per day in her diet (more if you’re physically active). Greens can make up a healthful portion of our daily veggie servings. Even better, these leafy plants are particularly well suited additions to a range of recipes, sneaking in a stealthy blast of nutrition to your favorite dishes.[1]

Here are some fun, flavorful ways to add leafy vegetables to your meals. And don’t stop here—experiment with a hint green in your own recipes. Try kale, chard, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens—in other words, anything in season or readily available that piques your interest.

  • Mashed potatoes and greens. Mashed potatoes, however you like them (perhaps creamy or loaded with garlic), are perfect vehicles for greens. Kale is a tried-and-true green addition, but you may want to experiment with another variety. Simply prepare your favorite mashed potato recipe and add blanched kale plus some chopped green onion and any other flavoring you may like.
  • Soup. Soups are a great opportunity to add greens to your day. If you’re making soup from scratch, you can incorporate a green (or greens) of choice into your recipe. You can also add greens to prepared soup. Simply blanch or lightly sauté a small handful and toss them into your bowl. Try adding the greens to soups containing white beans, lentils, chicken, pasta, other veggies, or any bowl that beckons.
  • Stir-fries and sautés. Any time you’re cooking with a wok or a skillet, you can grab a chopped, washed handful of your favorite greens and add it to the dish. Or more-dense vegetables, so add your spinach, collards, and the like toward the end of the process.
  • Eggs. Egg scrambles and omelets are among the easiest and tastiest meals in which to include greens. Add them during the final minutes a scramble is cooking or as part of your favorite omelet fillings.
  • Kale Chips. Baked kale leaves are a surprising delicious alternative to popcorn, potato chips, and other less nutritious snacks. They’re incredibly simple: just bake dry kale leaves in the oven at 350° and add salt and favorite spices (try lemon pepper or crispy garlic). And if you must have your popcorn, try spicing it up by adding kale chips.




[1] How Many Vegetables Are Needed Daily or Weekly? website. Available at: Accessed December 19, 2014.