5 Ways to Get More Greens Without Eating a Salad

sauteed spinach and garlic

If there is one thing you can do to enhance your diet, it’s adding in more green vegetables. These power foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Regardless of what diet you follow—vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, or paleo, adding more green vegetables can support you in improving your overall health.   

According to Harvard’s School of Public Health, eating vegetables can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Additionally, eating veggies over higher-calorie foods can help manage body weight.

The U.S. government guidelines’ recommended intake for vegetables per day is 2 to 2.5 cups for women and 3 to 3.5 cups for men. In a 2013 report by the CDC, data showed that 87 percent of Americans did not meet the recommended daily vegetable intake from 2007 to 2010.

The good news is that you can enjoy a wide variety of vegetables to hit your daily intake. Keep in mind that each vegetable has its own unique makeup of vitamins and minerals, so it is important to rotate through different types of vegetables to get all of the nutrients that your body needs.

While there are plenty of green vegetables to choose from, here are some of the more nutrient-dense options for you to try:

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Collard greens
  • Mixed greens
  • Baby greens
  • Arugula
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Zucchini
  • Mustard greens
  • Dandelion greens

Remember to focus on consuming darker green leafy vegetables like spinach, mixed greens, and arugula, instead of vegetables like iceberg and romaine lettuce, because they have more vitamins and minerals.

If you are tired of always eating salads to get your vegetables in, here are five new ways for you to incorporate more vegetables into your diet.

1. Sautéed Greens

This simple and quick technique is a great way to cook your greens. Some greens that are good for sautéing are:

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Bok choy
  • Spinach
  • Green beans
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Snap peas

Follow these five easy steps to prepare your favorite greens:

  • Chop your green vegetables into small, bite-sized pieces.
  • Bring a large pan to medium heat. Melt 1-2 tablespoons of coconut oil, ghee, or olive oil. 
  • Add chopped onions or minced garlic to the pan and stir for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add your green vegetables, and sauté until wilted or soft. Note: Cooking time will vary depending on the type of green you choose. Make sure not to over-cook your green vegetables to keep the flavor fresh. Think about leaving a little crunch for texture.
  • Remove from pan and season with 1 teaspoon of sea salt and any other spices of your choice, like lemon juice, to balance out the flavors.

2. Protein Smoothies and Green Juice

A smoothie is a great way to pack in a lot of nutrients in one place. Add one to two handfuls of green vegetables to your morning or afternoon protein smoothie. Some common greens that you can add to your smoothie are:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Swiss chard

If you get adventurous, add celery or cucumber to your smoothie as well. If you have never added greens to a smoothie, spinach is a nice place to start because it has a mild flavor.

Green juice is another way to reap the benefits of vitamins and minerals found in green vegetables. Note that juicing does not provide the same fiber benefits as smoothies or eating your greens. Some green juices also tend to be very high in sugar because of the other fruits or vegetables that are added.

Juicing lends itself to many different green vegetables, including:

  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Cucumbers
  • Dandelion greens
  • Beet greens

3. Green Vegetables with Eggs

Whether you are making a simple egg scramble or an egg frittata, consider adding a few handfuls of green vegetables to the mix. Some green vegetables that mix really nicely with eggs are:

  • Spinach
  • Swiss chard
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus

4. Green Powders

Green powders provide a wide variety of concentrated green vegetables. A great benefit to incorporating green powders into your diet is that they include plant-algae like spirulina and chlorella.

There are many different types of green powders available at your local health food stores. Look for an organic green powder, and if you have a gluten sensitivity, make sure the product is certified “gluten-free” as some blends use barley grass, which contains gluten. As always, make sure to look at what type of sweetener is used and how much sugar the green powder contains (stick to less than five grams of sugar per serving).

5. Vegetable Soups

A warm bowl of soup is another great way to incorporate several different vegetables into one meal. You can either make a chopped vegetable soup or a pureed soup. Consider adding these vegetables to your next soup:

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Spinach

By incorporating more green vegetables into your diet, you will be crowding out other processed foods that aren’t as nutrient dense. Remember to fill half of your plate with vegetables to make sure you supply your body with the nourishment it deserves.

*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.


Take your health to the next level by attending Perfect Health, a complete six-day Ayurvedic cleanse focused on your mind-body health, where you'll learn tools for your daily life. Learn More.


 

Share This Article
About the Author
Amy Krasner

Amy Krasner

Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Chef
Amy Krasner is the founder of a San Diego-based nutrition practice Nourished Balance . She works one-on-one with clients to improve their health through science-based nutrition and holistic health coaching. Amy supports her clients with customized nutrition plans for health concerns including: thyroid imbalances, high cholesterol, weight loss, impaired digestion, and auto-immune conditions. Amy also works with several local companies to provide nutrition education and services as part of the employee wellness programs.Read more