Do you feel like you get enough leafy greens in your diet? If you look beyond spinach do you regularly eat a variety of greens? If you feel that this is an area of your diet that is sometimes lacking then you are not alone.
Leafy greens – I’m talking chard, kale, beetroot leaves and cabbage – are packed full of nutrients, a great source of fibre and support healthy gut bacteria too. Ideally we should be including plenty of different leafy greens in our diet every day. The reality is we often struggle to include a single portion. If you are stuck for inspiration on how to up your quota then read on.
I would say I eat a pretty healthy diet. Plenty of variety, lots of vegetables, berries and healthy fats. But I always feel like I should be eating more leafy greens. It’s not that I don’t like leafy greens. It’s not that I don’t eat them. It’s more that I need to make a conscious effort to include them in my meals. If I don’t make that effort then my beautiful rainbow chard will have wilted, my kale will be fading to yellow and my cabbage will be headed for the compost bin. For the past few months I’ve been making more of an effort to cook with leafy greens. Today I’m sharing with you my favourites.
Pesto is one of my fridge standbys. It makes a quick sauce for pasta, spread for sandwiches and adds a depth of flavour to soup, roast vegetables or tomato based risotto. I shared a recipe for pesto with chard or beet leaves here. An even simpler pesto is my salad bag pesto below.
Blitz pine nuts in food processor for 30 seconds. Cut parmesan into cubes, add into food processor and blitz until resembles breadcrumb consistency.
Add salad bag and blitz again until salad mixes into pesto. Scrape down the sides from time to time and gradually add the oil. Keep going until pesto is the consistency you like (I tend to keep it quite coarse). Add basil and black pepper and blitz for a few more seconds to combine.
This will also work in a blender but don’t blitz the cheese and nuts before the leaves or you will end up with a cheese paste stuck to the bottom of the blender – go for more of a chuck it all in approach!
It keeps for about a week in the fridge and makes a decent sized pot/jar but make sure you cover it with extra olive oil for storing.
4. Massaged Kale Salad
OK, the first time I heard about massaging cabbage even I thought that was a step too far. Who has time to massage vegetables??? The thing is, kale is extremely good for you but it is also quite tough. This method of preparing kale softens the vegetable but provides texture to salad.
To massage the kale pull the softer leaves away from any woody or thick stalk. Put the kale into a large bowl and add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Rub the oil into the leaves for about 1 min until all leaves are evenly coated. Squeeze on the juice of half a lemon. Mix and leave to stand whilst you prepare the rest of your salad.
1 portion green, beluga or puy lentils (you can cook your own or buy a can or pack of precooked).
1 portion of rice (I like red rice for this but wholegrain brown or a mix with wild rice would work too).
1 portion of massaged kale (about 100g)
5 dried apricots, rehydrated in hot water, drained and chopped.
Mix together, season and serve
This makes a good base for a more substantial salad. I like combining with griddled Mediterranean veg, roast sweet potato, pesto and halloumi. It also makes an accompaniment for chicken and avocado or for fish. You can play around with flavours adding dressing of your choice.
5. Season with greens
If you are still not convinced by the idea of massaging kale then this last suggestion is the easiest of all. Take every opportunity to add leafy greens to curries, stews and stir fries. Most leafy greens only take a minute or two to wilt down.
Roughly chop a portion of spinach, pak choi, chard or cavalo nero whilst your food is cooking. At the point where you would season and add in any fresh herbs throw in the greens at the same time. If like me, you have to make an effort sometimes to include greens then getting into the habit of adding with seasoning can really help.
And if - like me – you buy a huge bunch of greens and then forget them, roughly chop and freeze as soon as possible. Most robust greens freeze well if you are planning to cook with them rather than eat raw. This makes it so easy to add to a one pot before you serve.
I'm Kim Adams, founder of SAVI Nutrition. A Registered Nutritional Therapist who is passionate about healthy, tasty food. Here I share with you my thoughts on food and health alongside a few of my favourite recipes.