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8 Easy Ways To Eat More Greens

Hate salad? There are other ways to get the leafy vegetables your body needs.

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By Taylor Lupo 

A healthy diet should include a variety of vegetables in an array of colors—dark green, red, orange, yellow and purple. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture guidelines recommend that adults get two to three cups on a daily basis. That may seem daunting but eating more greens and other veggies doesn’t have to be a complicated culinary task. You also don’t have to eat an entire crown of broccoli or crunch your way through a huge salad at every meal.

Adding spinach, kale and romaine into the dishes you already enjoy can give them a healthy boost—and you may not even be able to taste the difference.

Greens are low in calories and help keep your body hydrated. They're also loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and K as well as manganese. Check out these easy (and delicious) ways to sneak more greens into your meals.

This article was medically reviewed and updated in September 2019.

Breakfast: omelets

2 / 9 Breakfast: omelets

Vegetables might not be high on your list of “breakfast foods,” but who says you can’t ditch the doughnuts and bagels and start your day with some green veggies. Add some spinach, kale, parsley, chopped broccoli or arugula to scrambled eggs. This protein-packed meal is also rich in iron and fiber, which will help you feel full longer.

Veggies are low in calories—just seven per raw cup of spinach and 31 in a chopped cup of broccoli. Swapping whole eggs for egg whites and skipping the cheese are other options for a low-cal breakfast omelet.

Breakfast: smoothies

3 / 9 Breakfast: smoothies

A fiber-rich fruit smoothie (without added sugars) can be a healthy way to kick off your day but it could be even better if you toss in some greens. Boost the nutritional value of your morning shake by adding kale, spinach or dandelion greens. Aside from providing your beverage with a vibrant green color, leafy vegetables offer a slew of essential nutrients, such as vitamins A, C and K as well as fiber, folate, magnesium, calcium, iron and potassium. Vitamins A and C help your body produce and repair cells, while calcium assists in keeping bones and teeth strong.

It's can be easy to overload your blender, adding too many calories and more fat and sugar than you need. Keep it simple with a shorter list of healthy ingredients, such as spinach or kale and low-sugar fruits, like raspberries and blackberries. Incorporating a healthy fat or protein into your smoothie can also help you feel satisfied longer. Try adding a tablespoon of chia seeds, a quarter of an avocado or a scoop of your favorite protein powder.

Breakfast: oatmeal

4 / 9 Breakfast: oatmeal

Swap sweet oatmeal for a bowl of the savory stuff. A serving of steel-cut oats is high in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and can help you stay full longer. Top your oats with steamed greens, like low-calorie leafy greens and a poached egg. This breakfast is a good mix of fiber, protein and other essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, K and C as well as magnesium, potassium and iron.  

Lunch: vegetable soup

5 / 9 Lunch: vegetable soup

Vegetable soups and stews are a way to get a variety of leafy greens and other veggies in one dish. Soups are versatile, too. You can wash and chop any vegetables that are hiding in your fridge. Vitamin- and fiber-rich asparagus makes a great addition. in a pot or slow cooker, combine your veggies with low-sodium vegetable broth, a blend of herbs and spices and a few handfuls of the greens, like Swiss chard, kale or bok choy.

Making your own vegetable soup can help you control what you’re consuming since store-bought versions are often high in fat, sodium and calories.

Lunch: lettuce wraps

6 / 9 Lunch: lettuce wraps

Sandwich bread and wraps can be calorie bombs, adding a few hundred extra calories to your afternoon meal. Swap this crab-heavy option for a few pieces of crisp lettuce, instead. Bibb, romaine and iceberg lettuce are low in calories, and deliver a punch of fiber and vitamin A, which can support eye health and help promote dental and skin vitality.

Another tip for cutting calories: Trade in a spoonful of mayonnaise for some homemade hummus. You can also add in a source of lean protein and a serving of veggies for a healthy lunch that’s still low in calories.

Dinner: veggie noodles

7 / 9 Dinner: veggie noodles

Including fresh spinach within your favorite pasta dish can add flavor, color and a dose of vitamin A. You can slash carbohydrates and calories by ditching the pasta altogether. Veggie noodles, often made from zucchini, butternut squash or cucumber, are a great alternative to traditional or whole grain pasta. Zucchini noodles contain potassium, which helps promote normal muscle function, as well as manganese—a mineral that is important for bone health.

Add a double dose of nutrients to your pasta by sneaking some greens into your sauce. Boiled collard greens add texture, fiber and vitamin A to homemade pasta sauce. You can also throw in some basil and sage, which can add flavor and nutritional value without extra calories.

Dinner: turkey burger

8 / 9 Dinner: turkey burger

Before you toss your next turkey burger on the grill, mix shredded zucchini and scallions into the ground poultry. The combination of these greens adds folate, a B-vitamin helpful for producing healthy cells, as well as vitamin K, which is essential for healthy blood. The moisture in zucchini also helps keep your burgers juicy.

Don’t forget the toppings. Layer on a few lettuce leaves, calorie-free pickle chips and avocado for added vitamins and good-for-you fats.

Snack: kale chips

9 / 9 Snack: kale chips

Typical junk foods are essentially bags of empty calories; most offer no vitamins and minerals. An ounce, or about 15 potato chips, contains 160 calories and 10 grams of fat. Instead, try a wholesome snack options, like homemade kale chips. Per cup, kale contains 34 calories, less than 1 gram of fat but it’s packed with vitamins A, C and K.     

Drizzle kale with olive oil and your favorite spices and bake it for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (or until the edges are brown, but not burnt).

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