Get your greens! 21 tasty recipes to inspire you
Green vegetables in general, particularly cruciferous vegetables, can improve your imunity thanks to a specific compound found in vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and kale. This compound helps regulate the number of intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) found in the skin and intestinal lining. These are cells which help heal cuts and fight off germs. Whilst initial research into this was carried out on mice (1) and may not hold true for humans, making sure you eat more cruciferous vegetables and greens definitely can't hurt.
Sometimes it's hard to know what to do with green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, but be sure to add them to your diet as they boast a number of health benefits. Kale has the most antioxidants of any fruit or vegetables and is a source of vitamins A, C and K as well as isothiocyanates, shown to decrease your risk of cancer (2), cartenoids and flavanoids.
We've come up with 21 delicious recipes to inspire you, because we should all be eating our greens!
#1. Kale and sundried tomato hummus
#2. Pasta with kale pesto
Kale pesto? Why not – it's a super-easy way to get your greens! This pasta dish uses prawns and tomatoes plus a pesto made from cheese, heart-healthy olive oil, kale and almonds. We think this pesto would also taste great with fish or chicken.
#3. Chickpeas with spinach and egg
Similar to a recipe in our post about chickpeas, this recipe adds smoky spice to the chickpeas with Spanish paprika. Iron-rich spinach and protein-packed eggs ensures this is a healthy weekend breakfast or brunch.
#4. Spinach muffins
Savoury muffins are all the rage in the US, so if you're looking for a great way to get your greens, this yummy recipe is perfect! Gluten-free, vegetable packed muffins are perfect for breakfast or served for lunch with hummus and salad. Packed with carrots (a source of vitamin A), spinach, and immune-boosting onion and garlic.
#5. Spinach mini quiches
You can use whatever cheese you like for these bite-sized breakfast quiches – we love blue cheese! Healthy coconut flour, spinach, eggs and almond milk (we swap the suggested sweetened vanilla for unsweetened) makes these delicious quiches a super-easy and healthy option.
#6. Kale and cauliflower salad
Cauliflower, kale and immune-boosting onions make this one of our favourite salads; we're huge fans of cauliflower. This would make the ideal lunch after a lunchtime workout, and the nutty sesame seed dressing adds bags of flavour.
#7. Spinach tabbouleh
Whip up your own Middle-Eastern tabbouleh salad at home and serve with oily fish such as salmon, or chicken. This recipe includes spinach, garlic, cucumber and tomatoes, plus plenty of mint for an authentic flavour.
#8. Curried kale with coconut
Vitamin A, C and K from the kale and healthy fats from the coconut make this a truly healthy dish, that packs a punch in the spice department too. We love this served with sweet potato wedges and spicy chicken, but it tastes great with anything!
#9. Autumn greens salad with sunflower seeds
Vitamin E packed sunflower oil and sunflower seeds are the perfect addition to a light greens salad. You can use any mix of greens you want; kale and swiss chard with brussel sprouts are a great combination. Serving them raw preserves the nutrients and vitamins.
#10. Chilled sesame spinach
The Asian flavours of sesame, rice vinegar and soy make this amazingly tasty little side dish the perfect accompaniment to chinese marinated pork or beef. Packed with iron and vitamins from the spinach, this has to be one of our favourite recipes! You could even add tofu for a complete meal.
#11. Risotto with edamame, rocket and porcini
Rocket, or arugula, as it's called in the USA, is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and folates. Here it's served in a creamy vegetable risotto which is ideal for impressing friends with. It also includes edamame beans (packed with B-vitamins) and porcini mushrooms for a rich flavour.
#12. Sweet n' sour cabbage rolls
Greens don't have to be relegated to side dish status, and this comfort-food main is perfect for chilly evenings. Turkey is a rich source of tryptophan, which can help you get a good night's sleep, whilst healthy brown rice and a rich sweet n' sour tomato sauce elevate this dish to something very special indeed. Cabbage makes the ideal wrapper – it's low in calories and can help prevent cancer, thanks to the isothiacyanate compound (3).
#13. Bean and rocket salad
You can use tinned mixed beans for convenience or your own blend of chickpeas, kidney beans and haricot beans for a protein and fibre-packed blend. The delicious mustard and red wine vinegar dressing with heart-healthy olive oil makes this salad an instant hit. We like it for a light lunch after a run.
#14. Chilli and wild rocket spaghetti
For those days where you don't have time for cooking complicated recipes, Jamie Oliver's spicy pasta recipe is just the ticket. Wild rocket is packed with phytochemicals and isothyiocyanates which can protect against cancer, and this recipe takes just minutes to prepare.
#15. Kale and potato soup
This simple soup recipe is ideal if you're feeling unwell. It's packed with vegetables – carrots, potatoes, celery plus three cups of kale. It gives you 100% of your vitamin C requirements for the day and even has immune-boosting garlic and onions. Yummy!
#16. Bok choy and kale fried rice
#17. Chickpea and greens stew
This is cosy comfort food at its best. Use tinned or dried chickpeas, depending on what you have to hand. With sweet potatoes, lemon, sunflower seeds and mixed greens (try chard and kale), this is sure to keep the sniffles at bay, and you can adjust the spice level to suit your tastes. We like it hot!
#18. Spinach and avocado dip
If you've tried some of the dips from our 'Delicious dips' post, this one should be next on your list! Bright green and packed with nutrients, this is clean eating at its best. It includes a whole avocado and five cups of spinach and is packed with vitamin E, potassium, antioxidants, vitamins A and K and iron.
#19. Creamy red lentil and kale soup
Coconut milk, lentils (an excellent source of protein and fibre), tomatoes and kale – what's not to love about this hearty, chunky soup? The lycopene in tomatoes can help protect you against cancer, which is just one good excuse to tuck into a bowl of this soup after your yoga class.
#20. Sun-dried tomato cheesy kale chips
Kale chips may sound like an unusual way to add vegetables to your diet, but they're a far healthier option than nachos or other crisps! The kale leaves are coated in a sauce made with cashew nuts and nutritional yeast, for a cheesy flavour that's totally vegan-friendly. Then just dehydrate the leaves until crisp; serve with your favourite dip if you like.
#21. Dandelion greens dressing
Tasty salad dressings can help us to eat more salads, and dandelion leaves are a great way to purify your blood and detox your body. Just one cup contains 9% of your recommended daily intake of iron, 10% calcium and 112% of vitamin A. This dressing is great with a green salad, but you could also use it as a dip or pasta sauce – we think it tastes amazing served with salmon too!
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