Sneaky Ways to Eat More Greens

greeens_webGreens are the most nutrient-dense food you can possibly eat. They are loaded in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K. They also contain high amounts of fiber, folic acid and chlorophyll and many other micronutrients. Yet, time and time again, I notice that it’s the one type of vegetable most people are not eating on a regular basis.

Here are some sneaky (and not so sneaky) ways to incorporate greens into your diet:

Green Smoothies – Add 1 or 2 huge handfuls of spinach to your smoothie. You can barely taste it, I promise! My favorite green smoothie is a huge handful of spinach, 1 banana, a handful of frozen berries and water.

Veggie Sauce with Pasta – Sauté some greens and add to your favorite marinara sauce. While you’re at it, add in some other vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms and carrots too! Serve over your favorite whole grain pasta.

Bed of Greens – Serve whatever you are making for dinner over a bed of greens. For instance, if you are doing a veggie stir fry with rice, put a bed of greens (spinach or romaine lettuce work great) on your plate, then add your entree on top or one the side.

Salad Lunch – Ok so this one isn’t that sneaky, I admit. On Sunday night, prep lettuce, a bunch of salad toppings and a dressing. By “prep” I mean wash and chop. Then, make your salads for the next few days in separate containers. Keep your dressing separate – I use quarter pint mason jars. Now you have healthy salads ready for the next few days of lunch!

On a Baked Potato – Is it just me, or does everything taste better on a baked potato? Try topping your baked potato with steamed broccoli or sauteed kale. Then top that with my plant-based Cheez sauce. Yum. Take it up a health notch and make it a baked sweet potato.

Throw them in a Soup or Stew – Whatever soup or stew you’re cooking up, throw some greens in! Kale is a sturdy green that works great in chili, minestrone or lentil soups.

Snack on some chips… kale chips that is! Ditch the potato chips – and eat kale chips instead! So easy to make your own, store bought chips are uber-expensive and loaded with sodium.

DYI Miso Noodle Soup (in a jar!)

Meet your new lunch to go – Miso Noodles in a Cup! Just like the noodle cups you used to love, but without the sodium and preservatives. And, its way tastier! You can prep these up to 4 days in advance.

For the noodle cup:
1/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper (about 1/4 of a large pepper)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
2 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cake of ramen noodles (I use Lotus Foods millet and brown rice noodles)
A few sprigs of cilantro
Small handful spinach

For the flavor insert cup:
1 tsp miso
1 tsp shoyu sauce (or tamari)
1 thinly sliced green onion
1 tsp sesame seeds
1/2” ginger, finely grated

Stack all of the noodle cup items in a 1 1/2 pint mason jar. Stuff as much spinach at the top as you can. Put all of flavor insert cup ingredients into the cup fitted for a mason jar, then seal the jar. You can do this portion up to 4 days in advance.

To cook, boil some water – a water kettle is great for this. Or even better if you have a hot water dispenser at your work. Remove the flavor cup and fill the jar 3/4 full with water, the contents of the flavor cup, and seal the jar. Let sit for 4 minutes, stir, seal, then let sit for another 4 minutes. This time may vary if you use different noodles than I am. Stir and enjoy!

Go Play Outside – It’s good for you!

DSC02676It’s April and spring has arrived to Colorado… for the most part… Let’s just ignore the forecast for snow this weekend, shall we? Time to go outside and enjoy the warm, sunny weather! Did you know it is actually good for your health to spend time in the outdoors? There is a reason it feels so amazing!

Here are some health benefits of getting outside:

Your daily dose of Vitamin D. Vitamin D is actually a hormone that plays a key role in your immune system and keeps your bones strong. Getting your daily dose of sunshine has been linked to the prevention of osteoporosis, cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and heart disease. Spending time in the sun is the best way to get it! Aim to get 10 minutes of sun time without wearing sunscreen.

Get’s you moving! If you’re outdoors, most likely you are moving your bod. Sitting is the smoking of our generation. Exercising on a regular basis strengthens muscles, improves heart and lung function, reduces your risk of major diseases, stimulates the growth of new brain cells, and even adds years to your life. Regular aerobic exercise lowers levels of stress hormones. For many people, exercise helps relieve depression as effectively as antidepressant medication. Studies show just 30 minutes of physical activity on most days is all that’s required to reap big benefits.

Have an amazing night’s sleep. Our circadian rhythm, our internal sleep cycle tied to the sun, can be altered by artificial light. Spending too much time inside can interfere with our natural sleep schedule. Getting early morning exposure to the sun recalibrates our circadian rhythm. If you have to be inside, consider restricting your use of screen time (iPads, phones, etc) a few hours before bedtime too.

Take a breath of fresh air. Did you know that indoor air pollution is way worse than outdoor pollution? Studies have shown that indoor pollutants are normally 2-5 (and even up to 100) times higher than outdoor air pollutants. Health risks associated with indoor pollutants include increased chance of heart disease, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis and asthmatic attacks. Opening windows and having house plants help indoor air quality too, fyi.

Be happy! Spending time in nature has been linked to improved focus, boosts in serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter) and increased activities in the regions of your brain responsible for empathy and love. Nice!

So… what are you doing still inside reading this? Go outside and play right now!

Peace is every step.

The shining red sun is my heart.

Each flower smiles with me.

How green, how fresh all that grows.

How cool the wind blows.

Peace is every step.

It turns the endless path to joy.

Thich Nat Hanh

Thai Inspired Spring Salad

Lately  I’ve been loving this fresh, crunchy salad. Use whatever vegetables and herbs you like!


Thai-Inspired Spring Salad
(serves 3-4)
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cut into 1” cubes
1 package of rice or soba noodles
1/2 head of Romaine lettuce, roughly chopped
2 carrots, julienned
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (for garnish)

4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
3/4 rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar or coconut sugar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp chili flakes

To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients and stir.

Marinate the tofu in half of the dressing for at least 30 minutes. Heat your oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Bake the tofu into golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Cook the noodles to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water and set asid.

To assemble the salad, evenly divide the noodles, tofu, lettuce, cucumbers and carrots onto your plate. Top with cilantro, sprouts, green onions and peanuts. Ladle dressing over the entire salad and eat!