Now that spring is officially here, I'm ready to put aside the hearty winter meals that have gotten me through the cold months and move on to something new, light, and refreshing. Something fresh, crisp and, most importantly, green. Get your lettuce ready – we're putting it to work!
When I see patches of green finally return to my otherwise neglected yard, I know it’s early spring here in Western Pennsylvania. It’s a sign of rejuvenation. Just like my yard and house need a spring cleaning, my body does as well. I feel better in the spring eating smaller meals, drinking lots of water and upping my green intake.
Take a moment and listen to your body. Is it craving more greens and lighter food?
We hear it all the time. "You look great in that color!" "Red is your color!" What about green? How does green make you look and feel? I recommend you try it on for size.
Greens will make you look and feel fabulous. Here are a few reasons:
- They are low in calories so you can eat your heart out. Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food so you can eat greens until you are green in the face! You really can't overdo it with the greens. They naturally helped me shed my baby weight after I was pregnant with Madilyn.
- They get things moving. They are high in dietary fiber which gets digestion rolling and if you are like me, this makes me a happy girl! Who wants to be bloated and constipated? No thank you!
- They balance you out. If you are like me, you enjoy some junk food and that is totally cool. Incorporating greens in your diet allows you to "be bad" on occasion. Since they are nutritional powerhouses, they keep the balance against type 2 diabetes which can result in engorging in the SAD Standard American Diet (SAD) too much. So, go ahead and have that Panera Bread cinnamon roll on occasion. Just throw in some kale in your stir-fry that night for dinner.
- They let you show off your new fabulous pair of heels. Dark leafy greens have an incredibly high level of vitamin K which is important for the production of osteocalcin, a protein essential for bone health. So, go ahead and wear those new pumps and strut your sexy legs! Plus, greens are a major source of iron and calcium. Calcium? Yep.
- They let you bat your eyes. Green leafy vegetables are rich in beta-carotene. Plus, they contain lutein and zeaxanthin that protect against both cataract and age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of blindness in the elderly. My optometrist of a husband likes this.
- They fight off nasty cancer. I bet everyone reading this can think of one person they know who is fighting cancer. Some studies suggest that lutein and zeaxanthin may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast, skin and lung cancer, and may contribute to the prevention of heart disease and stroke.
- They help you stop and smell the roses. Dark, leafy greens have been my saving grace against seasonal allergies. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid found in leafy green vegetables. Quercetin is a natural compound that blocks substances involved in allergies. Better to me than Allegra or Zyrtec that made me feel a little loopy all day.
- They help you shake your groove thing. Greens contain Vitamin K which helps prevent osteoporosis as well as help protect us from inflammatory diseases including arthitis. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so make sure to put dressing on your salad, or cook your greens with oil.
Salads are an easy place to start to incorporate more spring greens in your diet. Plus, there are no rules with salads. I put them together based on what sounds good and what I have in the fridge. I personally adore fresh fruit and nuts in salad. Also, slices of fresh avocado are a nice addition as well. Add some kale to your salad to really take it to the next level.
With a delicious salad you can kick off the spring season in fine green style. So, what is your favorite salad combination?
Oh, guess what cookbook has amazing recipes with greens? The one I am giving away. Yep. Enter to win.