In the quest to eat healthier, start with green, leafy vegetables.
The more researchers look into the cause of disease, invariable the trail leads to a poor diet. The Standard American Diet, "SAD," for short (yeah, it's sad for sure) is literally killing us. In a nutshell, the problem can be summed-up in two words: Processed Foods.
Sugar (a.k.a. High Fructose Corn Syrup), Trans Fats (a.k.a. "hydrogenated" oils) and Omega-6 Fats (a.k.a. Soy, Corn and Vegetable Oils), which make-up the foundation nearly all processed foods, are clearly identified as leading causes of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and a long list of other health problems.
We simply must stop eating processed foods. This is much easier said than done because processed foods are so delicious, cheap and convenient. Yes, they are tempting, and it's hard to give them up, but they are massively destructive to our bodies.
One of the best ways to combat processed foods is to eat more green, leafy vegetables. Research tells us that when choosing a new behavior, be specific. So, for instance, instead of saying, "I'm going to eat better," you're more likely to succeed if you quantify your goal. A better vow is, "I'm going to eat at least one big serving of green, leafy vegetables EVERY DAY."
If you stick to it, you'll notice a number of positive changes in your life.
- Leafy, green vegetables are rich in fiber, so they'll reduce constipation. Also, that fiber fills you up, so you have less of an appetite for processed foods which translates into better health as well as weight loss.
- These vegetables are super-charged with vitamins and minerals, so right away, you'll feel better if you're not getting the proper vitamins and minerals already because such a depletion negatively affects the way your body and your brain function.
- Green, leafy vegetables have a very low glycemic index, which means your blood sugar will remain steady. You won't have those horrible swings in energy.
- When we invest ourselves in healthy habits, like eating green leafy vegetables daily, we are psychologically less inclined to engage in unhealthy behavior. We see this in people who exercise regularly. The idea behind it, is we see ourselves as healthy people, so we fulfill that ideal be living it out.
So what, exactly, are green leafy vegetables?
KALE is, in my opinion, the best one. I eat Kale in a salad every day. I buy it organic and pre-washed so all I have to do it put a big handful of it in a salad. Kale can have a pungent flavor, so I mix mine with spring greens, then add walnuts, avocado, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and homemade olive oil salad dressing with fresh garlic and herbs. So good!
MUSTARD GREENS, TURNIP GREENS AND COLLARD GREENS are other green, leafy vegetables like kale. Another great way to eat these super-foods is to rub the leaves in olive oil or tahini (sesame paste) and cook them for five minutes with garlic, avocado oil, and broth. They're also delicious in casserole or soups. Some people simply cook them plain and add a bit of salt and lemon juice.
CABBAGE is a green, leafy vegetable (even though it's not green, red cabbage still qualifies). Cabbage is the main ingredient in cole slaw and sauerkraut.
SPINACH and BROCCOLI are green, leafy vegetables. Most people are familiar with ways to incorporate those into the diet.
LETTUCE, in all its forms, such as ICEBERG, ROMAINE and ENDIVE, are green leafy vegetables, and are milder and more versatile than some of the options listed above. Consider using them as a "bed" for just about any main dish. It's amazing how much texture and taste lettuce adds to a normal meal.
One of my favorite uses for those big leaves is as the outside of a wrap. Two years ago I stopped eating grains, (which was one of the best things I've ever done. I HIGHLY recommend it!) and discovered I can still eat delicious wraps, but instead of a tortilla, use a nice, green, leafy vegetable in its place. That's a win-win!
Consider using the leafy greens as a nutritious "bed" for just about any entrée. Finally, there's the more salady-type greens, including romaine and endive, which make a great base for just about every salad but that can also be used as a substitute for bread to make sandwich "wraps."
The key to incorporating green, leafy vegetables into your diet is not to get overwhelmed. Just buy ONE and figure out how you'll consume it. Stick with just that one food, that one way, for a week or so or until you're ready to expand to something else.
Give it a try! You'll be glad you did.