7 Tasty Ways To Eat More Leafy Greens In Your Diet

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Emma

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Medically reviewed by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

How to Get more Leafy Greens in Your diet

Mom always told us to eat our dark leafy greens. She certainly knew what she was talking about – green vegetables are some of the most important foods for proper digestion, weight management, and even bone and cardiovascular health.

What can leafy greens do for you? What’s the best way to eat more of them? If you’re wondering how to get more leafy greens in your diet, we got you covered. 

Read on for all of our favorite quick and convenient ways to go green.

7 Ways to Get Your Leafy Greens In

Leafy greens are incredibly versatile – you can sneak them into baked goods, beverages, desserts, and any proper meal under the sun. 

Here are ways to get more leafy greens in your diet:

  1. Homemade Kale Chips
  2. Superfood Pesto
  3. Green Veggies Stir-Fry
  4. Ultimate Mega Salad
  5. An Upgraded Grain Bowl
  6. Baking with Leafy Greens
  7. Green Smoothie and Juices

Homemade Kale Chips

Homemade kale chips are delicious and are the perfect emergency provision whenever you feel yourself succumbing to a snack attack. All you need is 3 ingredients:  kale, olive oil, and sea salt. 

After pressing the washed kale leaves with a clean towel, lay them out on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set your oven to 275F. 

You can actually dehydrate most vegetables, but kale chips really are top-notch. For an added kick, you can add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, nutritional yeast, or anything else that you like.

Superfood Pesto

A staple of Italian households everywhere, pesto is great to have on hand for salads, sandwiches, pasta, and even to spread on toast. Ideally, you’ll have some basil to incorporate into the mix, but you’re free to omit it or replace it with other green herbs like cilantro or parsley.

This recipe for a basic superfood pesto includes leafy greens and is beyond easy, requiring only a food processor and a couple of key ingredients:

  • Dark, leafy greens, such as fresh spinach, kale, or beet tops
  • Two cloves of garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Pine nuts
  • Lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese, shredded

This is one clever way to use up fading greens in the back of your fridge. The potency of the garlic will marry well with the earthier tones of the leafy greens for a delectably balanced pesto.

Green Veggie Stir-Fry

For some Asian-inspired fare, you can never go wrong with a hot pan, some tangy sauce, and all of the green vegetables you’ve got on hand. 

Broccoli is often a staple vegetable in stir-fries, but leafy green Asian vegetables like bok choy are another naturally robust choice. When choosing which greens to add, you’ll want to use anything tough enough to withstand high heat without turning to mush.

A stir-fry is a quick meal that is also very economical. If you’re not sure how to nail your own homemade stir-fry sauce, you can simply use something from the store to save yourself time.

The Ultimate Mega-Salad

Even if you’re keeping things light with your diet, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a million-dollar salad. Just pick a protein and prepare for an epic meal.

Studies show that eating leafy greens like kale raw [1] is actually the best way to do it; heat denatures the enzymes within the plant, limiting their biomechanical potential. Start with a thick bed of super-healthy greens as your base – butter lettuce, bibb lettuce, spinach, baby kale, arugula, bok choy, or even shredded cabbage.

Now, the good stuff: toppings. Add in healthy fat, some crunch, and protein to make a complete meal.

No salad is complete without some avocado, some toasted nuts, a few croutons, seasoned legumes, and any other form of pizazz that you can think of to incorporate. Make sure to add a lean protein source such as edamame, chicken, hard-boiled eggs, or shrimp.

Throw it all together, grab your favorite salad dressing, and you’re ready to munch.

An Upgraded Grain Bowl

For this super greens hack, simply take your favorite grain base – rice, farro, barley, quinoa, or even macaroni and any other type of pasta. You can add in greens like spinach while it’s still hot, wilting them down, or dump them in cold and raw for more bite.

Aside from the greens themselves, some other awesome mix-ins include legumes, shaved radish or fennel, radicchio, endive wedges, julienned carrots, and cucumber. 

You can even add in sweet, seasonal fruit, like slices of peach, plum, pear, or apple, or roasted vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, yams, and zucchini for more textural variety.

Grain bowls are like healthy salads for those who don’t like traditional salads. If you’ve got all of the ingredients ready, this is one way to grab lunch in a hurry.

Baking With Leafy Greens

For a healthy treat that won’t spike your blood sugar, you can sneak blended greens into your favorite baked goods. Blend greens like spinach down to mush and incorporate this slurry into banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, hearty breakfast muffins, and even quick meals like oats.

Depending on your dietary needs and goals, you can also substitute zero-calorie sweeteners like stevia and plant-based binders like flax or chia in lieu of eggs. 

Your baked goods can also be jam-packed with protein powder, nut butter, and even black beans or avocado if you’re in need of a little more energy throughout the day.

Green Smoothies and Juices

We love green smoothies and green juices because they can be tailored to fit any meal or dietary goal.

If you want a light green smoothie, you can keep things simple by including the following:

  • Raw spinach, kale, or beet greens
  • Water or lemon juice
  • An apple or a pear
  • Pineapple

If you’re feeling extra hungry, we recommend starting with tossing a banana into the mix, at the very least. 

Other add-ins include mango, beets, baked sweet potato, cinnamon, and pretty much anything else you can think of. Don’t forget to blend in your favorite protein powder for the perfect pre-workout meal instantly.

This is also one recipe to keep in your back pocket whenever you have a child in need of a quick, healthy snack. Sometimes, it may be easier to get them onboard their greens when they aren’t in plain sight.

Feel free to tweak the recipe to your family’s preferences – you can add other ingredients like coconut milk, Medjool dates, cocoa or vanilla, berries, or anything else that makes them go “Yum!”.

The Health Benefits of Eating Leafy Greens

There are more than a few important nutrients that can be found in abundance in many leafy green vegetables:

  • Dietary Fiber
  • Folate
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Calcium

All of the above nutrients play key roles in many vital bodily functions, including bone and eye health, immune system function, and digestion.

Green Vegetables Are Heart-Healthy

Green vegetables, by nature, are powerful antioxidants[2]. These anti-inflammatory qualities can be attributed to a few different flavonoids[3]. Flavonoids are highly-potent antioxidants found in leafy greens like kale and beet tops..  

These flavonoids target free radicals, harmful toxins in the bloodstream. They also improve heart health, support the body’s blood clotting ability, and even have the potential to lower blood pressure[4].

Leafy Greens Can Help With Weight Loss

Leafy greens are highly nutritious while remaining low in calories, satisfying the eater[5] and leaving less room on their plate for the more calorically-dense fare.

Your waistline isn’t the only thing that stands to benefit from eating leafy greens, either. Some research indicates[6] that a diet rich in leafy greens might also help you achieve lower cholesterol levels, as well.

Leafy Greens and Pregnancy

The folate, B12, and B6 present in dark leafy greens are all highly beneficial, especially for those who are pregnant or trying to conceive. Eating more of these nutrients has been shown to increase the likelihood of a positive pregnancy outcome[7], improving the rate of fetal growth and development through each trimester.

Keep the Good Greens Coming

Whether your favorite leafy greens are kale, spinach, or bok choy, these tips will help you to boost your leafy green intake in new and delicious ways. 

With so many ways to get your leafy green fix, there’s little stopping you from establishing a healthier (and more delicious!) routine. All of the recipes listed here are flexible and perfect for any walk of life. Your body will surely thank you for it.


+ 7 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Sikora E;Bodziarczyk I (2012). Composition and antioxidant activity of kale (Brassica oleracea L. var. acephala) raw and cooked. Acta scientiarum polonorum. Technologia alimentaria, [online] 11(3). Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22744944/ [Accessed 11 Dec. 2021].
  2. Subhasree, B., Baskar, R., Laxmi Keerthana, R., Lijina Susan, R. and Rajasekaran, P. (2009). Evaluation of antioxidant potential in selected green leafy vegetables. Food Chemistry, [online] 115(4), pp.1213–1220. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814609000739 [Accessed 10 Dec. 2021].
  3. ‌Kumar, S. and Pandey, A.K. (2013). Chemistry and Biological Activities of Flavonoids: An Overview. The Scientific World Journal, [online] 2013, pp.1–16. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24470791/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 2021].
  4. ‌Larson, A.J., Symons, J.D. and Jalili, T. (2012). Therapeutic Potential of Quercetin to Decrease Blood Pressure: Review of Efficacy and Mechanisms. Advances in Nutrition, [online] 3(1), pp.39–46. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22332099/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 2021].
  5. ‌Dreher, M.L. and Ford, N.A. (2020). A Comprehensive Critical Assessment of Increased Fruit and Vegetable Intake on Weight Loss in Women. Nutrients, [online] 12(7), p.1919. Available at: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/7/1919 [Accessed 10 Dec. 2021].
  6. ‌Europe PMC (2016). Europe PMC. [online] Europepmc.org. Available at: https://europepmc.org/article/med/20387744 [Accessed 10 Dec. 2021].
  7. Furness, D., Fenech, M., Dekker, G., Khong, T.Y., Roberts, C. and Hague, W. (2011). Folate, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 and homocysteine: impact on pregnancy outcome. Maternal & Child Nutrition, [online] 9(2), pp.155–166. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22023381/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 2021].
Emma

Medically reviewed by:

Emma Garofalo is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. A lover of science, art, and all things culinary, few things excite her more than the opportunity to learn about something new." It is now in the sheet in the onboarding paperwork, apologies!!

Medically reviewed by:

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