Increasing Leafy Greens in Your Family’s Diet

Yahuah has blessed us with a variety of leafy green vegetables to the provide our bodies with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Some of them include: spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, kale (all varieties), lettuce (all except iceberg), cabbage, bok choy, dandelion, arugula, chard, turnip greens, and beet greens. Many of the leafy green vegetables are full of calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, and different B vitamins. These specific vitamins and minerals help to prevent inflammatory diseases, strengthen bones, and prevent cancer. They also lower the risk of high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease. Did you know that beet greens have one of the highest amounts of potassium? The potassium in a serving of beet greens even exceeds the amount of potassium in a medium banana! Beet greens are delicious sauteed with your favorite seasonings.

I recently shifted my 4-year-old daughter and I to primarily plant-based diet. The first few weeks went pretty well, but I noticed her leafy green intake was very low. I tried offering a variety of different vegetables to encourage her to eat them with minimal success. I found myself in the same position of many clients I counseled over the years. I had to go back and think about the things I would recommend to my clients to help their families. I would often remind parents that their child learns their eating habits from them. That reminded me of Proverbs 22:6 which reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he turns not away from it.” We can instill healthy habits into our children just like we instill the lessons from the bible, righteous characteristics, and our Hebraic culture. They learn from watching us. Keep in mind that some children need up to 10 or more exposures to the same food before they are willing to give it a try! Also, children may try an unfamiliar food if it is prepared or offered in different ways. It is always a good idea to offer the new food along with something they already enjoy. I offered my daughter Kale Chips a few weeks ago and it was a VICTORY! Halleluyah! Later, I will share the other ways she has been getting leafy greens in her diet.

Children are not the only ones that struggle with eating leafy greens. It can be a challenge for some adults too. Some adults have a hard time with the taste and texture of greens. If this I the case in your home, I encourage you to try to get more green vegetables in your diet as a family. You can try a new leafy green and/or a new recipe that includes leafy greens once per week. If your child is old enough to help in the kitchen, let them get involved. Most children are more open to eating new foods, if they get to help prepare it with you.

There are a variety of ways you can incorporate more leafy greens into your family’s diet. You can try a salad, sauteed greens, add them to soups, bake them (Kale Chips), add them to pasta dishes, use them to make omelets, or vegetable scrambles. Our favorite ways to get in leafy green vegetables is by juicing them and adding them to smoothies. My family loves it when I juice spinach, kale, parsley, apples, and pears. Sometimes, I’ll do something similar with citrus fruits like pineapples and oranges. We will also drink a green smoothie. I start with blending spinach and water or almond milk. Then I add a banana and frozen mangoes to make it sweet. WARNING– if you mix green leafy veggies and red fruits it will turn the smoothie brown. That may be unappealing to a small child even though it tastes really good! We also like blending the kale with blueberries and banana.

I hope these tips will help you and your family increase your leafy green intake. The long-term goal is to try to include them in your diet daily. If you are just starting out, make small goals. Start with one recipe per week. Then, increase your intake gradually as you discover what you and your family enjoy. Shalom!

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