leafy green vegetables leafy green vegetables Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and spinach are often referred to as cruciferous vegetables, and they're often missing in many American diets. (Photo: George Dolgikh/Shutterstock)

7 ways to eat more leafy greens

It's a new year. Is it also time for a new diet? Here's how to get green with your food, and still enjoy it.

If you think the word "cruciferous" refers to a prehistoric era when dinosaurs roamed the earth and not a nutrient-dense class of vegetables, you're probably not eating enough of them.

And seeing as we're almost through with 2017, it's only natural that you're thinking about the new year – and its corresponding resolutions. Namely, ways to make next year better than this one (shouldn't be that hard, amiright?). One of the most common resolutions we make is to eat better. How do we do this? We could cut out sugar, go low-carb, go raw, go Paleo, go vegan, go gluten-free ... incorporate more leafy greens into your diet? OK, let's pick that one. You've got plenty to choose from: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, turnips, watercress ...

Here are a few ways to incorporate those cruciferous – in layman's terms, leafy green – vegetables into your diet.

Sneak them into eggs

Spinach and mushroom quiche Spinach and mushroom quiche. (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

We say "sneak," but we really mean "show off." Aside from the obvious nutritional benefits, using greens like spinach, zucchini or broccoli as an ingredient in your egg breakfast adds depth, spice and a light crunch. One of our favorite recipes for this concept is quiche. Add in all the goodness of cheese and mushrooms, you'll be filled with the warmth of an authentic Mediterranean kitchen, and you'll surely fulfill your vegetable serving quotient for the day.

Here's our recipe for spinach and mushroom quiche.

Turn them into a smoothie

super green smoothie This easy, filling smoothie is made with avocado. (Photo: Jerry James Stone)

Having a green smoothie as a meal ticks off all the boxes in this new, improved, health-conscious version of you: it makes you feel healthy, it gives you an energy boost, and others will admire your discipline. This smoothie's most prominent ingredients are avocado and spinach, but you can also use kale, celery or other greens. As long as you have a blender, the choices are yours.

Here's our green smoothie recipe.

Fry 'em up for fritters

kale leek patties These patties offer another way to enjoy kale. (Photo: Sarah Berkowitz)

This combo merges sweet leeks and softened kale, with a little feta cheese for an even more intense flavor. This one's perfect for people who love fried food way more than they love kale. Which is – yes, we're certain – just about everyone.

Here's our kale leek fritter recipe, as well as some other fritter recipes to consider.

Slice 'em up for slaw

Brussels sprout cole slaw This unique take on slaw combines shredded Brussels sprouts, carrots and radishes with a Greek yogurt-based dressing. (Photo: Jerry James Stone)

In this twist on slaw, shredded Brussels sprouts, carrots and radishes are tossed in a Greek yogurt-based dressing that is tangy and crisp. After combining the slaw with the dressing, be sure to let it stand for 15 minutes to slightly wilt the Brussels sprouts.

What's great about this coleslaw recipe is how hearty it is. The sprouts add a certain heft to the side dish. Of course, the best recipes are the ones you can hack. Chopped kale is a great addition to this salad if you have some on hand.

Here's our slaw recipe.

Use them as a pizza topping

kale and cauliflower flatbread This kale and cauliflower flatbread is the best cure for pizza fatigue. (Photo: Jerry James Stone)

Believe it or not, cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable. You don't usually see it in its leafy form, but it does have green leaves, which are usually removed in favor of the white, crunchy head you see on grocery shelves. And believe it or not Part 2, cauliflower is actually a really good pizza topping. In some recipes, substitutions come with a cost. They taste funky or require so many other components that the value is lost. But cauliflower doesn't do that.

If you are looking to explore those possibilities, this recipe is a great start.

Make a party-pleasing dip

spinach dip Spinach dip: The perfect party appetizer to please any crowd. (Photo: Jerry James Stone)

What's a party without homemade spinach dip? It's not a party, that's for sure. Don't let those complicated recipes get you down. This recipe is just as good, easy to make, and bound to be a favorite.

As with many of the recipes featured in this list, you can easily add many veggies to this dip. You don't have to stick to spinach and artichokes. Shredded carrots and chopped kale are great additions as well.

Here's our spinach artichoke dip recipe.

Make a salad that shines

bok choy salad Bok choy, an Asian green, pairs well with citrus. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

A base of iceberg and romaine, a handful of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, perhaps a radish or two ... and we call it a salad. Yawn. Aren't you ready for a dazzling difference? Enter bok choy, an Asian green that pairs so well with your favorite salad fix-ins, you'll wonder why you waited so long to try it. It's got a flavor reminiscent of mustard greens, but more mild, which makes it perfect as a base for any salad.

Here are two stunning bok choy salad recipes: Citrus bok choy with honey garlic ranch, and purple cabbage and bok choy salad with almond butter dressing. And here's a warm arugula salad that's perfect for winter.


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Related Topics: Healthy eating

7 ways to eat more leafy greens
Cruciferous, or leafy green, vegetables are a must for any diet. Here's how to integrate them into your diet and still enjoy your food.