When it comes to making changes to our diet or lifestyle, we often focus on foods we have to cut out or habits that we have to remove. Instead, let's focus on ADDING nourishing foods and healthy habits to our lifestyle in 2022. Your challenge over the next two weeks is to ADD a green vegetable and/or fruit to your diet every day! Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, chard or arugula for example are a rich source of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are plant chemicals that protect plants from illness and diseases. Guess what? When we eat those same phytonutrients, they also protect us from illness and diseases as well! Phytonutrients strengthen our immune system, lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer. Certain green vegetables like kale, broccoli, cabbage, arugula, and Brussels sprouts are “Premium” veg because they are hormone-balancing for women - specifically when it comes to estrogen. They help women metabolize or get rid of excess estrogen. Estrogen dominance can throw everything out of whack - causing symptoms like weight gain (especially in hips, thighs & mid-section), fatigue, irritability, anxiety, heavy periods, etc. Green veggies are also high in fiber and low in calories, a combination that will help you feel full and satisfied without overeating, which can lead to weight loss! Eating high fiber foods can also prevent sugar and carb cravings, contribute to healthy digestion and a healthy heart. Eating a daily green does not have to be boring! Here are some easy and delicious ways to enjoy eating your greens everyday!
1. Blend it in! Smoothies are a great way to incorporate more greens: add 1 fruit like blueberries or a green(ish) banana, 3-4 big handfuls of kale or spinach, protein powder or plain yogurt, and water or unsweetened nut mylk (avoid the added sugar from juice). 2. Warm it up! Winter is the perfect season to enjoy soups and chilli. Try adding finely chopped kale or spinach right at the end of cooking to add in those extra nutrients and fiber!
3. Make it a Rule: half your plate should always be veggies: salad, roasted or steamed! 4. Frozen is fine! If you're struggling with the selection of vegetables in the winter, reach for frozen! They are just as nutritious as fresh! 5. Need a snack? Reach for veggies first! Prep fresh veggies, and put them front and center in your fridge. I love the sweet crunch of snap peas, celery, cucumber or green pepper. 6. Make your pasta green! I love making pesto with fresh spinach or kale. My Green Monster Pasta is a family favorite in our house!
Green Monster Pasta Ingredients
½ package or 225g of whole-wheat, chickpea or brown rice pasta
For the Sauce*
2 cups organic baby spinach or kale
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup nutritional yeast OR shredded Asiago cheese, Parmesan, or aged white cheddar
¼ cup hemp seeds OR raw sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, pecans, walnuts or pine nuts
1 large or 2 small ripe avocado
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. cumin
½ tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Sea salt & pepper to tasted
Optional pasta additions:
Organic chicken meatballs (frozen section Superstore)
PC Free From Pork Sausages
Ground turkey or chicken (saute with onion, garlic and a splash of veggie or chicken stock)
Sliced black olives
Any other pasta topping that your kiddos like!
Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in your food processor or blender, and pulse until smooth.
Boil pasta according to package instructions, drain and rinse. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in sauce until everything is combined. Put on the stovetop on low heat to keep warm.
Pasta sauce keeps in fridge for 5 days or can be frozen for up to 3 months. *Notes: This recipe makes a lot! Sauce can be made ahead, and extra sauce can be frozen for another dinner! You can also use this sauce as a dip for raw veggies and whole-wheat pita!