16 Leafy Greens Recipes You’ll Love + 5 Reasons to Eat Em’

You’ll love these leafy greens recipes, plus your body will thank you for eating them everyday. Yep. Every. Day. Here’s why…

If there’s one food I don’t have a problem with telling encouraging you to eat every day, it’s leafy greens.

Now, before you start rolling your eyeballs at me {Dad-I’m looking at you!}, please hear me out…

One of my healthy habits, is trying to eat one serving of leafy greens {almost} every day. I’m not asking you to do anything I wouldn’t personally do myself. 🙂

I know this may sound a little “woo woo”, but I really do feel better~more energized and alert~ when I include a daily serving of leafy greens in my diet.

LEAFY GREENS FOR EVERYONE!

In addition, no matter what type of diet helps you feel your best {i.e. Mediterranean, flexitarian, vegetarian, low FODMAP, vegan, low carb, paleo, etc}, leafy greens can fit right into your meal plan. Quite deliciously I might add!

And, while I’ll always encourage you to eat the rainbow, leafy greens are one of the most nutrient packed foods you can eat.

You’ve likely noticed many leafy greens taste slightly bitter. That’s a good thing!

Many leafy greens, including kale, arugula, collard greens, and mustard greens, contain glucosinolates. These are sulfur-rich (and bitter tasting) compounds that may lower your risk of certain cancers & may also help ward off intestinal, and other infections.

Note: Although I consider leafy greens rockstars in the nutrition world, there are 2 instances you should consult with your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist before eating them daily:

  1. If you’re on a blood thinner. Large amounts of leafy greens may interfere with blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) due to their high amount of vitamin K. You can still eat leafy greens, but your medicine dose may need to be adjusted if you eat large amounts~consult with your physician to find your optimal dose.
  2. If you have thyroid disease. You may have read that cruciferous vegetables {this includes some leafy greens such as arugula, bok choy, collard greens, kale, & watercress} release a compound called goitrin. This can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis, however this only is a concern in the presence of iodine deficiency. In addition, lightly cooking cruciferous veggies greatly decreases their goitrogenic effect, so you can still include them in your diet. No excuses.

Here are 6 reasons to get excited about eating leafy greens…

As I shared in this post, eating leafy greens {6 x week} is one of the best ways to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and boost overall brain health.

In addition to more traditional greens {kale, romaine, spinach}, have fun experimenting with other varieties including: Arugula, Dandelion Greens, and Watercress.

Brain boosting leafy greens…

No. 2 | Lower Your BP {Blood Pressure}

Leafy greens are a good source of potassium, which counteracts excess sodium, and helps lower your blood pressure. Potassium also helps relax your blood vessel walls, which further helps to lower blood pressure.

Choose these leafy greens which are highest in potassium: Swiss Chard, Spinach , & Bok Choy.

Leafy greens that help lower blood pressure…

No. 3 | Manage Your MTHFR with Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are a natural source of folate. You might need more folate to support methylation if you have a MTHFR gene mutation like I do. Methylation is complex topic, but, in a nutshell, methylation switches genes on and off, and helps repair DNA.

Did you know, approximately 30-50% of us {myself included} have a MTHFR gene mutation?

This means we may need to include more folate rich foods in our diet {vs folic acid, a synthetic form that is added to many processed foods}. Luckily, leafy greens are an excellent source of folate.

Health conditions that may be related to an MTHFR mutation include high homocysteine levels {which may be linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke}, recurrent miscarriages, and mood disorders including depression and anxiety.

Further research is definitely needed in this area, as many people with an MTHFR mutation won’t experience any symptoms. Read this article if you are interested in learning more about methylation & MTHFR.

Choose these leafy greens which are high in folate: Spinach, Romaine Lettuce, & Mustard Greens.

High folate leafy greens…

No. 4 | Protect Your Peepers

Leafy greens are rich sources of lutein and zeaxanthin. These two antioxidants that have been shown to reduce the risk of eye diseases including age-related macular degeneration {AMD} and cataracts.

Choose these leafy greens which are highest in lutein & zeaxanthin: Kale, Spinach, & Dandelion Greens.

Leafy greens for healthy eyes…

No. 5 | Build Up Your Bones

Not only are leafy greens a plant-based source of calcium, they’re also packed with vitamin K, another nutrient which can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis.

Choose a variety of leafy greens to help meet your calcium and vitamin K needs including: Collard greens, kale, and turnip greens.

Leafy greens for bone health…

And, to entice you to eat more leafy greens, here are 16 recipes I think you’re going to love!

16 Leafy Greens Recipes You’ll Love

Breakfast {Smoothies}

You may already know that I’m a fan of green smoothies. All four of these smoothie recipes made with leafy greens are a delicious {and easy!} way to start your day!

  • Pictured clockwise from top left: Fresh Pineapple Ginger Kale Smoothie at The Spicy RD
  • Green Avocado Peach Smoothie at Homemade Nutrition
  • “Starter” Green Smoothie for Kids at Real Mom Nutrition
  • Healthy Shamrock Shake-Green Smoothie at Emily Kyle Nutrition

Breakfast {Savory}

Green smoothies not your thing? That’s ok. We can still be friends. That being said, I LOVE gettin’ some green leafies in for my first meal of the day. Scrambled egg tacos w/ greens & feta are one of my go to favorites, but these 4 creative recipes above definitely take your leafy greens for breakfast up a notch!

  • Pictured clockwise from top left: Sunshine Savory Oatmeal w/ Egg, Arugula, Tomato, & Avocado at The Spicy RD
  • Kale Lentil Breakfast Bowl at Lively Table
  • Pretty Prosciutto & Spinach Egg Cups at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook
  • {Low FODMAP} Kale, Bacon, Tomato Egg White Omelet in a Mug at Kate Scarlata.

Lunch

Lunchtime is another great opportunity to get your daily dose of leafy greens. Try ’em stuffed into sandwiches, swirled into soup, or in one of these delicious leafy greens recipes featuring spinach, collard greens, baby lettuce, and watercress. Any of these leafy greens recipes would also make a delicious side dish!

  • Pictured clockwise from top left: Spinach, Mozzarella, Tomato, & Chickpea Salad at The Spicy RD
  • Easy Detox Collard Green Wraps at Hungry Hobby
  • Baby Lettuces, Blood Oranges, Quinoa, & Chickpeas at FODMAP Everyday
  • Winter Citrus Salad w/ Watercress, Fennel, & Pistachios at The Grateful Grazer

Dinner

Last call to get your leafy greens! {Unless you wanna’ eat them for dessert!} We’ve been doing a lot of spinach salads lately, because, gasp!, my kids seem to like ’em. For a really simple salad, I top baby spinach with pine nuts, feta cheese, and dried cranberries with my super simple Golden Balsamic Vinaigrette. How about trying some of these yummy recipes too?!

  • Pictured clockwise from top left: Spinach, Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Pizza at The Spicy RD
  • 5 Minute Cowboy Salsa Tacos w/ Arugula at Shaw Simple Swaps
  • Romaine Heart Wedge Salad w/ Greek Yogurt Ranch Feta Dressing at Hungry Hobby
  • Grits Smothered with Mustard Greens at Sharon Palmer RD

Resources | Learn more about the health benefits of leafy greens…

  • Leafy Greens: Nutrition Rock Stars | Food & Nutrition Magazine
  • 5 Reasons to Love Dark Leafy Greens | Eating Well
  • The 10 Best Leafy Greens | Shape Magazine

Let’s Chat!

  1. How often do you eat leafy greens?
  2. What are your favorite ways to eat/drink leafy greens? Do you have a favorite recipe? Share in the comments below!
  3. Did you learn anything new about the health benefits of leafy greens? Are you excited about eating leafy greens???

Hi There! I’m EA, a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) in sunny San Diego. I create easy, DELICIOUS gluten free recipes & low FODMAP recipes for a wide variety of diets: anti-inflammatory, low carb, Mediterranean, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, & more. I offer nutrition coaching for wellness nutrition, digestive health (celiac disease, IBS, IBD, SIBO), autoimmune disease, & healthy aging. Learn more about my nutrition philosophy and my nutrition coaching services, sign up for my newsletter, or get in touch~I’d love to connect with you!

Thanks so much for sharing!

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By Any Greens Necessary

Reviews

“Finally, a down-to-earth look at plant-based diets for the black community. will empower even the most staunch omnivore to re-evaluate their food choices and move towards a healthier outlook, not just for themselves, but for the planet.” —Melissa Danielle, coordinator, Black Vegetarian Society of New York (BVSNY.org) and Wellness Communicator (VegetarianHealthCoach.net)
“Even in the Obama era, Black women often believe that we lack choices, and control over our lives. By Any Greens Necessary reminds us that we have the power to make choices, and become heroes in our own lives through the choices we can make with regard to our food.” —Majora, MacArthur “genius” Fellow, host of The Sundance Channel’s Eco-Heroes and public radio’s The Promised Land, and urban revitalization strategist

“If there’s one health book black women should read this year, this is it. By Any Greens Necessary shows us the real deal about how to eat well and get healthy for life” —Tonya Lewis Lee, writer, producer, activist, and author, Gotham Diaries
“By Any Greens Necessary will change your life.” —Michael Greger, MD, author, Carbophobia: The Scary Truth About America’s Low-Carb Craze
“A fascinating read.” —The Root
“A necessary read.” —Curve
“The book’s anecdotes cross cultural and racial lines to deliver a pointed message … the author presents facts in an interesting, clearly understood writing style that encourages readers to ponder their food choices.” —Vegetarian Journal

Tracye McQuirter, a nutritionist, founder of the Black Vegetarian Society of New York, and author of Ageless Vegan says she has more energy now than she did back in college after going vegan in a new interview with Women’s Health Magazine.

Growing up, Tracye lived under a roof that adhered to a very health-conscious dietary regime. This meant no soda, chips, or sugary cereals, so when she went off to college, she binged on a bunch of junk food. Instead of veggies, Tracye munched on pizza, French fries, hamburgers, and dessert foods. By the end of her freshman year, she felt mentally foggy and had put on a couple extra pounds.

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The following year, Tracye had an “aha” moment after attending a lecture her sophomore semester. Dick Gregory, a comedian and civil rights activist, spoke at this lecture and discussed becoming a vegetarian, politics regarding food, and why low-income families often lack healthy options and are targeted for junky foods.

When Gregory began to trace the steps that it takes a hamburger to find its way on your plate, from a factory farmed cow, to the slaughterhouse, to the restaurant, to your mouth, to clogged arteries and heart disease, Tracye was shocked.

After a semester studying abroad in Kenya, Tracye took the vegetarian plunge after hearing both Gregory’s talk and watching a gazelle-like animal’s slaughter during her stay.

A few months later, despite her love for cheese, Tracye went vegan. She explains that within a few months she lost all the weight she had gained in college, she had a newfound sense of mental clarity, her energy levels skyrocketed, and her skin cleared up.

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She says that going vegan is not difficult at all and that it’s just like learning to ride a bike. It takes time to get comfortable with the change, but eventually, it is effortless. Not only has veganism opened Tracye up to healthier dietary choices, but to yoga and meditation as well.

Tracye McQuirter feels stronger and healthier at the age of 51 than she ever did in her early twenties while she was a college student.

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Want to eat like Tracye does on a typical day?

Tracye always starts her mornings with a tall glass of lemon water followed by a green smoothie. If you are inspired by her story, why not try out some of these recipes from our Food Monster App influenced by the dietary choices she makes on a daily basis.

Dandelion Green Smoothie

Start your day off the Tracye way with this Dandelion Green Smoothie. It is chock-full of essential vitamins and minerals and is refreshing at the same time.

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Avocado and Chickpea Spinach Wrap

Tracye explains that she usually makes herself a veggie-filled wrap (always with avocado) and usually pairs it with a hearty kale salad. This Avocado and Chickpea Spinach Wrap is fresh, a bit spicy, and the perfect lunchtime wrap.

Indian Quinoa and Chickpea Stir-Fry

For dinner, Tracye usually opts for a stir-fry. This Indian Quinoa and Chickpea Stir-Fry is a unique alternative to a traditional stir-fry and can be adjusted to your liking.

We also recommend downloading our Food Monster App, for quick, convenient recipes which is available for both Android and iPhone and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

Lead image source: By Any Greens Necessary

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THE EVENT

MahoganyBooks is excited to host author and educator, Tracye McQuirter, for an exciting author talk and book signing on December 14, 2019! Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Essence, Bon Appetit, Ebony, VegNews and the Huffington Post. She wrote the books, By Any Greens Necessary and Ageless Vegan.

Join us on Saturday, December 14, 2019 from 7:00-8:30pm to meet the author and to get the books autographed. This is a great Christmas or Kwanzaa gift for friends or family interested in healthy eating.

Note: Only books purchased from MahoganyBooks are permitted for signature.

THE BOOKS

“Ageless Vegan is a powerful argument for the ways that food is political. It also makes a strong aesthetic case for veganism.”– Natalie Hopkinson, Huffington Post

AGELESS VEGAN

Ageless Vegan, talks about the personal joys and challenges of going vegan, the break down the basics of nutrition, how to build a vegan pantry, and how to make sure you’re getting the best nutrients to promote longevity and prevent chronic disease.

“If there’s one health book black women should read this year, this is it.” — Tonya Lewis Lee, producer and coauthor of Gotham Diaries, and with Spike Lee, Please, Baby, Please

BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY

By Any Means Necessary shares more than forty delicious recipes with color photographs. Decades of studies show that many chronic diseases affecting the African American community can be prevented and even reversed with a plant-based diet. 

THE AUTHOR

Tracye Lynn McQuirter, MPH

Tracye McQuirter was named a national food hero changing the way America eats for the better by Vegetarian Times. Her first book, By Any Greens Necessary, established her as one of the most influential vegans in the country. Tracye directed the nation’s first federally funded vegan nutrition program and was a nutrition advisor for the Black Women’s Health Imperative. As an adjunct professor at the University of the District of Columbia, Tracye designed and taught a plant-based nutrition curriculum for the District of Columbia Public Schools System to help prevent and reverse childhood obesity in Washington, DC. She recently created the first-of-its-kind, free African American Vegan Starter Guide in partnership with Farm Sanctuary.

“This is my passion and my life’s work. I truly believe that being vegan is all about practicing love, freedom, and joy—not deprivation.” – Traceye McQuirter

Dark leafy greens recipes

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