Want to reap the benefits of leafy greens and microgreens but haven't quite worked your palate up to them yet? How do you even hide green vegetables in your meals? Can greens help you to detox? Do greens promote weight loss? What is a microgreen anyway? What makes greens some of the healthiest foods in the world? What makes them a superfood anyway? We've got all the answers to your questions — plus our pro tips for sneaking leafy greens (and microgreens) into your diet so you can soak up those nutrients AND still enjoy your food.
Before We Begin: Get your Greens Delivered!
Sneak leafy greens into your diet, no cooking necessary! Get plant-based meals delivered! Healthy takes on comfort food classics, you'd never know they're loaded to the brim with immunity-boosting ingredients like dark leafy greens! Order the MamaSezz Ricotta Style Mushroom and Tomato Bake and just heat-and-eat this warming, creamy lasagna-style dish (that just so happens to have immunity-boosting kale and spinach hiding in plain sight!). Add to your MamaSezz plant-based meal bundle now.
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Microgreens are simply young greens. They are nutrient dense, powerfully healthy, and contain large amounts of immunity-boosting zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron, and copper.
Leafy greens are one of the healthiest foods on the planet, along with many other plant-based foods. But most of us aren’t eating enough of them! Whether you’re new to leafy greens or just trying to up your intake (and getting sick of plain ol' salad), there are plenty of ways to sneak your leafy greens and microgreens into your plant-based meals. And plenty of good reasons to do so, but here are the top 5 health benefits of eating leafy greens and microgreens:
1. Leafy Greens and Microgreens Boost your Immune System
Especially in the winter months (ahem, flu season), it’s important to eat plenty of foods naturally packed with Vitamin C. Not only does this super vitamin help protect your body against infection, but it also helps repair body tissue, form collagen, and maintain strong and healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron, which – SURPRISE – leafy greens are packed with as well!
2. Leafy Greens are Heart Healthy
Not only do these magical greens prevent against blood clots and heart attacks, the fiber content also helps regulate triglyceride and cholesterol levels. The iron (assisted by vitamin C), helps to transport oxygen around your body through your blood stream. The power tri: potassium, calcium and magnesium work together to lower blood pressure. Wow, what a plant-powered superfood!
3. Leafy Greens Promote Weight Loss and Healthy Digestion
Fiber, the wonder carb, aids digestion, and helps stabilize blood glucose levels in the body, preventing sugar spikes and crashes, and the production of fat deposits near the gut. Weight loss never felt so easy! Greens are low calorie, filled with this magical fiber, and very nutrient dense, so the more you eat the more weight loss you can expect to experience.
4. Leafy Greens Help You Detoxify
Chlorophyll, the reason greens are so, well, green, has a powerful neutralizing effect on toxins like aflatoxins, which are highly carcinogenic. Hello detox!
4. Leafy Greens are Great for Eyes and Skin
Beta carotene not only neutralizes harmful free radicals, but it benefits your eye health and skin health as well!
All of them! But in an effort to not overwhelm you, let's start with the basics.
The fancy green. Bite-sized, crisp, peppery. Great for salads or a delicious raw topping for plant-based pastas, pizza, and tacos.
The trendy green. Kale is earthy and tough. Often cooked in soups, stir-fry, and sautéed as a side. Because it’s a little bitter, kale works best in salads when it has been bruised, which you can do by roughly massaging it with your hands or briefly running it under boiling water. Baby kale is tenderer and is often eaten raw in salads.
The classic green. Tender, mild, crisp. Romaine is most often eaten raw in salads, but can also be grilled! Tear your romaine instead of chopping it to prevent bruising.
The MVP of dark leafy greens because it is essentially tasteless! If you’re not big on greens spinach is going to be your new go-to. It can be eaten raw in salads, cooked in almost anything, blended into smoothies, and it freezes beautifully. Before it starts to wilt in your refrigerator, place it in freezer baggies and use it for pretty much anything (but salads – you’ll want fresh spinach for those).
1. Add Raw Spinach to Your Smoothies
Although the chlorophyll may turn your smoothie green, adding 1 loosely packed cup of raw spinach per serving will not result in a flavor change, which is why smoothies are a great way to sneak in leafy greens. Here is one of our favorite (and delicious) vegan green smoothie recipes – made with just 4 ingredients!
2. Add Blended Spinach to Your Soup
Blend 1 cup of spinach with 1 cup of water (per 6 servings of soup) until smooth. Stir the mixture into your soup when you add the rest of the liquid.
3. Chop Spinach Finely and Hide it to Almost Anything
Add it to pizza sauce, pasta sauce, casseroles, stir-fry, lasagna, veggie burgers, and stuffing before cooking or baking. Keep a bag of frozen chopped spinach in your freezer at ALL times, and add it to anything and everything.
1. Use Romaine as a Taco Shell
Break off a crisp leaf of romaine — which should be shaped like a boat — and fill it with your favorite plant-based taco fillings like black beans, vegan walnut taco meat, seasoned rice, avocado, and diced tomato.
2. Use Collard Greens as a Wrap
Take a sharp knife and shave off the bulky part of the collard greens stem without cutting into the leaf, leaving the leaf flat on both sides. Run the leaf under boiling water (you can use a tea kettle for this), and pat it dry. This step will make the leaf less fibrous and more pliable. Then stuff if with your favorite sandwich or burrito fillings and wrap it up like a burrito! Try greens as the wrap for this maple tahini quinoa wrap recipe.
3. Use Iceberg Lettuce as a Bun
Next time burger night comes around, wrap your favorite vegan burger in a large iceberg lettuce leaf instead of sandwiching it between buns.
Once you begin to eat more greens, you might actually find that you can’t get enough! But let’s take it one step at a time…
- Start with spinach! It's got a mild flavor that can be easily disguised in most dishes
- Add leafy greens to your smoothie
- Add blended greens to your soup
- Chop spinach finely and hide in almost anything
- Use romaine as a taco shell
- Use collard greens as a sandwich wrap
- Try iceberg lettuce as a bun
Caroline is a plant-based chef, recipe designer, and whole food plant-based nutrition educator, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.