March might be the only time of the year when you can fill up on green foods (beer, bagels, cookies) that have absolutely nothing to do with fresh, leafy greens. This year, why not use the traditional wearing o’ the green to remind yourself to add more skin-friendly greens to your diet? During a recent interview for my new book Eat Pretty, a reporter asked me for suggestions on how to make eating greens less, well…monotonous. Crunching the same salad or sipping the same green smoothie day in and day out is a snooze for your taste buds— and it means you miss out on the broad nutritional benefits you’d get from varying your greens a little more. Here are my suggestions for spicing up your greens, this March and beyond.
1. Build around (or over) them.
A filet of wild salmon, a few scrambled eggs— even a splurge-worthy helping of mac and cheese— look naked alone on a plate. Serve them atop a bed of greens and you have a fresh foundation that boosts the beauty nutrition in your meal, not to mention makes the whole plate more visually appealing.
2. Embrace bold flavors.
Kale, romaine, spinach— they may be green staples, but I’ll admit that they start to get boring when eaten too often. Branch out to boldly flavored greens, from bitter dandelion and endive to peppery watercress and mustard greens. Sometimes just a handful of bold greens can refresh a tired salad. Bonus: those bitter and spicy greens are powerful detoxers.
3. Sub them for bread and wraps.
This works best with wider, sturdier greens, from collards and kale to romaine and oak leaf lettuce. Ditch breads and wraps and stuff big leaves full of delicious fixings, from hummus and roasted veggies to avocado and grains.
4. Think seasonal.
Change your greens like you change your wardrobe— according to the season. In winter, your options are most limited, but spring bursts forth with leafiness from spinach, microgreens, watercress, dandelion greens— even the greens from radishes. Summer brings heads of fresh lettuce, and autumn is key for kale (and the greens that top fresh beets, and turnips). Rotate them throughout the year and you’ll block boredom.
5. Dress them up.
Whip up your best dressings and sauces and toss them with your greens (I share some favorites here)— why not create a different dressing for every day? Use the basics of olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice and vary the other flavors according to your tastes, from ginger to cayenne to garlic. The healthy fats in dressing allow your body to absorb the fat soluble beauty nutrition in your greens (from skin smoothing vitamin A to vitamin K, for the prevention of dark circles and varicose veins). Dressings are always healthiest when prepared fresh, so get confident making your own.
6. Sneak them in.
It’s hard to complain about greens if you don’t remember you’re eating them! While you can’t totally trick yourself if you’re prepping the meal, you can trick your palate by blending your greens into smoothies and pureeing them into soups, sauces and pestos.