The one thing you should do to better your health

Make this crunchy snack to boost calcium, increase fibre and keep you more regular.

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kale, greens, leafy greens
Photo, Getty Images.

I’m often asked, “If there’s one thing I can do to better my health, or one food item that’s amazing for me, what is it?” My answer is always greens! Most people simply do not eat enough green veggies. It doesn’t matter what your diet currently consists of: omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian (a little bit of this and a little bit of that) or raw foodie. Getting your greens is an important first step to optimal and long-lasting health.

Leafy green vegetables are one of nature’s richest sources of nutrients. Be sure to look beyond conventional greens like spinach and broccoli to get familiar with things like kale, collards, swiss chard, arugula and bok choy. There are many ways to work these veggies into your diet, and each one offers a unique taste and texture. Even if you have to sneak them into a smoothie I promise you that there’s always a way! Whether you’re following a vegan diet or just want to take your nutrition to the next level, greens should be an essential part of your day.

It’s very common to be overwhelmed when it comes to greens, so I suggest starting out with the basics. Pick one new green a week to “play” with until you’ve found a way for you and your family to enjoy it.

The number one complaint about greens (especially kale) is that they’re too bitter. However, once you find a way to incorporate them into a meal — whether they’re added to a smoothie, tomato sauce, chickpea stew, chunky vegetable soup, grain dish, or simply dressed with olive oil and sea salt — there’s no turning back. You’ll start to feel better, have more energy and you may even lose weight.

Experiment with nature’s emerald gems, have fun, and make sure you get your greens every day. Just remember that a meal isn’t a meal unless there’s something green on your plate!

Choose a leafy green like kale to:
1. Purify your blood, support bone health and reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer

2. Give your body an extra dose of much-needed calcium, magnesium, iron, antioxidants and fibre

3. Complement anything on your plate and instantly boost the nutrition of any meal

4. Make a super-healthy “chip” that kids and adults alike enjoy (see recipe below).

Zesty kale chips recipe
Ingredients
2 heads kale, washed and torn
¾ cup tahini
¼ cup tamari
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup water
1 clove garlic
1 lemon, juiced
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup of nutritional yeast or hemp seeds

Directions
1. Place kale in a large mixing bowl.

2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth, to achieve a thick consistency. You may have to add more water.

3. Pour over kale and mix thoroughly with your hands to coat it. Ensure that the mixture is really glued onto the kale.

If using a food dehydrator
Place kale onto a Teflex sheet, on top of a mesh dehydrator screen, and dehydrate for 6 hours at 115 degrees. You will need to use two trays for this amount.

Rotate kale occasionally to dry uniformly.

If using the oven 
Place on parchment paper on a sheet tray and bake at a low temperature for about 30 minutes or more.

Keep an eye on them and turn them often to make sure they dry evenly.

Read more: How to de-stem kale and clean leafy greens

Marni Wasserman is a culinary nutritionist in Toronto whose philosophy is stemmed around whole foods. She is dedicated to providing balanced lifestyle choices through natural foods. Using passion and experience, she strives to educate individuals on how everyday eating can be simple and delicious.