Eat Greener in 2017
Lots of people start the New Year with resolutions to eat healthier and include more veggies in their diet. But many people completely miss out on one huge opportunity for this- Breakfast! A favorite breakfast of many of the integrative practitioners I know is kale and eggs. In nutrition terms, it’s the “breakfast of champions”!
Yes, breakfast is an important meal and a great opportunity to incorporate vegetables. My breakfast each day alternates between a green smoothie and eggs with veggies. Usually I begin by sauteeing onions and peppers, adding chopped spinach, chard or kale and adding a crushed clove of garlic at the end.
Both onions and garlic support the immune system directly and indirectly. They are antimicrobial, killing bad bacteria in your GI system, but also providing inulin, a special soluble fiber that feeds the healthy microflora in your gut. Both peppers and greens are good sources of vitamin C, also important for immune health. Greens like spinach, kale and swiss chard contain carotenoid sources of vitamin A, another necessary immune nutrient. In addition, greens contain significant amounts of calcium along with other bone building nutrients like vitamin K, potassium and trace minerals. And let’s not forget, greens also supply Omega 3 fatty acids.
Kale is a very popular green veggie these days for good reason. Kale is the highest vegetable source of lutein, a carotenoid best known for its importance for eye health, offering protection against macular degeneration; but researchers are discovering that lutein may have many other lesser known benefits such as inactivating carcinogens, anti-inflammatory activity, antiviral activity and generally protecting cells from DNA damage. Kale is a cruciferous vegetable offering important detoxification activity due to it’s high content of sulfur compounds. We know that these compounds are generally protective against cancer.
I prefer spinach and swiss chard for smoothies, but chopped kale can be steamed or sautéed in the morning and added to eggs. You might like to steam the kale then top it with two over-easy eggs and maybe add hot sauce. Me? I like this recipe:
Kale and Eggs:
1 ½ cup chopped kale
½ small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
2 eggs, scrambled with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 T Parmesan cheese (optional)
In a ceramic non-stick pan add 2T olive oil, the kale, and a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Sautee’ on medium heat stirring continuously for about 3 minutes then add the onions , turning down the heat to low and cooking until both veggies are soft. Sometimes I find adding 1T of water and covering the pan helps to cook the veggies faster. When the veggies are done, turn the heat to medium-low, add the crushed garlic and quickly saute’ for a few seconds before pouring in the eggs. Scramble the eggs and kale together, and when the eggs are halfway done, stir in the Parmesan Cheese if desired. Cover the pan to finish cooking the eggs and cheese, then serve. I like to finish cooking it like an omelet, allowing the eggs and cheese to set, then folding it over and sliding it onto a plate. Serve with fresh fruit, or the French way….a little side of mixed greens with vinaigrette. Voila!
Lisa Murray RDN, LD