Each week, our own fitness fanatics Leah Polakoff and Caitlyn Kronket will explore the latest workout crazes, diet fads and dish out tips for healthy living. Managing your schoolwork is tough enough- let us take care of your health.
Green is good – and not just in the reuse-and-recycle sense. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day this weekend, we’ve compiled a list of some of the healthiest and tastiest green fruits and vegetables. Yes, you read that right – green, yet tasty.
When paired with the right ingredients, going green doesn’t have to mean eating bland (despite what you may remember from your childhood). So go ahead, enjoy the Irish holiday this weekend. But when you’re finished with that Shamrock shake, give these guys a try, would you?
Who doesn’t love the sweet, juicy taste of green grapes? Not only do these tiny fruits provide a vast array of vitamins (C, A and K to name a few) and minerals (potassium and manganese), they pack a full gram of protein and fiber into just one cup. Recent studies also show that green grapes may help regulate insulin, thereby maintaining blood sugar levels.
Other than eating them plain, add a few to Greek yogurt or mix them into a smoothie. For an easy and healthy appetizer, spear them with a toothpick, top with goat cheese and sprinkle with walnuts. You can even add them to a cold salad of: chopped pecans, bow-tie pasta, broccoli, mayonnaise, sugar and red onion. Mmm, sounds grape, right?
As college students, our last-minute, on-the-go meals often include excess sodium (HotPocket, anyone?) To help combat the extra salt, try incorporating pears into your diet. These tender fruits offer a healthy dose of potassium, which helps regulate cell fluid levels (too much salt can often cause an imbalance). While most fruits are high in fiber, pears might just take the win with a whopping five grams in just one fruit.
Other than simply grabbing one on your way out the door, try making a simple salad of pear slices, cranberries, walnuts and feta cheese. If you’re craving something sweet, cut one into slices, warm in the microwave, sprinkle with cinnamon and top with yogurt for a healthy dessert. Sounds pretty pear-fect to us.
Move over oranges. With more than the daily-recommended allowance of vitamin C, kiwi just might be the new cold fighter. These furry fruits are also a good source of potassium, vitamin E, folate and fiber. They’ve also been known to help maintain eye health and benefit the cardiovascular system.
Just make sure they’re firm when you buy them – they’ll taste tart at first, but as they ripen they’ll sweeten. Try adding thin slices to a piece of whole-wheat bread with cream cheese for a nutritional breakfast, or toss them into a veggie smoothie to add some sweetness.
Whether it’s sliced on a Panini or mixed into guacamole, avocado is good in just about any form. High in monounsaturated fat, which is actually good for your body, avocado works wonders on your skin, hair and nails. Try using it to make chicken or tuna salad (the texture binds everything together without the saturated fat found in mayonnaise.) If you’re feeling brave, you can even use avocado as a baking substitute for fats like butter and Cisco. For a safer approach, simply add chunks to regular salsa and throw in a few black beans for a filling snack. Any way you slice or dice them, their creamy taste will have you saying avocad-woah.
One of the biggest benefits of Brussels sprouts is their bone-building vitamin K content. This particular vitamin is also instrumental in blood clotting (a necessary reaction for those measly paper cuts and razor scrapes!).
Not everyone enjoys these veggies plainly steamed, so try sautéing them with olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan cheese. You can also find simple recipes for baking them – just add a little cheese and a few breadcrumbs and you’ll be shouting for sprouts.
Technically a soybean, edamame is considered a “perfect protein” as it contains all nine essential amino acids. In fact, approximately 36 percent of each pod is composed of protein and yields 11 grams in just a half cup. Additionally, these green soybeans are a natural source of antioxidants, which helps maintain the immune system and prevent cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Edamame are also full of vitamins C, B and E and offer a healthy dose of minerals, such as calcium, iron and phosphorus.
Puree them into a dip (just add garlic, salt, rice vinegar and ginger), add them to an oriental salad, or simply steam and add salt for a quick afternoon snack.
Photo by Brittany Trappe