Happy (almost) St. Patrick’s Day! I’ve always loved this day because a) it usually means spring is nearby (even though we just had a blizzard here yesterday…) and b) both my grandfather and my cousin have birthdays on either side of the 17th.
Although St. Patrick’s Day as we tend to celebrate it doesn’t reflect the nature of the holiday, I still have fun wearing green and enjoying green food. My mom’s side of the family is Scots-Irish which we like to recognize year-round. I also studied abroad in Ireland (Cork City) when I was in college, and that trip will always have a special place in my heart.
In honor of being Irish and loving all things green, today is a ‘green themed’ post.First, my favorite Irish Poet: W.B. Yeats. He fits the “brooding Irish” archetype and his poems often carry a tone of longing and loss, as well as a love for Ireland. My favorite poem is “When You are Old.”
My favorite place that I visited in Ireland was the Cliffs of Mohr (a close second was Galway). In fact, the Cliffs were used in the filming of the sixth Harry Potter movie when he and Dumbledore go into a cave to destroy a horcrux. That day was a highlight in my time there.
Moving on to present times, tomorrow marks 18 weeks of pregnancy, and Baby Z will be roughly the size of a bell pepper (for today’s purposes, I’m imagining a green bell pepper).And, since green foods are usually better for you (naturally green, that is!), here are some of my favorite greens and easy ways to add them to your diet:
Matcha: I’ll be honest, matcha powder kind of freaked me out a little the first time I saw it. It’s REALLY green, due to the high concentration of chlorophyll from the plant. I started drinking it because I’d heard it was a great supplement for supporting weight loss and boosting energy, but it does so much more than that! Matcha has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants out there, more so than Goji berries or blueberries. The weight loss comes from the detoxifying qualities, and even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, detoxing once in awhile is actually good for your body.
You can find matcha powder at most whole foods stores, and I have ordered some on Amazon too. If you’re not into drinking tea, you can add the powder to a smoothie such as this Banana Matcha Green Tea Smoothie.
Kale: By far my favorite smoothie ingredient, Kale is full of iron, fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. If I’m not drinking my kale, I’ll throw some in a frying pan with a little coconut oil and cook it for a little before adding it to whatever other veggie medley I have going on, and usually some eggs. If your anti-kale argument is that it’s weird and doesn’t taste like anything, try mixing it in (usually a little cooked otherwise it’s kinda hard to chew in my opinion) with something you already have going on. You can also try mixing it in with other greens, which is what happens here in Oh She Glows Chickpea Kale Caesar Salad recipe (I’ve made this for my family before, and it didn’t go uneaten!).
And, great news for those of you with a sweet tooth- you can make kale pancakes! I’ve done this before with a recipe I have since lost, but it was a favorite pre-20 mile run breakfast. This is a similar recipe with easy to acquire ingredients.
Spinach: Kale’s slightly more traditional cousin spinach has similar nutrient offerings but they’re less dense (meaning you’d have to eat a more to get the same benefits). But, like kale, it’s easy to integrate into something you already made, and has a friendlier texture, so I tend to eat it raw and it’s easier for “thrown together” meals. It also goes great in smoothies, you’ll get a similar green effect and lots of nutrients (just ask Popeye).
Lately, I’m loving these bars that use spinach. I found them at Walmart and Target carries the Larabar version with Mango Spinach Cashew, my favorite. There are lots of other flavors on the market, but I keep going back to the spinach! Larabars are one of my favorite forms of running fuel, too 🙂
Seaweed/Kelp: When we were kids, my cousins, brother and I would go down on the beach and play all sorts of games. One game was kind of like a food competition, and kelp tortillas was a common dish (filled with seaweed and seasoned with sand). I don’t recommend eating kelp this way.
In the heyday of my food/nutrient testing for optimal health, I decided to give kelp a try. You can buy lots of different kinds, I typically purchased Nori and dulse for my sea greens fix (in fact dulse is sometimes referred to as the “kale of the sea”). Iodine is one big reason these greens are so coveted- there aren’t many natural sources of iodine out there, which is why you see it in table salt. Our bodies need iodine to support our thyroids and thyroid hormone (interestingly, back in the day when obscure diseases were more prevalent, cretinism was usually found in people who lived in the midwest because they didn’t have access to seafoods with natural iodine-fun fact I learned from high school chemistry).
In addition to the delicious seafood salads you can order in some restaurants, you can find seaweed in many grocery stores (I got both kinds at Hannaford). Dulse is a good on it’s own snack, especially if you enjoy salty/savory foods, but sometimes I’d add it to a salad. Nori is what sushi rolls get wrapped in, but I typically take a sheet and tear it up, mixing it in with my salad (by now, it’s probably apparent that my salads are “anything goes”). This nori roll recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini is a triple green recipe (with cucumber and avocado), and is super easy to make.
Avocado: Tragically, where I live in Maine avocado is a bit pricey compared to what I hear people pay for it on the west coast, but it’s worth throwing down some extra money for. Avocados have healthy fats (monosaturated), fiber, potassium, and vitamin B6, all of which your body loves to have.
And avocados are good for so much more than guacamole (don’t get me wrong, I love some guac). They’re great simply cut up into salads or used in sandwiches/burgers, tossed into smoothies, blended into hummus, used in baking- there’s not a whole lot the avocado can’t do. Speaking of baking, this is complete news to me, but did you know that you can substitute butter for avocado?? It’s a real thing, and now I have to try it out for myself.
Unfortunately, green M&Ms don’t count as a “green food.”
What’s your favorite green food?
Have you ever been to Ireland? What was your favorite thing??–All of it. Take me back!
- Weekend Recap: Temporary Loss and a Few Gains
- Weekend Recap: Lots of Green and SPRING!