Lunden Souza: Fitness

Lunden Souza: Go green in your diet with fresh veggies

Recycling, hybrid cars, solar energy, reusable grocery bags and paperless bank statements. A lot of people have become more environmentally friendly by adopting such things into their lives, and what an impact it has had. What about going green with your diet -- and by green, I mean green vegetables.

After taking a health and nutrition course in college and living with a good friend who's a professional in the health field, I've become infatuated with the role that colorful veggies, especially green ones, play in a healthy diet. They are high in vitamins A, C and K, folate, and minerals, including iron and calcium, and are an excellent source of fiber. I incorporate green vegetables into my diet every single day because of these benefits.

Spinach is at the top of my list of green vegetables. I put it in my egg scrambles, use it for salads, stir fry and even put it in my protein shakes. To most that sounds disgusting, but if put into a mixed-berry protein shake, the taste is masked. This is a good way for those of you who aren't fans of spinach to reap the "Popeye" benefits of this nutritious vegetable. There's a video on my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/ 123lunden) that shows me making this protein shake, and I assure you it is just as good as it looks.

Asparagus is right up there with spinach. I remember eating it all the time as a kid, but then I was unaware of the amazing benefits. One of my favorite ways to prepare asparagus is to wrap it in low-sodium, sliced deli turkey. I cook the asparagus first, on the grill or in the oven, spread Laughing Cow Light Cheese onto the deli meat, and then roll up the asparagus inside. To finish it off, I saute the wrapped asparagus in a pan (sprayed with nonfat cooking spray) for less than a minute to warm the meat and melt the cheese. Just writing about it makes me want to go to the kitchen and make it! I have made these as an appetizer for plenty of dinner parties, and it's always a hit, even with those who don't make a healthy lifestyle a priority.

One green vegetable I have tried recently is kale. I found a recipe online for kale chips and I have become addicted to them. First, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper so that the leaves don't stick to the pan. Take all the leaves off the stem and cut them into smaller pieces, about the size of a tortilla chip, and lay them on the parchment paper. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil (I aim for a little less than a teaspoon) on top with a little bit of sea salt. Bake them at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until you notice that the edges of the leaves are turning dark. They are even tastier dipped in hummus (I use the spicy variety) or with salsa or black bean dip.

I just recently moved into a house with a former co-worker and friend. The first two things I did was put a can for recyclables next to our trash can and stocked the fridge with fresh organic vegetables (green being a dominant color). It feels really good to do things that benefit the environment as well as your body.

This week, why don't you try to go green environmentally as well as nutritionally? Don't be mean. Go Green!

Lunden Souza can be reached at lundensouza@gmail.com.

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