St. Patrick’s Day usually centers around corned beef and cabbage, shamrocks, leprechauns, and green beer. What a fun time of the year. Here are some tips for making St. Patty’s Day heart healthy for your family. You might learn an Irish jig found on a You Tube video, take the kids on a four leaf clover hunt in the park, or set up a scavenger hunt with a pot of gold. Try eating green.

Normal St. Patrick’s Day traditions aren’t designed around healthy eating, so it is especially important that our day-to-day routines encompass healthy habits. Green vegetables are the foods most commonly missing from many diets. Eating dark, leafy greens provides a variety of vitamins and minerals essential to proper nutrition.

Greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are loaded with fiber, and folic acid.

The nutrients they provide replenish our mineral stores which are used to fight conditions caused by environmental pollutants. If you are feeling sluggish, tired, getting more greens is the best place to start. You may even  see an improvement in your skin, eyes, hair and energy in addition to weight loss. It’s a win-win situation.

When choosing greens, think outside the box; there are so many greens to choose from aside from the usual broccoli and lettuce. Find options that you will enjoy and eat them often. Try these simple suggestions for an easy way to get more greens in your daily diet:

• Bake kale chips sprinkled with your favorite spices to munch on instead of potato chips.

• Snack on fresh, raw snap peas.

• Sauté bok choy in garlic, ginger and a little sesame oil as a side dish in your next cooked meal.

• Use green cabbage cooked or in the form of sauerkraut.

• Salads can contain a variety of ingredients. Instead of just lettuce, add arugula, spinach or mustard greens.

Rotate from among a variety of vegetables to make sure you get different nutrients and keep your taste buds entertained. Everyone deserves the numerous benefits that come from including greens in your daily diet. So grab a kale chip and begin on your journey to a healthier, more energetic you.

Karen Wiggins, LPN HWC

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