Greens Glorious Greens

by lydia on February 6, 2012

I have an affinity for deep green leafy vegetables, especially in the winter. Lately, I’ve been downing them by the bucket full. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I can seriously chow down on my greens! I find that my body craves greens and it’s no wonder why. Dark, leafy greens pack a nutritional punch that’s hard to beat. They are some of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Loaded with calcium, folate, iron, vitamin K, potassium and other minerals the body needs as  well as carotenoids. The nutrients available through greens are easily assimilated and more ready to absorb than through supplements. It’s no wonder Popeye downed his spinach!

Greens are also very alkalizing to the body. So eating lots of greens can help to keep overall pH of the body normalized. Greens include; beet greens,  bok choy, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, pac choi, swiss chard, spinach, tat soiand turnip greens. It is important to purchase organically grown greens to avoid high-nitrate commercial fertilizers. It is also helpful to know that greens should be cooked or fermented if you have any kind of thyroid issues. The more tender of the greens, such as spinach, tat soi and pak choi can be enjoyed raw as well as cooked. Chard and beet greens, if young can also be eaten raw if desired, though the stems should be cooked. As for the tougher more hardy greens like collards and kale, you will need to cook them thoroughly in order to make them digestible.

Ways to cook greens are steaming, parboiling or sauteeing. Always remove the rib of the hardier greens, chop and cook them with whatever cooking method you are using. Greens should turn bright green when they are cooked. Don’t cook your greens to the point that they begin to turn gray. Greens also love acid, such as citrus juice or some vinegar. This helps to bring out their flavor and color! Also be sure to pair your greens with fats to help assimilate all those wonderful minerals!

I love my greens with breakfast, served with some fried eggs up on top! I love to let the yolks run all over the greens and coat them with flavor and even more nutrients! Yum! A simple way to have some greens at your ready each day, is to cook up two large bunches of greens by steaming them at the beginning of the week. Then each day you can take some out and quickly saute them to warm them and serve them with your breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or even throw some in soups. I try to have greens in all my soups if possible! Crispy kale chips are a fun way to get kids to try some greens as well!

Here’s a wonderful recipe for some greens using kale and swiss chard;

Winter Greens & Bacon

Serves 4

4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips

1 pound kale, ribs removed, leaves torn into 2 inch pieces

1 bunch Swiss Chard, ribs removed, leaves torn into 2 inch pieces

3/4 cup stock (whatever kind you have on hand is fine), or water

2 teaspoons raw apple cider vinegar

Coarse salt & freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside. Leave fat in the pan, add the greens and saute for several minutes. Add the stock or water, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until greens are wilted and almost all the stock or water has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Remove greens from heat. Stir in vinegar, and season with salt & pepper. Toss in bacon. Serve warm.

For more recipes using greens, check out my Recipes page! The Beef & Beet Green Stew is particularly comforting in the winter months!

What is your favorite way to incorporate more greens into your regime?

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