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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PattyLA February 6, 2012 at 11:36 am

I love greens too but I learned the hard way that someone with a leaky gut needs to use some caution with the greens that they choose because of their oxalate content. Spinach and Chard are off the menu for me but Arugula, Turnip greens and Mustard greens are absolutely included on a regular basis in my families diet.

You can read more about oxalates here.

Funny story my oldest was just a toddler when we were out at Cracker Barrel trying to figure out some real food to order for her. She loves greens so we ordered those. The waitress called over her fellow wait staff to see a little kid eating greens. They thought it was amazing. She thought it was delicious!

lydia February 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm

That makes sense Patty. Though I thought cooking them was enough to counteract the oxalates. I usually cook them in broth too, with the thinking that will help with the gut! I will head over and read your post now!

That is too funny about the waitress marveling at your daughter!

PattyLA February 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm

boiling and discarding the cooking water will lower the soluble oxalates in foods. However not all oxalate is soluble and lowered and low are not the same thing. If you cook in broth and keep the broth you are keeping the oxalates too. Spinach is extraordinarily high in oxalates and even a tiny serving is far more than is allowed on a low oxalate diet in an entire day. Oxalate should stay in the gut and not be absorbed by the body in any significant amount but when the gut is leaky that barrier is not there and the oxalate will be absorbed in a much higher amount than the body can easily deal with. This leads to the body storing this oxalate and having to detox it later, when less is coming in. This is why some will feel better on a higher oxalate diet and worse on a lower oxalated diet. As long as the body is in storage mode you don’t have a lot of symptoms. The problem is that it is still toxic to the body and eventually your storage will get full and you will have to “dump” all of that stored oxalate and get it to leave the body. That is when the real problems start.
I managed to give myself a kidney stone when I added spinach to my daily eggs to make them healthier. I already had vulvar vestibulitis but my Dr’s had no idea what caused it so we tried various treatments that didn’t work.

lydia February 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm

This is making me think – thanks for sharing that Patty! I don’t eat spinach all that often maybe twice at week at the most and never continually. Same with chard. I do have some level of leaky gut so I will keep this in mind.

Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} February 7, 2012 at 7:15 am

LOVE my greens. I miss spinach, but I’ve been enjoying swiss chard. I sauté it for dinner, and then I throw the leftovers in my eggs the next morning. YUM.

Anya (@MyGardenHaven) February 18, 2012 at 4:58 pm

That brings up a good point about green smoothies. I use a lot of kale in my green smoothies and am trying to have one a day.

Is there a problem consuming kale raw that you know of?

Thanks! Well written!

lydia February 18, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I personally wouldn’t eat kale raw, and I certainly wouldn’t do it every day. Especially if one had any kind of thyroid issues. I would always cook them or ferment them and probably serve them with some kind of good fat to be able to utilize their minerals! I know the green smoothie thing has been popular for awhile, and this is something to certainly consider. Maybe you could juice them once in awhile, but I certainly wouldn’t consume raw kale regularly.

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