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It's Time to Eat Delicious Greens

The greens that grow at this time of year are healthy and scrumptious. We suggest some recipes for using them.

This week I am going to talk about greens about three weeks earlier than I would normally be able to talk about them. But then I will probably spend the entire growing season catching up—thank goodness my food magazines all arrive about a month early, or I would really miss out on the timely new recipes.

We provide a handout at our markets in the spring and fall that provides basic instructions for cooking greens simply and quickly, and now I have another good one clipped and copied from the April Eating Well magazine that has good pictures and short descriptions of the different varieties. This page about kale has links to pages about chard and other greens.

I can wax eloquently about greens. I spent several years of my youth in South Georgia, where greens were treated with reverence—even if that did mean cooking the flavor out of them and substituting the smoky flavor of a ham hock. That was still good, but not nearly so fresh-tasting and flavorful as the greens cooked the way I and others now recommend.

We now have examples at the market of those early greens and some of the best baby kale I have ever eaten. A package that will easily serve three people costs $2.75; it has been prewashed and is so easy to prepare.

We also have chard, which has many uses in sides, salads and soups. Here is a good spring recipe for young chard. Don’t worry about separating the stems in young chard, though—just treat the soft stems as part of the leaves.

I want you to hear from an expert on the nutritional benefits of greens, which make them one of the most effective products in your preventive medicine pantry. Greens are essentially medicine on the plate, which of course is the case with all healthily prepared vegetables. Please learn from our friend and occasional speaker at our markets, Debra Dennis of Indigo Lifestyle Solutions, who works with clients who want to adopt healthier lifestyles, including changes in diet.

Green vegetables are the foods most missing in modern diets. Learning to cook and eat greens is essential to creating health. When you nourish yourself with greens, you will naturally crowd out the foods that make you sick. Greens help build your internal rainforest and strengthen the blood and respiratory system. They are especially good for city people who rarely see fields of green in open countryside. Green is associated with spring, the time of renewal, refreshment and vital energy. In Asian medicine, green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity.

Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Whenever possible, choose organic. But eating non-organic greens is much better than not eating any greens at all!

There are so many greens to choose from. Find greens that you love and eat them often. When you get bored with your favorites, be adventurous and try greens that you’ve never heard of before. Broccoli is very popular among adults and children. Each stem is like a tree trunk, giving you strong, grounding energy. Rotate among bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, dandelion and other leafy greens.

I hope that you will seek out greens to brighten your Easter feast this week and learn to eat them more often as part of a seasonal diet. They really are tasty!

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Michele April 11, 2012 at 09:53 PM
I grew up in NJ and never ate "greens" of any kind. Veggies, yes, but not greens other than in a salad. I would LOVE to be able to taste different greens, properly prepared, to know what my family may even consider trying. Do you have any recommendations?
Jean Janssen April 12, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Hi Michele -- try these sites: http://thesavvyreader.ca/2011/pan-seared-salmon-with-lentils-and-swiss-chard-recipe/ http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/kale.html http://smartmarkets.org/2011/11/guide-to-cooking-greens.html We have recipes for using seasonal veggies, including greens, at all of our markets. Our Centreville market will open May 4, or you can come to our markets in Bristow or Oakton in the meantime. See our website for more information: www.smartmarkets.org.
Michele April 12, 2012 at 01:32 AM
Yeah, websites do't work for me.... but thank you anyway. I look at pictures of green slime, and the last thing I think of is appetizing! And to top it off, my guys are very picky. I need to try something before even thinking of putting the energy into attempting to cook it. I have Fibro, and cooking is a chore to begin with. To cook something no one in my home will eat is not really an option... I wish there were real cooking classes around for people who want to cook healthy, gluten free food!

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