by Christine Hunt
Leafy greens are powerhouses of nutritional value. As one of the best low calorie foods you can buy, they fill you up, are a great source of fiber and contain high levels of anti-oxidants to help reduce inflammation.
At the top of the list of nutrients are vitamins A, C and K followed by folic acid, potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium. If you want to lose weight, stave off chronic disease or help your body heal, make greens a regular part of your diet since they contain a host of phytochemicals such as lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene. Studies have shown these phytochemicals help protect against cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, heart disease, stroke and reduce the risk of various cancers.
Green, leafy vegetables provide a great variety of colors from the bluish-green of kale to the bright kelly green of spinach. Leafy greens run the whole gamut of flavors, from sweet to bitter, from peppery to earthy. Young plants generally have small, tender leaves and a mild flavor. Many mature plants have tougher leaves and stronger flavors. Collards, Swiss chard, Bok Choy, and spinach provide a mild flavor while arugula, mizuna and mustard greens provide a peppery flavor. Bok Choy is best known for use in stir-fries, since it remains crisp, even when cooked to a tender stage. One should always choose crisp leaves with a fresh vibrant green color and the darker the leaf, the more nutritional value it contains.
Here is a list of greens you can include in your diet and some recipes to give you some ideas.
Turnip and Beet Greens
Red and Green Leaf and Romaine Lettuce
The simplest way to increase your intake of greens is with large salads. Make them more filling by adding lots of root and other raw vegetables such as radishes, jicama, beets, carrots, squash, celery peppers, mushrooms, olives, artichokes, avocados and others.
Use dressings with olive, avocado, grapeseed, walnut, sesame and other oils for added flavor and the right balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Add more flavor variety by using balsamic, red wine, white wine, or herbed vinegars. My favorite salad dressings are from Good Seasons. They provide the seasonings in a handy packet and you add the oil, vinegar and water. It’s fast and you can make any combination of flavors with oils and vinegars to suit your palette and your salad.
Enjoy the added vitality, sharper mental acuity and healthier looking skin that greens provide.
Think about adding greens to mashed or roasted potatoes. Combine them with corn, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, squash or any other vegetable. If using fresh or frozen greens, just add them toward the end of the boiling or steaming cycle so that they wilt just slightly, then season as you would the other vegetables. Using frozen greens speeds up prep time and are just as nutritious as fresh.
Swiss Chard with Shiitake Butter Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 4 servings
9 ounces Swiss chard, very thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups)
4 tablespoons (½ stick)unsalted butter*
4 fresh shiitake mushrooms caps, sliced; ¼ inch thick
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- In a large bowl, cover the chard with cold water. Swish it around to remove all of the grit, then lift it out into a colander. Repeat if the chard is very dirty. (Don’t spin it dry—you want the water clinging to the leaves.)
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Before the butter completely melts, add the shiitakes and thyme. Season with a little salt and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the chard. Cook, gently stirring occasionally, until just tender and wilted, about 4 minutes.
- Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are very tender and almost all of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
- Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook, stirring, until the butter melts and the greens are glazed, about 3 minutes longer.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
*Use real butter not substitutes or margarine. It tastes better, is less process and has better nutritional and good fat (if using organic or pasture raised butter) than substitutes. Also, vitamins A and K are fat soluble meaning that they need fat to be utilized by the body. So enjoy the real taste of butter.
Source: Food Republic
Stir-Fried Greens With Fermented Black Beans Recipe
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 4 as a side dish
9 ounces bok choy, spring greens or purple sprouting broccoli
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1-2 fresh red chilies, sliced finely, seeds in or out
1 tablespoon fermented black beans, rinsed and drained
1-2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- Quarter the bok choy, slice the spring greens or trim and divide the purple sprouting broccoli. Bring a pan of water to a boil and cook the vegetables for a couple of minutes, until just tender. Refresh in cold water and then drain.
- Heat the oil in a wok or large pan. Stir-fry the garlic, ginger and chili until you’re enveloped in wonderful smells – a matter of seconds, as you must not burn the garlic.
- Throw in the black beans and greens and stir-fry over a high heat for a couple of minutes, adding a tablespoon of water if the pan gets dry. Taste and season with soy sauce and sugar if needed. Serve at once.
Source: Food Republic
NOTE: Turn this into a filling main meal by adding brown rice, risotto, and/or your choice of meats or seafood. But make the greens the main part of the dish to boost your vitamin and anti-oxidant intake.
If you are tired of traditional tomato style sauces over pasta, try this healthy alternative.
Greens, Mushroom and White Bean Ragout
2 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 large white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup Marsala or red wine
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
12 ounces fresh mushrooms, button or wild or a mixture of both, trimmed and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium tamari
2 tablespoons whole spelt or whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added Great Northern or other white beans or 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound (1 to 2 bunches) dark leafy greens, such as collards, kale or mustard greens, tough stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Bring 3/4 cup broth to a simmer in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in wine, rosemary and thyme and cook about 2 minutes or until wine evaporates. Add mushrooms and reduce heat to medium, cover and cook 5 minutes or until mushrooms release their liquid and begin to become tender, stirring once. Stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together tamari, flour, nutritional yeast and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the hot broth to make a thick paste. Whisk paste into the simmering broth mixture, stirring constantly. Bring back to a simmer and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Stir in beans and greens, in batches if needed, cover and cook 5 minutes or until greens are wilted and heated through, stirring once. Stir in black pepper and serve.
Per Serving: 310 calories (10 from fat), 1.5g total fat, 170mg sodium, 54g carbohydrates, (17 gdietary fiber, 6g sugar), 17g protein.
NOTE: Serve this hearty and saucy combination of leafy greens, mushrooms and beans over whole grain brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Use 1 (16-ounce) package of frozen dark leafy greens instead of fresh greens for a quick shortcut. Also, for added nutrition, keep the pasta or rice to a minimum, no more than 1/2 a cup for rice and 3/4 cup for pasta. The idea is to get more greens into your diet, so make them the biggest portion of the meal.
Source: Whole Foods Market
Creamy Risotto-Style Brown Rice with Spring Greens and Asiago
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Serving Size: 4 -6
sea salt or kosher salt
12 ounces (about 12 cups)mixed spring greens, such as tatsoi, baby mustard greens, lamb’s quarters and arugula
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large bunch scallions or ramps (wild leeks), trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
3 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, preferably basmati (from 1 1/2 cups raw rice)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 ounces Asiago cheese, finely grated (about 1/2 cup), plus additional for serving
freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the greens and cook until they are just wilted, about 1 minute. Use a mesh skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer the greens to a colander and let cool slightly; reserve the cooking water.
- Press the greens to remove excess water, then transfer them to a board and coarsely chop.
- In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the scallions or ramps with the ginger, garlic, and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Stir in the rice, chopped greens, butter and 1 1/2 cups of the reserved cooking water and cook, stirring, until the water is almost absorbed, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve, passing additional grated cheese at the table.
TIP: Cook the brown rice following the directions for your rice cooker, or cook it on the stovetop: First soak 1 1/2 cups rice in 2 1/4 cups water with a pinch of salt for 4 to 12 hours in the refrigerator. Then bring the whole thing to a boil, add another 1/2 teaspoon salt, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently until the water is absorbed, 40 to 45 minutes.
Source: Food Republic
To your health!
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Christine Hunt is a Wellness Coach and Certified EFT Practitioner and has found that working with the whole person by combining mind/body work, dietary adjustments and movement provides her clients with the tools they need to lose weight (and keep it off), get relief from chronic illness and positively transform their lives.
Contact her for a free, 15 minute consultation to learn why what she does works when other methods have failed.
Christine works with her clients in person, by Skype or phone. So, if you live away from the Annapolis, Maryland area, she can still work with you.