Glorious Greens!

March 31, 2010

Courtesy of sweetonveg from Flickr

Spring is finally here! And, in my opinion, there is no better time to talk about the importance of dark, leafy green vegetables. This is one of the first things I work on with my clients, and they are always amazed at how much easier, tastier, and less expensive it can be to include them in their diets than they ever imagined.

Leafy greens are some of the easiest and most beneficial vegetables to incorporate into your daily routine. Densely packed with energy and nutrients, they grow upward to the sky, absorbing the sun’s light while producing oxygen. Members of this royal green family include kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula, dandelion greens, broccoli rabe, watercress, beet greens, bok choy, napa cabbage, green cabbage, spinach and broccoli.

How do greens benefit our bodies? They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous and zinc, and are a powerhouse for vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Their color is associated with spring, which is a time to renew and refresh vital energy. In traditional Asian medicine, the color green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity. Greens aid in purifying the blood, strengthening the immune system, improving liver, gall bladder and kidney function, fighting depression, clearing congestion, improving circulation and keeping your skin clear and blemish free.

Leafy greens are the vegetables most missing from the American diet, and many of us never learned how to prepare them. Start with the very simple recipe below. Then each time you go to the market, pick up a new green to try. Soon you’ll find your favorite greens and wonder how you ever lived without them.

Sautéed Kale with Pine Nuts and Raisins:
Yields: 1-2 servings

1/8 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, diced
1/2 bunch kale, chopped
1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1/3 cup raisins

Directions:
· Toast pine nuts on a cookie sheet in a 325-degree oven for 3-5 minutes. Careful to watch them until you figure out the right time for your oven – nuts can burn quickly and you don’t want them to turn black! Set aside.
· Heat olive oil in sauté pan.
· Add garlic and sauté for 15 seconds.
· Add greens, sea salt and raisins. Stir and cook 5 minutes or until greens are bright and just wilted.
· Turn off heat, add in pine nuts and transfer to serving dish.
· Note: You can try this recipe with any leafy green you enjoy, or try a mixture of different kinds as well!

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