Saturday, May 24, 2008

What color is your salad?

Dark leafy greens season has started! This week, the Lower East Side CSA gets its first shipment - all greens. We’re getting Swiss chard, kale, Asian greens, arugula, baby tatsoi, pea shoots and spinach.

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 phyto-chemicals.
Benefits of eating dark leafy greens include blood purification, cancer prevention, improved circulation, a strengthened immune system, promotion of healthy intestinal flora, promotion of subtle, light and flexible energy, lifted spirit and elimination of depression, improved liver, gall bladder and kidney function, and cleared congestion, especially in the lungs.

If you are part of the CSA and want to know more about each of the vegetables we’re getting and how to cook them, I’ve started an e-newsletter just for you; look on the right side of this blog for a sign-up box. You’ll also find great tips on cooking for kids and info on upcoming workshops in the neighborhood.

OK, back to greens… you should eat at least one cup, once a day, every day. I’m not kidding – this is the food group that is missing in most of our diets. In fact, the first recommendation I make to all of my clients is to add greens to their diet. So now you’re thinking, “I eat a salad for lunch now and then, so that counts as one cup.” Nope. Sorry. It’s great that you’re eating salads, but it’s dark greens I’m talking about; the kind you have to cook. And yes, you do have to cook them; otherwise, you lose more minerals than you gain, and that makes for a negative balance.

Steaming is the best, as it preserves most vitamins and minerals, as well as some enzymes. When I’m in a hurry, I just fill a huge pot with water, let it come to a boil, add sea salt, rip the kale right off the stem and let it swish for two or three minutes. You don’t even have to wash it - it washes as it cooks. After a few minutes, I just scoop it out, top it with some butter and eat. It’s that quick. The key is not to drain, but to pull the green out of the water; otherwise you’ll get all the sand and dirt back on it.

If you have thyroid issues, don’t overdo it with the kale (not that most people have an issue with overdoing it with kale) as it contains goitrogens. These are chemicals that block the production of thyroid hormones and could cause further problems, so you should research goitrogens before making food purchases.

Try these recipes, especially if you are a dark green newbie. They’re really good.

Kale And Potato Spanish Tortilla
Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy With Garlic
Pear, Arugula, And Pancetta Salad
Chilled Sesame-Ginger Tatsoi

My friend Kira loves this Swiss Chard Recipe. I am going to try it this week.

The best cookbook I have ever seen on the subject is Greens Glorious Greensby Johnna Albi & Catherine Walthers. It has nutritional information, shopping tips, storage and preparation information, and lots of recipes. They tested each green side by side to learn which cooking techniques produced the best tasting greens.

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