Search This Blog

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Eat your Greens!

Did you know that most americans don't eat nearly enough green vegetables? I never did until I made a more conscious effort to eat them. We all probably know they have massive amounts of vitamins and minerals in them, add much needed fiber, and iron, and are a super food. I try my very hardest to eat 2 servings of something deep green every day. The health benefits are amazing and once you acquire a taste for them-- they really grow on you. So I thought I'd share a few of my favorite ways of eating them. Like most changes in our diets- once you learn a few good ways of preparing something it's fairly easy to add them to the normal rotation. Most greens can be fairly easily interchangable.. don't have spinach, use chard, no chard, try kale! And keep in mind too that other dark green vegetables have many of the same benefits that the dark leafy greens have-- things like broccoli, asparagus, green beans, and all kinds of cabbage are all terrific add ins if you just can't quite make the leap to leafy greens yet.

Braised Chard

Braising is simply a method of cooking something:

The idea is that you start off with a small amount of oil ( I use olive oil), in a large flat plan (skillet), add your ingredients to be braised, cook them for a short period of time and then add a small amount of water and a lid and steam them to finish cooking. My favorite way of braising chard involves a bit of wine as the liquid (I use a white wine, cause that is usually what I have on hand), and some red onion. The wonderful thing about Braising when done properly is that it leaves some texture in the greens, so you aren't eating squishy, slimy greens-- they still have some crunch to them and a much nicer mouth feel. One other thing about braising is that it can be done lightning fast! You could do spinach or other greens this same way too.

Here is the basic recipe:
1 bunch of fresh chard, stems removed and discarded and leaves chopped coarsely (2 inch squares?)
2 slices of red onion thinly sliced, or diced, whichever you prefer
1 T. olive oil
2-3 Tablespoon of cooking liquid ( this can be bone broth, wine, water)
salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet cook the olive oil till hot then add the red onion on medium low heat, once onion is mostly softened add chard and stir while cooking for about 2-3 minutes, Add liquid and salt and pepper, then put a lid on the chard and cook on low for about another 2-3 minutes.

Creamed Spinach

This one is a food network recipe I've taken and made my own. This was my gateway dish to greens...It is one of the first ways I learned to make spinach that appealed to the family and while it's more work that I usually like to spend on a side dish it makes a large batch so I usually make it into a few smaller containers and then freeze what I don't use that night for the family. *for best results freeze without baking and without the crunchy onions and to reheat- thaw, top with onions and then bake.

And if the crunchy french fried onions don't make the nutritional cut for you-- originally when I made it they did, but now that I've looked at the ingredients-ick! Hydrogenated oils, nasty sugars, etc... It's really good with a carmelized onion on top or roasted onion rings on top. To save dishes and a bit of work-carmelize the onion for the top first in the same skillet you use to start the recipe in , then set those onions aside till the end.

Oh -- and I never use the amount of chili flakes she calls for I think that 1/4tsp to 1/2 tsp is just fine!

Pasta with Chard

The folks over at Earthbound Farms have several recipes on their website for Chard -- but I've tried this one and know it's good. When we made it we left off the pine nuts (allergies) and added a pound of cooked italian deer sausage.

Green Soup with Ginger

Heidi at 101 Cookbooks never fails to create something that is completely different and unique and yet tasty to boot!

I blended mine in the vitamix and I did remove some of the peices of ginger before doing so -- (In the past I've made soups using ginger chunks, they tasted fine when you ate them chunky, then once you blended that ginger up it was well-- nasty!) Allthough I don't think this one would be too strong if you left the ginger in it. I also made mine with beef bone broth instead of the vegetable broth as part of the bone broth challenge. I liked mine with a bit more lemon juice this morning and a drop or two of tamari. The ginger was soothing to my morning pregnant belly and I got my daily bone broth and my daily greens!!

Auryvedic Spinach with Red Onions, Shoyu and Balsamic Vinegar

A while ago in my boredom I checked out about a dozen cookbooks from the library and in one Auryvedic cookbook I found this great recipe for Spinach. It's nothing fancy the flavor combinations are so different and savory that I have to share it with you. It's so simple I didn't write down the recipe which is a shame because it was perfect.

Basically in a skillet you cook a handful of red onion, diced in a couple of T. of olive oil. Then add in as much spinach as will fill the large skillet, salt and pepper it lightly, and stir it until the spinach is lightly cooked but still has some decent texture. Then you add a tiny bit of shoyu or tamari or soy sauce if you don't have shoyu or tamari sauce, and the same amount of good balsamic vinegar, sprinkle with some coarse celtic sea salt and serve! It's truly one of my favorite ways of eating spinach.

speaking of Balsamic vinegar.... it pairs so nicely with spinach that I can't leave my favorite salad recipe out.

Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinegar
The paragraph above the recipe for the Balsamic Vinagrette outlines my favorite spinach salad here:

And of course there is

Kickin' Coconut Chicken Soup

Green Chicken with Cheese

2 cups of cooked chicken ( I make huge batches of chopped, cooked chicken and keep them in the freezer for this and other recipes, so I always have them on hand.)

1 large bag of fresh spinach

1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese

Grease a 9x13 baking dish with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle the chicken on top, add the cheese to the top of that and bake in the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted.

Green Smoothies

This isn't so much a recipe as it is one more way I get greens into my kids. I call them monster smoothies and at first when they are getting used to them I didn't use alot of spinach in them because to be honest I was a bit fearful of ruining a good thing! But I'm continually amazed at how much green stuff I can fit in these and still have them be palatable. If the color bothers you--get a dark colored cup and a lid so you or the kids don't see it-- you will never know the difference.

In mine I put whatever I can find in the fridge -veggie wise, zuchinni, cabbage, believe it or not lettuce works, carrots add sweet-but you need a pretty serious blender to really deal with them well, cucumbers, avacadoes-(good fats), a handful of spinach, kale, or chard, tomatoes and a peice of two of fruit- pears are great, berries are good, kiwi, banana, pineapple chunks, frozen or fresh, you get the idea. Then I add a little bit of liquid, usually coconut milk since I'm not currently eating dairy, you could add unsweetened plain yogurt or cows milk, or apple juice is usually what I have on hand. Then I add raw, fresh eggs- 1 or 2. Or some protien powder, a drop or three of stevia liquid, some Chia seeds, my vitamin D liquid, and some liquid trace minerals I have. Often times if I'm feeling super hungry that day I will add in some melted coconut oil too to this.
If you want to do just the veggies, fruit and juice or milk, that's fine too. The idea is to get the veggies into your body-- so I suggest start small, less veggies and work your way up as you get used to the idea of a green smoothie-- even though it normally doesn't taste like vegetables if you make it you know what is in it and I feel like when I first started doing it there was a bit of a learning curve with my mind telling me it didn't taste good -- or was weird, and really if I closed my eyes and forgot it had cabbage and spinach in it.. it tasted fine, it was a kind of a mind game. - sort of like eating liver-- I know I like it, when it's fixed in the many ways I like, but my brain still objects to eating something that is supposed to be yucky tasting.. weird what our cultural norms will do to our food tastes.

No comments: