The world around us still looks pale and meek, dressed in the browns and yellows of winter. But inside the seemingly dead fields and forests the secret stirrings of spring have begun. It is like this for us too. Creatures of midwinter, we have been hunkered down next to fires and under blankets, eating the comfort foods of winter. And inside our bodies the cravings for the fresh flushes of chartreuse and dark greens stir as well.
This is the time of year of the Liver in Chinese medicine, which is associated with all shades of green. We are moving from the elemental season of water into the season of wood. And so, we naturally start turning our palates towards green and woody foods. Asparagus and fiddleheads are the most delicate of spring greens, but all green leafy vegetables are beneficial at this time of year.
|Types of dark green leafy vegetables:
Tips to remember with leafy greens:
- You’ll absorb more nutrients from your vegetables if they are eaten with a little fat (if using flax seed oil for omega 3 add to your greens after cooking.)
- Steaming is the best nutritional option for cooking vegetables.
- Sautéeing or stir-frying your vegetables is another quick and easy method. When stir-frying, start with 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp water or broth. Frying with just oil causes the oil to burn and oxidize quickly, increasing free radical production and potential damage to your body when you ingest it. Adding water keeps the oil at a lower temperature so oxidation is reduced.
- Coconut oil is the best oil to sautée vegetables in as it has a very high melting point so the above oxidation can be avoided even without water. It also adds a yummy light yet rich flavor.
Do you have trouble getting enough leafy greens into your day?
Here are a few suggestions to boost your daily intake. One serving is equivalent to: 1 cup raw greens, or 1/2 cup cooked greens. Aim for 3 servings of greens daily, 5 days a week in spring.
Remember variety is the key – don’t stop at just one vegetable at dinner. Include salad or steamed greens every day, and at lunch and dinner make sure there are 2 green vegetables on your plate at once.
- Eat a small salad with eggs and toast
- Add chopped fresh kale or swiss chard to pasta sauce
- Pile baby spinach leaves and watercress on sandwiches
- Sautée red or green chard in olive/coconut oil with onions/garlic
- Steam mixed kale, chard and dandelion and serve with pesto
- Bake rapini with eggplant in rich tomato sauce or in lasagna
- Stir fry leafy greens with leftover rice with a sauce of vegetable stock, white wine and mirin (Japanese sweet brown rice condiment), and a little wheat free tamari
- Top steamed vegetables with miso tahini sauce: Combine 2 tsp miso, 1 tbsp tahini, 2 tsp tamari and thin with hot water to make a sauce
- Mix up your salads: use arugula, watercress, radicchio, shredded cabbage…. I like the Herb Spring Mix for more flavors.
- Use your favorite salad dressing over steamed bok choy, collards and broccoli
- Add warm steamed veggies, dried currants and toasted walnuts over any salad
- Mix sesame oil, 1/4 cup orange juice and tamari with with 1 tsp cornstarch, and add to any greens stir fry. Serve over short grain Ludenberg brown rice.
- Mix dash of olive oil, garlic, lots of chopped greens (and other veggies), a small can of plum tomatoes, basil and oregano, some crumbled feta or goat cheese, and black olives
- Add arugula, diced raw peppers, celery, and red onions to a can of chick peas, with your favorite vinaigrette for a lunch or side dish
- Add chopped tomato, any tender dark green leafy veggie like spinach or watercress, and asparagus to your scrambled eggs or omelet at breakfast
- Veggie pizza – top a spelt (or other) crust with tomato sauce, and add a thick layer of kale, drizzle flavored olive oil, and top with mozzarella and goat cheese before baking
- Instead of bread, eat hummus or other dips with raw broccoli
- consider raw green smoothies for breakfast! Fruity, green and delicious. See www.rawfamily.com
Dark Leafy Greens are high in fiber, which improves bowel health. The greens are rich in chlorophyll, which detoxifies your intestines. And, the spicy and bitter greens also improve digestive function by increasing the flow of digestive juices improving heartburn, constipation, gas and bloating. Broccoli, kale and bok choy also improve the livers detoxification abilities, which creates a better hormonal balance and can ease PMS. During these next 3 months, consciously increase your leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables to get your own juices flowing, and feel your energy levels and digestive function spring into health!