Green vegetables are the foods most missing in modern diets. Learning to cook and eat greens is essential to creating health. When you nourish yourself with greens, you will naturally crowd out the foods that make you sick. Greens help build your internal rainforest and strengthen the blood and respiratory system. They are especially good for city people who rarely see fields of green in open countryside. In Asian medicine, green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity.
Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed with fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micro nutrients and phytochemicals. Whenever possible, choose organic. But eating non-organics greens is much better than not eating any greens at all!
Some of the benefits of eating dark leafy greens are:
-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
-Cleared congestion, especially in the lungs reducing mucus
There are so many greens to choose from. Find greens that you love and eat them more often. When you get bored with your favorites, be adventurous and try greens that you've never heard before.
Broccoli is very popular among adults and children. Each stem is like a tree trunk, giving you strong, grounding energy. Rotate between
bok choy, napa cabbage, kale, collards, watercress, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, dandelion and other leafy greens. Green cabbage is great cooked or raw, or in the form of sauerkraut. Arugula, endive, chicory, lettuce, mesclun and wild greens are generally eaten raw, but can be consumed in any creative way you enjoy. Spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens are best eaten in moderation because they are high in oxalic acid, which depletes calcium from bones and teeth, and may lead to osteoporosis. Cook these vegetables with something rich like tofu, seeds, nuts, beans, butter, animal products or oil. This will help balance the effect of the oxalic acid.
Try a variety of methods like steaming, boiling, sauteing in oil, water sauteing, waterless cooking or lightly pickling, as in pressed salad. Boiling makes greens pumped and relaxed. Boil for under a minute so that the nutrients in the greens do not get lost in the water. You can also drink the cooking water as a health-giving broth or tea if you're using organic greens. Steaming makes greens more fibrous and tight, which is great for people who are trying to lose more weight. Raw salad is also a wonderful preparation for greens. It's refreshing, cooling and supplies live enzymes.
When some people hear "leafy green vegetables," they often think of iceberg lettuce, but the ordinary, pale lettuce in restaurant salads doesn't have the power packed goodness of other greens. Get into the habit of adding these dark, leafy green vegetables to your diet. Try it out for a month and see how you feel.
A great additional resource for recipes and ideas is Greens Glorious Greens by Johnna Albi and Catherine Walthers.
Integrative Nutrition, 2010.