How often have you heard that mellifluous recommendation: eat dark leafy greens.
You know greens are an immensely powerful culinary Rx, right? And arguably the greatest longevity foods out there, exploding with disease-fighting phytochemicals? And that one of the single BEST things you can do to improve your health is to eat plenty of them? But… do you know how to cook them?
Ahhh … the great divide. On one side, greens. On the other side, you. The chasm seems as wide as the Grand Canyon. It’s a gulf desperately in need of a bridge. And yet, these voluminous jade nutritional behemoths can be incredibly intimidating to work with.
Where to start?
I suggest thinking of greens as the perfect foundation for a variety of flavorprints. The only way you’re going to eat greens regularly is if they fly you around the world. Good thing they have their pilot’s license!
No need to get bored with just one same old recipe! By working with different spices and herbs, greens become like a local tourist guide to a host of cuisines. These dishes reach across the globe: Latin America, the Mediterranean, India, and the Orient . . . they are as versatile as a Renaissance man at a cocktail party. Learn to work with them and I promise that great divide will exist no more.
Your travel guide in the kitchen: a culinary glossary of global greens!
With Latin American greens, it’s all in the seeds. In this case, toasted cumin and pumpkin seeds (aka, pepitas) along with a hit of lime juice give this kale a breezy, fresh Latin feel.
Here’s a classic sweet-and-sour taste with a mouth-watering, eye-catching twist. Tamari, ginger, and toasted sesame oil combine with lime juice to bring the Great Wall to your great room. And cabbage? That’s another super food that’s a must-have on the plate.
This meal in bowl is filled with fiber and protein from chickpeas and packs flavor that simply has to be experienced to be believed. Coconut milk, curry, turmeric…it’s all a tastebud blast with outrageous anti-inflammatory ingredients.
This is like a taking a two-week cruise around the isles: we go Greek with olives and feta, Sicilian with—surprise—currants, and we’ll give the Cypriots credit for the garlic and the mint. Plus a double dose of citrus in the form of lemon and orange zest.
And more ways to use greens!
Make ahead magic, and sure to become a family favorite. A frittata is an Italian omelet but, unlike the French version, you don’t have to figure out how to do that funky half-flip with the eggs in the pan. Frittatas bake, and in Italy they’re often eaten at room temperature: a great make-ahead, on-the-go food.
Here’s a recipe where, if it’s leafy and green, it’ll work. I use chard and collards, but kale or spinach would be brilliant too—in fact, put it this way: if you think Popeye would eat it, it’s in. The flavor enhancers are onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest, with a yellow potato thrown in for creaminess. It’s a smart, calming soup, with whichever cruciferous greens you use providing a ton of folate, which may help ward off depression.
No time to cook, but want to fit in some of those dark leafy greens? Think arugula. And with sweet dates, peppery arugula, creamy goat cheese, toasty walnuts, and sprightly mint, these flavors dance together like a dream!
The key to prepping greens: strip & rip!
Have you ever bought a beautiful bouquet of greens, only to have them turn into a science experiment in your refrigerator drawer? Perhaps you lacked the fortitude to wrangle them, and hoped they would make their way into your body through osmosis?
Here’s your simple solution: strip and rip. And yes, it’s therapeutic, too!
To recap: healthy attributes of dark leafy greens go on and on. You want to eat them as MUCH as you can. Daily would be good. And don’t just eat a little -- eat a lot! You will frankly be amazed. I always provide dark leafy greens daily at conferences I design food for, and I’m telling you, participants feel the difference within 48 hours! Their increased energy level and improved digestion and elimination are the most obvious blessings.
My last word: always accompany greens with healthy fats, because the star repertoire of phytonutrients and fat soluble vitamins (A & K) contained in dark leafy greens are best absorbed by the body via healthy fats -- olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, and butter.