Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to get more greens in

red Swiss chard
Getting more greens into your diet doesn’t mean you have to eat a humungous salad every day (although this wouldn’t be a bad thing, really). There are a lot of other things in the produce section that qualify as “greens” other than your typical salad greens, such as bok choy, savoy cabbage, Swiss chard, kale, and spinach.

bok choy
I like to add some bok choy to a package of frozen stir fry vegetables when I’m making an Asian-inspired meal, or serve it steamed with simply a drizzle of sesame oil, minced garlic and salt, coconut aminos or soy sauce. 

Spinach can be made into a salad, mixed with other lettuce leaves, or sautéed in butter and garlic.

While many of these greens can be eaten raw, I prefer them cooked. Some of them can be a little tough, and cooking softens them up and makes them more easily digestible.

I recently whipped up some greens by mixing a bunch of red Swiss chard and a bunch of purple kale together and adding a few things I had to get rid of in my fridge. I like the bright colors of red chard, but you can easily use regular green chard and regular kale.

Greens are especially good with some kind of fat: like bacon, or if you’re a veg, then grass-fed butter. The fat really adds not only flavor but a mouth-feel that a green vegetable just simply lacks. And it likely helps increase the absorption rate of the greens as well.

These two greens are powerhouses of nutrition. Swiss chard packs a huge amount of vitamin A. Swiss chard is especially beneficial in the maintenance of bone health. Great source of antioxidants. Related to spinach and beets, Swiss chard helps prevents inflammation and promotes lung and digestive health.

Kale provides an excellent source of vitamins B6 and C, carotenes, and manganese.
High in vitamins A and C it is a powerful antioxidant too. Many experts consider 
kale to be the healthiest vegetable on the produce stand. It’s a cancer fighter 
and helps to control blood pressure.

purple kale
So, here’s what I came up with.

1 bunch purple kale
1 bunch red Swiss chard
1 medium sized onion, cut in half and then sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Bacon or butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon (if using butter)

Wash each leaf of kale and chard under cold running water. Dry off the leaves. Cut off the stems. Now if you want you can eat these too, but I find them a little too tough, even if cooked. I use my knife and run it along the stem, removing it easily, and then discarding it.

If using bacon:
Cut bacon slices into bite-sized pieces. Heat a large non-stick pan and add bacon, cooking until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and let drip on a paper-towel lined plate. Remove all but 1-2 Tbsp. bacon fat, to which you will add the dried, chopped leaves of both the kale and the chard.  Cook for a few minutes. Add the sliced onions and coat everything in the fat. Cook a few more minutes. Finally add the garlic. Turn heat down to a simmer and cover pan to steam vegetables. Total cooking time should be about 15-20 minutes, depending on how well cooked you like your greens. Season with salt and pepper.

Delicious with roasted chicken or pork tenderloin.

If using butter:
Add 2 Tbsp. of unsalted butter to a heated non-stick pan. When melted, add onions, chopped leaves and garlic, as above. Cover and cook for a total of 15-20 minutes. Finish off with salt and pepper and a few sprinkles of lemon juice to brighten the greens.

Good with grilled fish or chicken.

For more information on various leafy greens and their health benefits, click here.

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