March 30, 2015
For those who are lucky enough to have a green house, you may already be well into “greens” season, enjoying kale, collards or even arugula. Even those of us who don’t, spring is in the air and early greens could be considered a treat for the less than stellar ski season! Dark leafy vegetables seem to get a lot of nutrition attention, and for good reason. They are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet; high in antioxidants A & C and bone -building nutrients K, D, calcium and magnesium. No wonder Popeye got so strong from eating spinach!
download showboxIn addition to the vitamins and minerals mentioned, green leafy vegetables are also rich in phytochemicals. “Phytochemicals” or “plant-chemicals” are the active constituents of vegetables that give them an additional “health bonus”, like amplifying detoxification pathways, decreasing blood pressure or scavenging free radicals. Green leafies have the ability to ‘hide’ other pigmentations behind their green pigment, chlorophyll, disguising the many pigments they contain. Think of it like a leaf in fall – as the chlorophyll drains from the leaf, it reveals it’s yellow, orange or red pigmentation. So when you eat something green, you are getting a dose of lycopene (what makes tomatoes red) and beta-carotene (what makes carrots orange) and much much more!
When you eat greens, you are eating the rainbow, which is why greens are an essential part of a balanced diet.
Massaged Kale Salad
Show up to your next dish-to-pass gathering with this salad in tow and you’ll be sure to persuade even the biggest skeptics that ‘kale is here to stay’. It’s a delicious way to showcase a food that not too long ago was only used to DECORATE the salad bar at Pizza Hut.
1 bunch curly kale
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red or green onion, minced
1/3 cup dried cranberries (juice-infused)
1 small apple, diced
1/3 cup sunflower seeds (roasted or raw)
1/3 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
- Make an “ok” sign with your thumbs and forefinger and gently strip away the leaf from the stem. Thoroughly wash kale and spin or pat dry.
- In a large mixing bowl, tear into small, bite-size pieces and sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil. Massage kale with your hands for 2 minutes – no less. (Imagine massaging someone’s shoulders – not too hard but with some confidence.)
- Toss remaining ingredients in bowl with kale and dress with vinegar. Taste – add more salt or vinegar as needed.
Chicken Collard Wraps
Looking for a creative and delicious way to fit collard greens into your diet? Blanch to soften and stuff with your favorite sandwich or burrito fixings in place of a tortilla or bread.
1 bunch large-leaved collard greens
2 cups shredded chicken breast
¾ cup European style whole-fat plain yogurt
½ cup grapes or sweet apple, diced
¼ cup celery stalks, minced
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
- To blanch the collard greens, dunk each one in a boiling pot of water for approximately 60 seconds. Gently remove with tongs and set on a plate to cool. Continue to do this until all of the greens are blanched.
- While water is boiling, in a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and stir. If you are using Greek yogurt, you may need to add olive oil, vinegar or mustard to get the desired consistency.
- On a cutting board or other flat surface, scoop ¼-½ cup of chicken salad onto the stem-end of the collard leaf and roll, tucking sides as you go.
Article and recipes by Darci Barman, MSN, RDN, LD, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist practicing “foods-first”, integrative and functional nutrition atPilgrim’s Wellness Clinic inside Pilgrim’s Market in Coeur d’Alene, ID. For more information, see www.darcibarman.com