…or so says the beloved muppet, Kermit the Frog, in his famous song. However, I’m here to tell you that it is easier than you may think—well, not BEING green, but EATING green!
I mentioned in my last post that I have been sampling healthier foods, to include various dark, leafy greens. I’ve known for years that dark, leafy greens are good for me; we all know THAT from our home, health and fitness magazines, right? However, I am not a dietician and I tell my students not to believe information without knowing the source, so I’ve done some research for you about these Kermit-colored superfoods.
In an online article entitled, “Health Benefits of Leafy Green Vegetables,” registered dietician Joy Bauer builds a “beefy” case for finishing your salad. She explains that most dark, leafy greens deliver beta carotene (repairs body tissue and protects skin against sun damage), vitamin C (helps body make collagen for skin and joints), vitamin E and lutein (for good vision and protection from cataracts/macular degeneration), potassium (helps manage blood pressure), fiber (for weight loss, blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, etc.) and folate (may reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and memory loss, and contributes to production of serotonin).
Some leafy greens are also rich in calcium for strong teeth and bones. Shape Magazine says leafies are like “edible vitamin pills… in one neat and delicious package.” Are you kidding me? Did you know salad was like magic food?? Why didn’t you tell me???
In the article “Let-tuce Keep You Healthy,” registered dietician Roberta Duyff writes “The darker the leaves, the more nutrient-rich the lettuce. Romaine has seven times more vitamin A and C than iceberg lettuce.” Sorry, iceberg, you can join the salad, but you can’t dominate the bowl!
So, the fact that I am excited to tell you about my adventures to date with leafy greens is, well, rather unbelievable, but some of this stuff is pretty great. It isn’t all salads either—there are lots of interesting yet healthy ways to prepare greens. A few I have tried in the past 2 months:
Escarole: “Escarole is a variety of endive whose leaves are broader, paler and less bitter than other members of the endive family. Try tossing a few escarole leaves into a mild salad, serving some quickly wilted with lemon juice, or stir chopped escarole into soup.” (Cookthink.com) The Italian Shrimp and Vegetable Soup I made several weeks ago included this healthy green!
Swiss Chard: (pronounced shard): The stems of this green may be a number of beautiful colors. I’m afraid I can’t quote my source, but I read somewhere that Swiss chard is the “peacock of greens.” Love it! The Whole Foods Market site explains: “Mild, tender and really yummy, Swiss chard is similar to spinach when it comes to taste and ease of preparation…Always start by washing the leaves and stalks under running water. Remove the stalks and…chop into bite-size pieces. Slice or chop the leaves and unless your recipe calls for a different approach, begin cooking by sautéing, braising or steaming the chopped stalks first…then add the chopped leaves…” I used an attractive, red, Swiss chard in a recipe recently: Lemony Lentil and Chard Soup.
Baby Spring Mix (may include a variety of lettuces such as arugula, chard, baby spinach, romaine, frisee’ and radicchio): Yes, I like convenience and yes, I think it is a pain to dab off soaking wet lettuce or to get out that monstrosity of a salad spinner in order to prepare lettuce for a salad. So, you would think I was custom-made for bagged lettuce, right? But, for the most part, I tend to find it slimy and I think it smells like preservatives. Sorry, I’m a lettuce snob!
So, how is a girl to incorporate weight-friendly salad into each day? Hubby found what I call the “Box o’ Greens” at Kroger, and this stuff doesn’t smell! After a few times rinsing these leaves in a colander and dealing with the half roll of paper towels it takes to dry them, I decided to shoot the moon and take my chances that this lettuce really IS “washed and ready to eat,” like it says on the package. Some of these lettuce varieties are bitter, and some do bring to mind the look of a dandelion stem, but they blend well. Instead of dressing, I drizzle on a little bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (a healthy fat) and sprinkle a dash of garlic/sea salt mixture. That’s it! And, to my surprise, I’m really ok with salad in place of carbs with my dinner these days!
KALE! My new, ruffly friend! I made yet another soup, this time with kale (Kale and Chickpea Soup with Feta). This recipe includes both black and red pepper, so it was a tad spicy for my timid palette, but it was still quite good. And kale, well…registered dietician Kathleen M. Zelman at webmd.com calls it, “the queen of greens,” and asserts that kale “is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet!”
Once my soup was in the pot, I had a lot of washed and dried kale left over (yes, dabbed with tons of paper towels, what can I say?) so, rather than waste it, I did something I never, ever would have seen myself doing—I made kale chips!! I found tons of good information and a recipe for kale chips here at VeganSpin.com. I covered the baking sheet with parchment, spread out my bite-sized pieces of kale, brushed them with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkled them with that same garlic/sea salt mixture, and baked them for 10 minutes at 300 degrees.
The whole time I’m thinking, “This is never going to work. This is lettuce in the oven- I feel stupid.” Yet, those darn things did brown up and got a little crispy and they tasted GREAT! They weren’t like potato chips (were you seriously going to ask me that?), and they were quite fragile, but they tasted lovely—even the hubby and the teenager agreed!
Well, here ends my green report! Do you have any recipes or suggestions for adding green foods to our diets? (No, not green M&M’s! Nice try. I thought of that already.) And, if you still have your doubts about greens, take it from Kermit, who, at the end of his ballad, concludes that, “I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful; And I think it’s what I want to be.” See, green CAN be easy!