What is your body craving right now?
As we are moving into
spring, leafy greens take center stage in my kitchen. I just love them so much
– I want to eat them every day. Leafy
greens are the most nutrition-filled land vegetables. As the
green part of the plant, they contain chlorophyll, a pigment they use to
capture sunlight and form oxygen. Leaves are, in essence, the lungs of the
plant, and consuming them brings energy to our own lungs.
You will feel a
burst of energy within minutes of eating greens. If you make them a regular part of
your diet, they will uplift your spirits and infuse you with potent sun energy.
Green is the color of spring, of renewal, of hope, of the heart chakra. No
wonder green leafy vegetables have such positive effects on us.
On a nutritional level,
leafy greens provide us with an abundance of minerals, vitamins and other
valuable substances: iron (the darker the green, the more iron), calcium (Where
do cows get the calcium to make milk? From the green grass!), magnesium,
potassium, phosphorous, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K. Leafy greens also
deliver fiber, folic acid and, of course, chlorophyll. Chlorophyll nourishes the friendly bacteria in the
digestive tract, thus promoting healthy intestinal flora, strengthening
immunity and preventing cancer.
Leafy greens have
cleansing properties, helping to support liver and kidney function. The bitter-tasting leafy greens,
such as watercress, dandelion, arugula and broccoli rabe, are great liver
tonics. All leafy greens are excellent blood purifiers, and they improve
circulation. They help reduce mucus and clear congestion, especially in the
Please be aware of
two cautions regarding leafy greens:
--Beet greens, Swiss chard and spinach contain oxalic
acid, which can leach calcium out of our bones and teeth. Eat
these in moderation and combine them with other calcium-rich foods such as
legumes, dairy and fish.
-- Vitamin K-containing
foods such as leafy greens should be
eaten sparingly by people who take the blood-thinning medication warfarin
(commonly known as Coumadin), which prevents blood clots by blocking the action
of vitamin K. Because leafy greens are an abundant source of vitamin K, eating
them can undermine the drug’s protection against blood clots.
Leafy greens are
easy and quick to prepare. The most time-consuming part of preparation is washing the
greens. I recommend that you fill your sink with cold water, cut the greens
into pieces that suit your recipe and submerge them in the water. With your
hands, move the greens about to dislodge any earth or sand particles. If you
find a lot of debris at the bottom of your sink, repeat the procedure.
After washing the greens,
place them in a colander to drain. It is good to leave a little water on the
leaves, as it provides some steaming action during cooking.
You can steam, boil or
sauté greens. Save any cooking liquid to enjoy as a soothing and alkalizing
drink. The cooking time for leafy greens is very brief—anywhere from two to
five minutes. Always keep a watchful eye—the brightness of the green color will
give you a clue as to when they are ready. When the color turns a more vibrant green, that is your signal to check
whether they are done. If you cook them for too long, their
color changes to olive green and they lose both visual appeal and flavor. Once
they turn bright green and are ready, serve them right away, unless you plan to
use them in a salad—you would then rinse them in cold water at that point to
stop the cooking process.
When serving greens to my
guests, I complete all preparations beforehand, but I don’t actually cook the
greens until right then and there—while my guests are sitting at the dining
table. There is nothing more delicious
than freshly cooked greens that have been prepared just a minute ago.
When preparing greens, use
some form of oil or fat, whether in the cooking process or drizzled over the
finished dish, as this will help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A,
E and K. Squeezing a little lemon or lime juice or white balsamic vinegar
over the dish will help to pull more calcium out of the greens.
When buying greens, make
sure they are fresh. Do not buy greens that are limp or have turned yellow—you
do not want any wilted energy in your body! And try to use them the same day
you purchase them or the day after. Unlike other vegetables, greens do not keep
well in the refrigerator for more than a few days. So before refrigerating
them, I cut off the ends of the stems and place them upright in a tall
container of water. The stems draw in the water and keep the leaves strong and