The green, green hills of health
“When Irish eyes are smiling, Sure ’tis like a morn in spring…”
— Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.
With spring slowly beginning to emerge and St. Patrick’s Day on its way, it’s time to showcase the luscious, life-sustaining advantages of cooking with dark, leafy greens.
Dark, leafy greens have not always been a significant ingredient in many American kitchens. For years, greens received scant attention, as salads composed of iceberg lettuce and a few slices of cucumber were considered a completely healthy salad. Now that most food markets offer a glorious range of greens to choose from, there is no end to the delightful and delicious dishes that can be prepared with fresh greens.
Dark, leafy greens such as cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, beet greens, bok choy, collard and mustard greens, arugula and kale may be some of the most invigorating foods you can fortify your body with. There has been evidence presented that besides purifying the blood and working to eliminate depression, greens are high in fiber content, helping to aid digestion, stabilize blood sugar and lower cholesterol. With the exception of Swiss chard and spinach, greens are a superb source of non-dairy calcium.
Greens are reportedly rich in Vitamin A, lutein and zaxanthin, which may provide cancer-preventive protection. Consuming greens will also supply the body with iron, folic acid, chlorophyll, magnesium, Vitamin C and beta carotene, which could potentially boost immunity and possibly help prevent heart disease, as well.
There are so many enticing ways to prepare leafy greens. Frilly edged kale can be added to soups or frittatas, or sauteed with olive oil and garlic and crushed red pepper, for a zesty side dish or quick lunch. Beet greens are sensational when steamed and drizzled with cider vinegar. Curvaceous bok choy adds crunch to stir fries, while the pungent punch of mustard greens adds sassy verve to potato, grain or bean dishes. Swiss chard and spinach add flavorful flair to stews and pasta.
Buy organic greens whenever possible and look for deeply colored, crisp leaves, free of any yellowing edges. Bring your greens home, fill a large bowl with cool water and plunge the greens into the bowl. Swish the greens around and then remove them from the bowl, empty the water from the bowl and repeat the process until there is no dirty residue in the bottom of the bowl. You can store the greens for several days, wrapped loosely in paper towels, then placed in a plastic bag.
Whether you plan to celebrate St. Patrick's Day or not, I hope you enjoy this traditional Irish recipe.
Remember to experiment with generous amounts of greens as you prepare your delicious life!
2 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large sweet onions, peeled and diced
1 ½ tablespoons butter
4-5 cups Savoy cabbage, shredded
2 ½ cups vegetable broth (or water)
4 cups of kale, washed and chopped
1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until tender, approximately 20 minutes.
Drain potatoes, saving 1 cup of cooking water. Season potatoes with salt and pepper, then mash in a bowl with the cooking water.
Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan and saute onions until translucent. Add savoy cabbage to pan with ½ cup of broth. Cover pan and cook on medium low until cabbage is tender, Set aside. In a stockpot bring 2 cups of broth to a boil. Add the kale and cook for a few minutes, just until tender. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Remove kale from pot and drain well. Stir cooked kale, cabbage, onions and parsley into mashed potatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture into a casserole dish. Top with remaining ½ tablespoon of butter and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until piping hot.
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook”, is a passionate food and wellness professional who earned her certification in holistic health counseling from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teacher’s College. She earned her cooking experience in the kitchen! Robin specializes in teaching healthy cooking classes to children and adults utilizing, fresh, natural ingredients and simple, delicious recipes. She conducts cooking demonstrations for many local organizations and is available for cooking parties and private instruction as well. For more information go to . Robin’s blog is confessionsofaconsciouscook.blogspot.com.