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The Green Issue

What is so beautiful about summer apart from the weather?

Everything is green around us!
So why not eat green too?
When I say leafy green, do you say salad? When you say salad, do you mean salad as in iceberg? Then we need to talk. It is summer and the prime season for green leafy food.

If you go to the store, a farmers market, or if you are taking part in a farm share this summer you will notice that most of what is available right now is leafy and green.

There is so much to chose from and some of the names are more difficult to pronounce that others. Dont be scared to try something new and foreign. As long as it is leafy and green you can eat it in a salad. Some leaves need a little cooking, some are great just naturally as they come just washed.

Green is green but not always just green.
Greens actually come in a variety of green nuances. Some are yellow, white, some red or purple. Often you will find that the darker the leafy greens and the more texture they have, the more bitter they are. These often need a little cooking such as blanching, sauteeing, stir frying, or just toss them in with the hot food to wilt them. Depending on how dense the leaf is, it needs more or less cooking.

When you try the different leaves you can find quite an exciting mixture of tastes as well. Leafy greens vary from mild to spicy, bitter to peppery. Others are sweet or buttery in taste. Textures vary such as curly, flat, crispy, or soft. They all create quite an interesting and tasty mixture in a summer salad.

Green and nourishing facts.
Greens are an excellent source of vitamin a and a good source of vitamin c. The darker the leaves, the more vitamin A. Many greens, such as spinach, kale, and collards are known for their mineral content, especially iron, calcium, magnesium, as well as folate, riboflavin, b2 and vitamin k. Leafy greens are very rich in antioxidants. The carotenoids and beta carotene, and the tocopherols, vitamin e.

Being Green.
Baby greens are called so because they are harvested young, this is not the same sad story as calf or lamb though. The plant will keep growing and produce even more leaves, either more baby greens or become the full grown version. An example is baby arugula versus the full grown leaf of arugula. The taste is different but the origin is the same. When several different baby greens are mixed together it becomes a mesclun salad, which is the french word for mixed.

The leaves you most often find in there are lettuce, arugula, spinach, endive, and radicchio. To be more adventurous you can add some of the greens that you might recognize as weeds, namely dandelion, which is a very powerful, and bitter green leaf. The mesclun salad leaves all require no cooking, some do prefer the dandelion cooked though.

Also, add some edible flowers for color, and yes, they can be eaten, hence their name.
Other members of the green world come from the cabbage family. Here you find greens that are mostly eaten cooked, collards, kale, turnip, and mustard greens. Other greens include beet greens, turnip greens, and again as a cooked green, the dandelions.

When you eat cabbage raw it detoxifies the stomach and upper colon, which improves digestion. Do chew well though and get used to it little by little or you may end up with less of a social life. Green food, leafy greens, salad, or mesclun, whatever you call it, just go for it.

They are good for you, there are plenty to choose from, and they taste good!

The best way to store greens.
If you have a fridge with a humidity controlled drawer that is the best place for them. You can keep your greens in the plastic bag in the refrigerator until ready to use. Even if they say pre washed do wash them before serving. After washing, dry well to avoid a limp salad by patting them with paper towels. The best investment is a salad spinner. I actually like to wash my greens right when I bring them home, spin, and keep them in the spinner in the fridge. They seem to last a bit longer that way. I also have some charcoal in my fridge in an open bowl, which is said to keep veggies and greens fresh longer and omit some of the odors in the fridge. I would not be able to tell you if it actually works.

The best way to eat greens.
Instead of having a store bought salad dressing, which is often mixed with sugar, choose a good quality cold pressed virgin olive oil.
If you prefer a dressing out of the bottle already mixed, look for one that does not contain sugar, but instead is sweetened with either agave, brown rice or maple syrup, honey, or other non processed sugar or artificial sweetener.

And, you do want oil on your salad. Not just for the taste. Your body needs to even absorb the nutritional value from your green food. Adding fat helps you feel full and gives you energy as well. I am however talking about plant derived fat from olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado.

Enjoy having a healthy leafy green summer.

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