On the Divinity of Greens

I've fallen in love.
This year, our garden has a gorgeous bounty of kale, chard, beets and spinach. I have loved experimenting with different ways to integrate them into our meals.

Greens are a nutritional powerhouse. Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, probably the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega-3 fats.

Perhaps the star of these nutrients is Vitamin K. A cup of most cooked greens provides at least nine times the minimum recommended intake of Vitamin K, and even a couple of cups of dark salad greens usually provide the minimum all on their own. Recent research has provided evidence that this vitamin may be even more important than we once thought (the current minimum may not be optimal), and many people do not get enough of it. (nutritional information source: about.com)

It seems the more leafy greens I eat, the less I crave carbohydrates and other food that are less than optimal in nutrition. Truly! I feel vibrant and satisfied after I eat a salad of greens topped with quality grilled meat and homemade dressing.

In a nutshell, greens are simply divine.

Here are just a few ways I've enjoyed greens lately:

Greens, Red Chile and Eggs
~10 big leaves of kale, chard, spinach or beet greens
1/2 c. Max's Red Chile
2 eggs
salt and pepper to taste

Chop greens to desired size. Quickly saute greens over medium-high heat in olive oil. Place in bowl. Baste two eggs and place atop greens. Warm the red chile in the same pan and pour atop greens. The bitter greens and savory flavor of the red chile are a mouth-watering combination.

Note: Basting is my favorite egg preparation. You simply crack two eggs into a frying pan heated over medium-high heat with a drizzle of your favorite oil, then add about a tablespoon of water. Place a glass lid over the eggs until the whites are set and the yolks still jiggle when the pan is shaken. It makes a pretty cooked egg that isn't as runny as a sunny side up preparation.

Rice, Eggs and Greens
~10 big leaves of kale, chard, spinach or beet greens
3/4 c. leftover sticky rice
2 eggs
1 t. gluten-free soy sauce or coconut aminos
salt and pepper to taste

Heat some leftover rice until steamy. Place in a shallow bowl. Chop greens to desired size. Quickly saute greens over medium-high heat in olive oil. Add soy or coconut aminos as they cook. Place greens atop rice. Baste two eggs and place atop greens. Enjoy!

Greens and Salmon
~10 big leaves of kale, chard, spinach or beet greens
2 radishes
1/4 berries
2 T. Balsamic Vinaigrette
1 piece of Salmon 
2 t. lemon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Salt, pepper, and oil the salmon. Grill until flaky. Chop greens to desired size. Place salmon on top of the greens. Top salad with radishes, berries, and balsamic vinaigrette and enjoy on a sunny patio.

Kid's Green Salad
~10 big leaves of lettuce, kale, chard, spinach hand picked by your kids.
Any other veggie they can pick out of a garden or the fridge and chop themselves.
2 T. of your kiddo's favorite salad dressing

Let your kids play with a dangerous object (a kitchen knife!), and have them chop the greens to their desired size (with supervision). Top with other veggies and salad dressing. Because your kids prepared the salad all by themselves, they will magically savor this dish they might have snubbed the night before!

This nutty, crunchy snack is a favorite of kids and adults alike: http://www.glutensolution.blogspot.com/2011/03/kale-chips.html

This is a beautiful salad to take to a summer potluck because of its cheery color, quick preparation, and its ability to look crisp and delicious on a buffet during a long outdoor get together: http://glutensolution.blogspot.com/2012/05/rainbow-slaw.html

A quick breakfast shake will start your day energetically!
This shake contains enough fruits, veggies, proteins and high-quality fats to make you feel fulfilled and energized: http://glutensolution.blogspot.com/2012/04/nuts-and-berries-smoothie.html

This soup is surprisingly bright, yet filling. . .warm and complex with a hint of a sunny tartness: http://glutensolution.blogspot.com/2012/01/sunny-sweet-potato-kale-and-sausage.html

If you ever crave the sweet-tart flavor of a traditional salad, try this healthier version with some garden kale, navy beans and green beans: http://glutensolution.blogspot.com/2011/09/not-aunt-paulines-bean-salad-recipe.html