Now that you know how to cook your greens well, I want share with you what to do with those wonderful stems you took out of all the leaves. The stems of leafy greens are rich in nutrients (fiber, vitamin C and calcium), and would be a shame to waste such a nutritious part of a vegetable.
I have two recipes that I adore to use up the stems: white bean dip and pesto.
First thing first, chop and steam the stems for 3-5 minutes in boiling water. Strain the stems and let them cool for 5-10 minutes.
If you have an abundance of stems, you can put the extra in a freezer bag and store in the freezer until you are ready to make dip. When you are ready to use them, just let them defrost before continuing with the recipe.
When they are cooled (or defrosted if using frozen) bring out your food processor and collect the other ingredients. Put the kale stems in first with the liquid and blend until fairly smooth. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend until well mixed and to a consistency you like.
Both recipes freeze well so I make a large batch and freeze in jars. Use as sandwich spreads, veggie dip or with crackers. You will never imagine there are kale stems in it!
White Bean Dip
Kale Stem Pesto
An armload of greens, my favorite dinner item! Greens are a prolific garden vegetable and a super healthy addition to any meal. They are full of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants. They even have 5 grams of protein per cup of cooked greens. Greens are shown to reduce inflammation, strengthen bones, and prevent a number of chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes.
I believe the reason why more people don't take advantage of these wonderful leaves, is they don't know the best way to prepare them.
Today I want to share with you how I prepare greens and give you the only recipe you will ever need, to make more greens a part of your diet.
When I come in from the garden with an armload of greens, the first thing I do is fill the sink with water and give them a soak. It helps any bugs to let go and rinses off any dirt. I give each leaf a little rub and then take out the center stem.
The easiest way to take out the stem is to run your thumb and pointer finger down the stem from the back side, tearing the leaf off as you go. It takes some practice at first, but once you get the hang of it, it is a quick process.
Once you get all the stems removed, pile your greens on the cutting board. (You can save the stems for another recipe, they are full of nutrients too.) I find a bread knife works the best for cutting.
Some people find it helpful to arrange the leaves on top of each other neatly, that takes too much time for me. I just bunch them up as tightly as I can and grab my knife.
The first cut is in the center of my pile to get a nice straight edge. Once you cut through, fold the pile on the right, under the left pile, lining up the cut ends.
Then start making ribbon cuts of greens, as narrow as you can. The smaller the cuts, the faster it will cook and the more tender it will be.
Continue until all the greens are cut.
Now onto cooking.
I always start with an onion, finely chopped. Put it in a large pot to sauté in some coconut or olive oil. Let it cook until it starts to caramelize and turn golden brown.
Then throw in the greens. Stir and press the greens down into the pot, get them all coated with oil and mix the onions into them. Add a dash of salt and any other spices you like. My favorite is garlic and curry powder.
Cook with the lid off so the liquid from the greens evaporates. Cook them about 5-8 minutes depending on how full the pot is. You will know when they are done because they will have greatly reduced in size and turned a darker shade of green.
Serve as a side dish with meat, eggs, beans or alone with rice. You can even incorporate them into another dish. You are only limited by your creativity.
Greens are a favorite part of my family's diet and I hope you find they become a favorite veggie for your family too!
Whole grains are part of a healthy balanced diet. Or are they? We have heard much conflicting information on whether or not grains are part of a healthy diet.
There are many reasons why grains are triggers for people today.
One of the reasons is that farmers are using herbicides as a drying agent in order to get the grains from field to market faster. The grains soak in the poison and dry down making for an easier and larger harvest for the farmer.
For the consumer, however, they get a food product laden with dangerous chemicals. It is important to choose organic whole grains to ensure they are free from toxic chemicals.
Another reason is that we have adopted fast harvesting methods. The ancient methods of harvesting grains involved stacking the grain to dry in the fields. This allows for the fermentation of the grain in the chaff and increases the nutritional content and digestibility of the grain.
Fermentation is the key. Today our bread is raised with brewers yeast and not the natural, slow yeast of our ancestors. Grains are high in phytic acid. Phytic acid is know as an anti-nutrient that blocks the absorption of essential minerals.
Soaking and fermenting grains reduces the phytic acid and they become more digestible. This is a simple method that just involves a little planning ahead. I like to soak my grains overnight for the following day. Once you get into the habit of it, it requires little more thought than brushing your teeth before bed.
To soak whole grains all you need is clean water for soaking, and an acidic medium like yogurt, buttermilk, whey, lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Simply put the grains in a bowl, and add 1 tablespoon acidic medium for each cup of water. Cover and let sit overnight at room temperature. In the morning you can continue the recipe, cooking the grains as needed.
When I bake I use a similar method, soaking the flour overnight. For example, if I am making muffins, I soak the flour overnight substituting yogurt or buttermilk for the milk in the recipe. The next day I continue adding the ingredients and finish baking the recipe as directed.
Since I have adopted soaking and fermenting into my grain routine, I have noticed improved digestion and mineral absorption personally.
My favorite resource for getting the most out of your whole foods is the book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. I highly recommend you get a copy for yourself. It is a staple of my kitchen and is a guidebook for anyone who is interested in connecting with time tested food preparation methods that are nearly lost.
I believe it is the ancient wisdom that will bring solutions for the modern problems we face today.
Jessica Mutunga is passionate about good simple living that focuses on relationships, food and creating a supportive healthy environment. She is The Light Way Coach.