Greens, Greens, Greens…Who Would Have Thought They Were This Important?
*There’s a good reason why your parents always told you to eat your greens as a child. It’s a simple fact: Greens are the most important group of foods that are available. Greens, especially the dark leaf varieties like spinach, kale, collards, swiss chard, arugula, water cress, dark leafy lettuces, even dandelion and wild greens, contain the highest nutrient density and are the most alkaline of all foods. They are the primary food group that most completely matches human nutritional needs.
Greens have been noted to contain such a great quantity of phyonutrients and alkaline forming properties, that some nutritionists have declared greens should be in a food group all themselves, apart from vegetables. Greens are not vegetables, yet they are placed in the vegetable group and are a part of the 2-4 daily recommended servings given in the governments’ RDI. This is not enough!
Let me pause for a moment to give a brief outline of alkaline foods and why they are so important to us. One of the most fundamental things you need to understand about health, energy, weight loss and healing, is the body must be in an alkaline state in order to radiate health. This is what keeps inflammation and ultimately disease and health issues at bay.
Eating more alkaline forming foods as opposed to acidic forming foods puts your body in a healing, less stressful state of health. Consuming more acidic forming foods opens the door to all kinds of trouble, including inflammation, which keeps you from healing, and losing weight. This inflammation eventually takes you down the road to diseases, disorders, and even cancers.
Basically, vegetables and fruit are alkaline forming, while most grains, nuts, seeds dairy, sugar, and animal products are acid forming. This is quite the opposite of how most Americans eat. No wonder there is so much heart disease, cancers, and illness in our country!
So, back to greens…greens, the darker the better, are the richest source of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the pigment that captures energy from the sun. It also gives plants their green color, and is what assists us in producing energy. Consuming wheat grass juice and the juice from other cereal greens, such as barley grass, rye and spelt, as well as “juice from the sea”, like spirulina and chorella, contain some the highest and riches sources of anti-oxidants and chlorophyll. These are especially recommended if you want to kick-start your health!
Chlorophyll is the lifeblood of the plant and differs from the hemoglobin in our blood only slightly. Therefore, it feeds our blood and helps our red blood cells carry oxygen to cells throughout our body. Hence, this is where our energy comes from whenever we consume a large portion of leafy greens!
Greens- dark leafy greens, (spinach, kale, collards, swiss chard, romaine, dark leafy lettuces, arugula, watercress)
It has recently been recommended by many nutritionists and holistic practitioners to consume two large bunches of leafy greens (about 8 cups) a day. This quota can easily be met by adding greens to smoothies, juicing, and having one to two large salads daily. Greens can be served as a sauteed vegetable, added to dishes such as casseroles, meats, and soups, and of course, can be eaten in a salad.
Ways to Get More Greens Into Your Diet
There are many ways to include leafy greens into your diet. Below are just a few of the ways I have added greens to mine and my family’s diet over the years:
- Add greens to smoothies (I usually add at least 3 – 4 cups per smoothie, but start with a handful and work your way up).
- Juice green vegetables (anything green, spinach, kale, collards, celery, broccoli, cucumber, parsley, cilantro, etc.)
- Include one to two large salads a day (each salad should be 4-6 cups of greens plus other vegetables (Try massaging your spinach or kale with olive oil, lemon juice and salt. This wilts the greens like it was cooked, and helps you consume more)
- Saute your favorite greens with bacon (or vegetable or miso, bouillon) and onions in coconut oil. Salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne…mmm! I learned to eat collards this way when we lived in NC, and have grown collards in my garden ever since.
- Freeze them…I pack a sandwich baggie full of greens, for smoothies. I even do this with my wild greens I gather from the yard each summer. I can get about 10 baggies of greens in a gallon freezer bag, and keep this on hand for smoothies, and other recipes that call for greens. This is also a great way to preserve your greens that you feel you can’t use before going bad..and makes preparing smoothies in the morning a breeze!
- Dehydrate greens and store in jars. I dehydrate greens from my yard and garden; store in jars and use in recipes throughout the year.
- Add chopped greens (fresh, frozen or dehydrated). Add to everything; from stews, meats, savory casseroles to salads, even baked goods, like brownies. The kids don’t even know! My kids grew up learning to add “crushed greens” to dishes when cooking.