Warm Greens for Cold Days

I threw another thick blanket on top of my comforter this week and snuggled under it feeling like the most blessed person in the world to be able to shut out the stinging cold front that has taken over our usually balmy, Mediterranean weather.  In the kitchen I have just wanted to make something that would come out seaming hot from the oven or under the lid of a cast iron skillet on the stove above.  Most of us are used to getting our daily greens from a fresh salad, but how often have you tried the insanely nutritious, darker and heavier leaves like kale, collard greens and chard? This blistery week I made a casual challenge to myself to use them in some way every day, and I think I made it!  What do the taste testers have to say about that you ask? They are indeed three regular, hamburger loving teenagers and one active adult male who likes the usual fare!

I realize that those of you who are starting from scratch here may face an incredible amount of resistance when you start cooking unfamiliar vegetables. Unfamiliar desserts is one thing, but collard greens!!!?!  Luckily I started this bunch on pureed spinach when they were in their high chairs, and my husband used to eat it out of a can in his starving student days. For me it has been a journey of discovery that started a few years ago.  Like you have heard me say before, this is one unique excuse to use covert tactics, which I do, so here are three suggestions for getting more greens in your diet in a variety of ways.

1)  The picture above is for advanced green eaters because you see a lot of it and pretty big chunks at that. I usually cut it very fine and slide it into meat dishes like One Dish Tamale Pie or Spicy Chicken mango Dish, so if your eaters are beginners, that would be more of the place to start.  To give you a vision for the future though, the dish above is a flexible mixture of ingredients you might already have.

* FIrst you saute some onions and vegetables that take the longest to soften.  In this case an onion, a bell pepper, 4 unpeeled carrots and the diced ribs of the green leaves. 
* Second, after they have softened with the lid on, push them to the sides and place 1 lb. of ground meat in the center.  Pile the leaves on top and replace the lid.

* Third, after the meat is no longer pink inside, its time to add some savory flavors like a few cloves of crushed garlic and a tablespoon each of apple cider vinegar and soy sauce.
  Let it simmer on low until the leaves are softened and stir all together.

2)  Another way to get the greens in your diet is to juice them for drinking and then use the fiber for baking. I have just been discovering this wonderful, time consuming process, but I must say, it gets easier every time. I have a few recipes so far using the fiber, and you can find them by entering “juicing”  or “fiber” in the search box on the recipe page. I’m going to keep experimenting with this because the benefits are so many…1) a great use for the fiber, 2) more fiber in my baked goods, 3) green vegetables in my baked goods, and 4) less grain in my baked goods.  This week I adapted Chocolate Breakfast Bread into Vitality Brownies.  I used only 1/2 c. of chocolate chips, but you could certainly use a whole cup and or put some frosting on top of the brownies to sweeten them up even more. It will be trial and error to see what you can get away with and still have them eaten at your house. A few of mine won’t try them, but at least the rest of us have a healthy treat waiting for us on the cake plate!

3)  Now that I have learned to season them pretty well, my taste testers who won’t touch a “brownie” with vegetable fiber will still eat forkfuls of these greens from a bowl. Like I’ve said before, I make Fish and Greens every few weeks, and the way those greens are prepared by simmering in broth is how we get the most greens. For flavor I will add any combination of feta or blue cheese chunks, chopped, nitrate free chicken sausage, sun dried tomatoes, delicious olive broschetta topping from Costco, green apples and raisins or a healthy dose of nutty tasting nutritional yeast.

Cooking more healthy, dark greens is a way to show your love to those you cook for and to care for yourself as well. Since every journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, don’t be overwhelmed, just take one of these three as your first!

molly's avatar