Get Ready for Spring
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Get Ready for Spring

My guest “Cooking With Beth Blog” contributor Waltraud Unger, a holistic life coach, and mom, has shared a few new recipes to “get ready for spring!” An active member of Temple Israel and JCC in Ridgewood, her approach to optimum health and wellness is based on bio-individuality and the integration of unprocessed, natural foods into ones daily program. She works with individuals, families, and schools through counseling, lectures and cooking demonstrations and can be reached via e-mail at waltraud.unger@verizon or visit www.UnfoldingU.com.

Get ready for spring

After a long and snow filled winter it is hard to imagine that it will ever be spring. We stay warm in our house and fill up with heavy comfort foods to get us though the day. One of the best ways to get us out of being stuck and ready for the action of spring is with greens; dark leafy greens that is. Leafy greens are some of the easiest and most beneficial vegetables to incorporate into your daily routine. Members of the green family include kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, arugula, dandelion greens, broccoli rabe, watercress, beet greens, bok choy, napa cabbage, green cabbage, spinach and broccoli.

How do greens benefit our bodies? They are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorous, and zinc, and are a powerhouse for vitamins A, C, E and K. They are crammed full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals. Their color is associated with spring, which is a time to renew and refresh vital energy. Greens aid in purifying the blood, strengthening the immune system, improving liver, gall bladder and kidney function, fighting depression, clearing congestion, improving circulation and keeping your skin clear and blemish free.

Leafy greens are the vegetables most missing from the American diet, and many of us never learned how to prepare them. Start with the very simple recipe below. Then each time you go to the market, pick up a new green to try. Soon you’ll find your favorite greens and wonder how you ever lived without them. Even children learn to like greens. One of the best ways to get children started on greens is with a green smoothie. I have seen it work its magic at many of my childrens’ programs. Give it a try!

Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Yield: 3 servings

1 bunch collard greens or kale
1 tbsp. olive oil
1-2 cloves sliced garlic
2 tbsp. pine nuts
2 tbsp. golden raisins
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Wash the greens carefully with cold water, cut out the central ribs with a sharp knife and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Cut the leaves into 1-inch ribbons. Warm the oil in a pan over medium heat; add the sliced garlic and saut̩ until the aromas of garlic are released, about 1 minute. Add the collard ribs to the pan and saut̩ for another 2 minutes, than add the leaves. Cover the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and raisins, stir and cook, covered, for 2 more minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and let it cook for 1 Р2 minutes longer.

Options: For an exotic twist replace the balsamic vinegar with orange juice and omit the pine nuts. This makes a wonderful side dish for a festive dinner!

Green Smoothie

Yield: 2-4 servings

1 banana
1 mango, peeled and pit removed
1 cup of fresh pineapple, apple, berries etc.; optional
1/2 inch fresh ginger root, peeled, and grated; optional (some kids love ginger, others don’t)
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup water, optional to adjust the thickness of your drink
1 cup or more of green leafy vegetables, such as spinach (mild), kale, Swiss chard, or collard greens

Put all ingredients into a blender. Blend, starting at low and increasing to high, until smooth and creamy. Your drink will be a beautiful green color. (If you add berries, the color will start to turn brown. That’s o.k.) Experiment and find great combinations that work for you and your family. Start with a small amount of greens and increase it slowly as you adjust to these great nutrients.

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