Friday, April 12, 2013

eat your greens - spinach toasts

Greens in Guyana March 2013

I think we need some posts on ways to use greens. 

We recently bought a food share from a local organic farm (La Nay Ferme in Provo Utah) and the early food bags are full of gorgeous fresh picked greens - some for salads, but others work better cooked. So I thought I'd collect some recipes to help us consume this wonderful food.

Greens are: 
  • richly nutritious
  • relatively inexpensive
  • easy to grow
  • versatile
  • beautiful
Why don't we eat more of them?

My grandparents grew up in the south and ate turnip greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, collard greens, beet greens and more.

We lived in the Caribbean for a few years and the produce markets were full of gorgeous green leaves of all sizes (I took the picture above during a visit to Guyana a month ago).

Greens are loaded with good things for our bodies.

On the nutrition front, dark green leafy vegetables, calorie for calorie, are considered one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. Specifically, they are an excellent source of several minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium as well as vitamins K (providing nine times the recommended daily allowance (RDA) per 1 cup serving) C, E, and many of the B vitamins. In addition, leafy greens provide a number of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin and also contain small amounts of fatty acids. Cementing their place on the nutritional honor roll, leafy greens contain very few carbohydrates, much of which is offset by its high fiber content (so much so that the leafy greens are generally considered a “freebie” vegetable in most low-carbohydrate diets).
In addition to their shared nutritional benefits, leafy green vegetables also have several medicinal benefits in common. According to recent research, for example, leafy green vegetables can help prevent age-related cognitive declines, can help prevent cataracts and boost eye health (you can thank the potent combination of lutein, and zeaxanthin for that one!), and may also reduce your risk of skin cancer.

From Marks Daily Apple
Read more:

Here's a recipe (haven't tried it yet) from Dr Weil's Healthy Kitchen

Spinach Toasts
Cooking spinach takes very little time, but you need to wash and drain it carefully, and remove tough stems first, which may take 5 or 10 minutes. Plan accordingly. The spinach on these little appetizers is a great source of iron and vitamins A and C.
3/4 cup purified water
2 bunches fresh spinach (about 2 pounds), stemmed
9 pieces thinly sliced whole wheat bread
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon canola or grape seed oil
2/3 cup low-fat**  plain yogurt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Freshly ground pepper to taste
11/2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
1 red apple, cut in thin wedges
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Pour the water into a large stainless steel pot and bring it to a boil. Drop in the washed spinach and cook for 3 minutes, stirring several times. Drain the spinach in a colander over a pan to catch all the water, which you can save to make vegetable stock (page 122). Put a bowl or plate on top of the spinach, inside the colander, and press down to squeeze excess water from the leaves.
Trim the crusts from the bread slices, cut on the diagonal to create 2 triangular pieces, then cut again to make 4 triangles. Put them on a cookie sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, sauté the onions and garlic in canola or grape seed oil in a medium nonstick sauté pan over low heat until onions are softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Put the spinach leaves into a medium bowl, along with the onions and the garlic. Add the yogurt, mint, pepper, and nuts and toss thoroughly with a fork. Spread the spinach mixture on the toasts just before serving. Garnish with apple wedges. Makes 36 pieces - 3 triangles per person.