The Beauty of Green Vegetables

The beauty of green vegetables is that there are so many to choose from we have access to them all year round. Unlike other more seasonable fruits and vegetables, you can always find flavorful greens to choose from and add to your smoothies, juicing, soups and stews, and salads.

I don’t think I’ve found a green I don’t like – I love them all – kale, spinach, dandelion, chard, collards, lettuces and their many blends, beet greens, and the dozens of others available.

I like to cook seasonally with greens. During the fall and winter I use them mostly in soups and stews, or as warm side dishes by themselves. In the spring and summer I like to integrate more raw into my diet so I juice them and make green smoothies.

Greens can sometimes have a bitter taste – but there are ways to make them less so. They’re an acquired taste for sure, so start out using smaller amounts, and integrate the more bitter ones like dandelion and collard greens slowly. Otherwise, you may never try them again, and this would be a shame because they have more nutrients in them than any other food group.

For soups and stews, I tend to go rather heavy on the spinach and different kales. I use chard in place of spinach a lot of the time when making casseroles or stir fried meals (just don’t use the stem because they can be a bit ‘chewy’ – save the stem for juicing). When making side dishes with greens you can use herbs, oils and flavorful vinegars as well as things like water chestnuts, onions, peppers and mushrooms to balance the flavors.

Probably the most challenging ways to add more greens are with smoothies and juicing. Greens should be added to these more slowly. For green smoothies I use things like apples and pears or seasonal berries to balance out the flavor and make them less bitter. Bananas and other sweet fruits are OK occasionally, but given their higher sugar content, I use them minimally. When juicing greens, I balance the flavors out with granny smith apples or an entire lemon or lime, and top off the glass with either a small pinch of cayenne or himalayan salt.

Sometimes I like to have fun with smoothies and juices and create concoctions that are sour, salty, sweet, bitter, with a touch of spice to top it off, loosely based on the 5 Elements of Chinese Medicine. Depending on my what my body needs or is craving determines what I include for the day. When I’m craving more bitter, I use more dandelions and collards. If I want to be a bit more sweetness I’ll use more celery and their green tops or cucumbers.

Have fun with green recipes – it’s the easiest most practical way to get the nutrients, fiber and flavor into your daily diet – and your body will love you for it.