Grandma was right all along when she told us greens were good for us nutritionally. So why do many people eat green leafy vegetables only once or twice a week? Why are kale, cabbage, broccoli and spinach not regularly seen on the dinner table? Why is lettuce the only green vegetable that many people ever use, when green vegetables are recognized by nutritionists as one of the most inexpensive sources of so many important nutrients? I believe education is the key.
For our nightly dinners, we always include a variety of greens according to the season. I also make a green smoothie for our weekday breakfasts. If family or friends are coming for dinner, one salad is always made, the green salad. Regardless of the season, I’ll search the market for in seasonal greens. This salad is obviously for spring with asparagus, snow peas, watercress, lettuce leaves or spinach and green almonds. It isn’t difficult to find a wide variety of green vegetables for a salad or a side dish for all the seasons. Here are several suggestions. For a green summer salad you could combine: mixed lettuce leaves, green beans, cucumber, zucchini, celery and peas with a green dressing (see below) or add a legume or grain. For warm autumn greens you could use a side of steamed vegetables like: a head of romanesque, broccolini stems, brussel sprouts or fennel, seasoned with Himalayan salt and ground black pepper and drenched in olive oil. For winter, a steamed side of either: kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, fennel or Jerusalem artichokes well seasoned with Himalayan salt and ground black pepper would taste delicious on it’s own or mixed with grains and legumes.
Use my salad ingredients as a guide, in fact, simply search your market or grocery store for whatever you can find, and add a pop of colour with one vegetable like mandolined radishes. The avocado dressing is king of this dish. Favourful and smooth, the avocado, pumpkin seeds and herbs combined with lime juice and olive oil provide a taste unrivalled, especially if you increase the tanginess by using two or three garlic cloves instead of one.
· Green, leafy vegetables provide a great variety of colours from the bluish-green of kale to the bright kelly green of spinach. Leafy greens run the whole gamut of flavours, from sweet to bitter, from peppery to earthy. Young plants generally have small, tender leaves and a mild flavour. Many mature plants have tougher leaves and stronger flavours. Collards, Swiss chard, bok choy, and spinach provide a mild flavour while arugula, mizuna and mustard greens provide a peppery flavour. Bok choy is best known for use in stir-fries, since it remains crisp, even when cooked to a tender stage. One should always choose crisp leaves with a fresh vibrant green colour. Yellowing is a sign of age and indicates that the greens may have an off flavour. Salad greens provide a whole range of important nutrients and phytochemicals to keep us healthy.
· Leafy vegetables are ideal for weight management as they are typically low in calories. They are useful in reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease since they are low in fat, high in dietary fibre, and rich in folic acid, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium, as well as containing a host of phytochemicals.
· Because of their high magnesium content and low glycemic index, green leafy vegetables are also valuable for persons with type 2 diabetes. The high level of vitamin K in greens makes them important for the production of a protein essential for bone health.
· Green vegetables are also a major source of iron and calcium for any diet. Swiss chard and spinach are not considered good sources of calcium, due to their high content of oxalic acid. Green leafy vegetables are rich in beta-carotene, which can also be converted into vitamin A, and also improve immune function.
· Carotenoids found in dark-green leafy vegetables, are concentrated in the eye lens and macular region of the retina, and play a protective role in the eye.
· Green veggies contain a variety of carotenoids, flavonoids and other powerful antioxidants that have cancer-protective properties.
· Quercetin is found in leafy green vegetables. It’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and displays unique anticancer properties.
Makes one medium sized platter
1 small jug dressing
V, GF, DF
For the salad:
1 bundle green or purple asparagus, sliced
sml handful of snow peas, sliced diagonally
4 radishes, finely slice on mandolin
¼ cup green almonds, finely sliced, optional
handful watercress, torn off stems
2 handfuls of mixed lettuce leaves
shaved vegan cheese
For the avocado dressing:
2 limes, juiced
¼ teaspoon lime zest
¼ avocado, pitted
handful of herbs – like flat-leaf parsley, coriander
3 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1 cup water
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
pinch sea salt
For the salad, slice the asparagus and snow peas, and add to a bowl. Mandolin radishes and add to the bowl. Finely slice the green almonds, place into a small bowl of lemon water for a few minutes to prevent discolouration, then add to the salad. Separate a handful of watercress from the stems and add both the watercress and lettuce leaves to the bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, shave vegan feta cheese into the bowl, adding as much as you wish. Gently mix the salad ingredients and place on a platter. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge until needed.
For the avocado dressing, add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into a serving jug. Best used immediately, but can be stored in a jar for up to 7 days. Place the salad platter and avocado dressing together on the table for serving.