March: Green Cuisine

If red was the color for February, then green is the color for March. First, it signifies the beginning of Spring, when buds start appear on the trees and gardeners begin to plant seeds in starter pots in anticipation of planting their outdoor gardens. Second, St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th, and on that day, everybody can be Irish and get into a “green groove!” Finally, green foods are the obvious choice for this month’s recipes, because March is also National Nutrition Month and green foods are especially nutritious.

The March recipes include a variety of green foods, from asparagus and avocados to leafy greens such as collards and kale. Rather than profile each of these foods in depth in this month’s posting, I will just give a sentence or two about the attributes of each of these green foods and perhaps profile them individually in a future blog, since many of them are nutrient dense as well as flavorful.

1. Asparagus-Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food high in Folic Acid and also a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. Asparagus seems an ideal food in that it contains no fat or cholesterol, and is also low in sodium. (Source: www.asparagus.com)

2. Avocado-Avocados provide more than 25 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid. They are also a “good fat” food. (Source:www.avocado.org)

3. Bok Choy-Cultivated in China since ancient times, bok choy is found in soups and stir-fries, appetizers, and main dishes. Bok choy’s popularity comes from its light, sweet flavor, crisp texture and nutritional value. Not only is bok choy high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and calcium, but it is low in calories. www.chinesefood.about.com/)

4. Collards-Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, folate, dietary fiber, and calcium. In addition, collard greens are a very good source of potassium, vitamin B2 and vitamin B6, and a good source of vitamin E, magnesium, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B1, vitamin B5, niacin, zinc, phosphorous, and iron. (Source: www.collards.com)

5. Dill-While we use dill (leaves and seeds) to enhance the flavor of our foods, historically it is an old-fashioned stomach remedy, helping to prevent gas and fermentation and supposedly useful for quieting the nerves, for pain and swelling, and for stopping hiccoughs. (Source: Back to Eden by Jethro Kloss)

6. Edamame beans(Green soybeans)-These crunchy green beans are a complete protein with all the essential amino acids. They are also a source of fiber, essential fatty acids and isoflavones (Isoflavones are secondary soy vegetable substances, which can act as estrogens in the body and have protective functions.)
(Source: Back panel of a package of VeggieLand’s Shelled Edamame.)

7. Kale-Kale is an excellent source of vitamin A on account of its concentrated beta-carotene content. Once inside the body, beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A, so when you eat kale, it’s like getting both these beneficial nutrients at once. One cup of kale contains just 36.4 calories, but provides 192.4% of the daily value for vitamin A. (Source:www.whfoods.com)

8. Snow Peas-Snow peas provide vitamins A and C, iron and potassium. They are low in sodium. One three-ounce serving, cooked and drained, contains 43 calories.(Source: www.plantanswers.tamu.edu)

Try some of these green recipes soon!

A.L.L.* Green Dressing

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Ingredients

Approximately 1/2-3/4 cup water
1 1/2 – 2 ripe medium-sized avocados
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lime
1-2 garlic cloves,minced
Spritz of tamari soy sauce or Bragg’s (soy) Aminos
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt & pepper to taste (optional)

Directions

1. Rinse and peel avocados. (I cut it in half lengthwise, strike the pit with a knife to remove it, then peel the skin or scoop out the fleshy insides with a spoon.)
2. In a blender or food processor, puree all the ingredients. Add more water if necessary to make the dressing pourable. (Depends on the size of your avocados.)
3. Chill and serve over salad, veggies, or grains.
Yield: 1 1/2- 2 cups dressing

Notes: Overnight the dressing may thicken in the ‘frig. Add a little more water if needed or use as a guacamole dip. For more zing! Use the juice of an entire lemon and an entire lime.
* A.L.L. stands for avocado, lemon, and lime.

Greens & Beans
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Ingredients

2-3 leaves of kale, washed, hard stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
2-3 leaves of collard greens, washed, hard stems removed and rolled and cut into thin slivers
6-7 slices of washed leek (white part) or 3-4 spring onions(scallions)
1-2 garlic cloves peeled & minced
one tsp. cumin powder
salt & pepper to taste (optional)
1-2 cups Edamame (green soy) beans, shelled*
one Tbl. olive oil

Directions

1. Cook kale in its own water in a saucepan for about 10 minutes to avoid bitter taste of final dish.(Water can be cooled and added to plants for extra nutrients.)
2. While kale is cooking in its own pot, in a larger pan, place garlic and leek slices and allow to cook for about two minutes, using a small amount of fresh water,
3. Add collards and cook for 5-10 minutes, until collards are soft. (Add more water if needed. You should use as little water as possible, so that all of it is absorbed in the final dish.)
3. With a slotted spoon, remove cooked kale from saucepan and place with the rest of the veggies. Add cumin; then add salt and pepper, if using. Cook another minute.
4. Remove from pot into a serving bowl. Toss with olive oil and serve hot.
*5. If using pre-cooked Edamame, available in supermarkets, add them to step three and just heat them. If using frozen shelled Edamame, available at Whole Foods, start cooking them with garlic and leeks in step two.

Note: While you can substitute spinach and chard for kale and collards, one of the health practitioners I met reminded me that spinach and kale contain oxalic acid, which hinders the absorption of calcium. She did not recommend it for me, since post-menopausal women are at risk for osteoporosis and need calcium to keep their bones strong.

Triple Green Delite

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(This is a dish I enjoy at our favorite Chinese restaurant. They use a garlic sauce which I cannot duplicate, so I use fresh garlic and ginger.)

Ingredients

8-10 asparagus spears, washed and with the ends snapped off
2 cups snow peas, rinsed and stringy ends removed, if necessary
2 baby bok choy, washed and cut in half lengthwise
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 package of Pete’s flavored tofu, cut into small triangles
sesame oil and sesame seeds (small amounts to taste)
Tamari soy sauce or Bragg’s (soy) Aminos

Directions

1. In a steamer or large flat-bottomed pan with 1-2 inches of water, bring water to a slow boil and then reduce heat; add garlic and ginger and cook one minute.
2. Next, place asparagus spears in the water and cook two-four minutes (The thicker the spears, the longer the cooking.)
3. Then, place snow peas gently on top of asparagus spears and cook another one to two minutes.
4. Next, add baby bok choy and tofu triangles, cover and cook for another two to three minutes, adding a couple of squirts of soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos.
5. Scoop veggies into a serving bowl. Toss with a few splashes of sesame oil, just enough to coat, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Note: Pete’s flavored tofu has several varieties. For this dish try thai-flavored or sesame ginger tofu. It is precooked and needs only to be heated a few minutes. Also, each of these veggies takes very little time to cook, unless the asparagus is very thick. If you do use pencil-thin asparagus, then cook less time until al dente, since the other veggies go on top and add to the final cooking time.

Irish Soda Bread
(Reprinted with permission from The Inn San Francisco, 943 So. Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94110; Tel: 415-641-0188; website:www.innSF.com. (My comments in italics.)

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Ingredients

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup plain flour (I used unbleached white)
2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 tsp. (aluminum-free) baking powder
one tsp. (sea) salt
one Tbl. sugar (I used fructose)
1/2 cup oats
2 cups buttermilk (or plain yogurt, thinned with water to equal 2 cups)

Directions

1. Mix dry ingredients together, add buttermilk (or thinned yogurt) to form dough.
2. Knead lightly into a ball and pat into a circle 2” thick. (Place on a baking sheet or pie plate coated with a thin layer of oil and sprinkled with flour or cornmeal.)
3. Cut a split across on the top (I made a large X) and bake 45 minutes at 425 degrees or until firm to touch.

Note: I added 2 tablespoons of dill week for a savory loaf and also to keep with the theme of green cuisine. I sprinkled one tablespoon into the dough and the other on top of the bread, once it was ready to go into the oven. Got good food reviews when I took it to a potluck dinner.

3 thoughts on “March: Green Cuisine

  1. Lovely recipes Ellen Sue – particularly the all-green dressing. Avocados are beautiful here in Australia at the moment, so I shall have to give that one a go.

    Last week I bought a bag of edamame beans. While I’ve had them in their pods at Japanese restaurants, I’ve never used them at home in cooking. Mixing with greens means this recipe packs quite a nutritional punch – plenty of protein, along with all those antioxidants and micronutrients! I shall be trying both these.

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