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raw power greens

To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art. – Duc Fransois de La Rochefoucauld

Duc Fransois de La Rochedfoucauld, aka Prince de Marcillac, was a writer of mildly cynical and somewhat pithy maxims. He was born in Paris in 1613, hung around the royal court and spent most of his time making snippy comments about what he saw as the disturbing state of human affairs. Considered an intellectual harbinger of the Enlightenment – I imagine him as a 17th century Dennis Miller with an over-the-top, hoity-toity name. Much more uppity and not as funny as Dennis, but concise, satirical and witty nonetheless.

While I don’t always eat intelligently, I like this general maxim. It’s a good reminder and is there a better way to eat intelligently than to choose nutrient-dense, vibrant, unprocessed, living plants? Like the ones featured above. Look at the colors. You can literally see the phytonutrients, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll.

Okay, maybe seeing vitamins and enzymes is a stretch, but you can guess by looking at these greens that they’re full of nourishing goodness. Plus, they’re low in calories and alkalizing to the body. This is perfect food.

Now compare that to a donut or a plastic-wrapped sweet-roll from a gas station vending machine.

Which one is the artfully intelligent choice?

This photo is of the 3 cups of mixed greens I used to make power smoothies this morning, wonder woman and super man food. It’s a smart way to start the day, even if it doesn’t match up with the new USDA MyPlate thing the government designed to help us figure out how to feed ourselves?


We’ve “evolved” to the point that we need a plate icon with food on it to show us what to eat?

I’ll bite my tongue, keep my snippy, food irony comments to myself and offer you a power greens guide to ease your transition into the world of nutrient-dense green food.

Power Greens Flavor & Nutrition Guide
This is the abridged version. If I included every green I could think of and all the nutrient goodness, this post would be a mile long. What’s your favorite power green and how do you like to serve it? Add it to the list in the comment section.

Swiss chard
Chard has a slightly bitter taste, so when I use it raw in smoothies I add something sweet like a Fuji apple to counterbalance the bitterness. It also has a very salty taste to me when pulverized in my VitaMix, so I like cinnamon mixed in. One cup of chard is off-the-charts high in vitamin K, A and C, along with a host of other botanical wonders. All for a measly 35 calories.

Spinach is mild, slightly bitter and versatile. It’s a good power green to add to kid-friendly smoothies as it’s fairly easy to hide if you add a pear or ripe banana and a little goat yogurt into the mix. Speaking of vitamins K and A, one cup of spinach has 1110% (K) and 377% (A) of the recommended daily values. Add in the high concentration of folate, iron, vitamin C, potassium, etc. and there’s a lot of bang for your 41-calorie-buck in a cup of spinach.

Kale is a little confusing. It has a mildly bitter taste, but it can also taste slightly sweet. It’s hearty (and hardy) and full of volume, if that makes sense. The power green nutrition profiles just keep getting better. One 36-calorie cup of kale gives you almost 200% of the daily value of vitamin A, close to 100% of vitamin C and a whopping 1328% of vitamin K. It even contains a jolt of omega 3 fatty acids.

Mustard Greens
Swiss chard tastes salty and mustard greens have a strong, peppery taste. If you use these in a smoothie, mix a small amount in with some lighter greens like romaine lettuce or spinach. Warning: don’t use raw arugula and mustard greens together! Whoa, that makes for an intense smoothie with a peppery kick. You get the idea on the nutrition part. Most leafy greens are ridiculously high in all kinds of powerful nutrients and mustard greens are no exception.

Turnip Greens
I’ll admit, not my favorite. Especially raw, turnip greens have a intense and bitter taste. They’re very high in plant-based calcium, which may account for the bitter bite. Only 26 calories per cup, they’re worth adding to your arsenal of power greens, but go easy on them and mix them in with some milder vegetables and sweeter fruits to mask the bitterness. Turnip greens are great sautéed lightly in a little broth.

Collard Greens
Aside from the “rubber glove” texture of collard greens, I like these greens for their mild and somewhat smoky flavor. They’re absolutely wonderful blanched quickly, cooled, dried and used as a wrap for chicken salad. You can also add some chopped collard greens to smoothies, but do it in small doses to see how you like them.

Romaine Lettuce
Mild, crisp and somewhat sweet. I love Romaine. This is a perfect “beginner” green and blends in well with other veggies and fruit for a nice mellow smoothie. It’s perfect raw, but I’ve also lightly sautéed lettuce before and it tastes great. Romaine is the low calorie winner at 15 calories for 2 cups and while it’s not the power-house that kale or Swiss chard is, it’s a rich source of plant nutrients.

Arugula, also called rocket or Italian cress, is a touch spicy with a hint of mustard. It’s best mixed in with some milder greens for a salad as it tastes bitter by itself. It can also be used in small doses in smoothies and is wonderful sautéed or thrown into a soup at the last minute. I like it on pizza with olives and sliced tomatoes. Like the rest of these greens, arugula is very low in calories, high in antioxidants, is low glycemic, anti-inflammatory and even has a little protein, calcium and iron.

Tatsoi is part of the bok choy family and although it’s slightly bitter (not bad), it’s excellent in a tossed salad, lightly sautéed or as part of a green smoothie mix. Because of it’s dark green leaves, like the rest of these, it’s rich in antioxidants and is even a good source of calcium and iron. Sauté it with some onions and garlic and serve it with brown rice. It makes for a wonderful “Buddha bowl.”

Frisée is that curly, lighter green lettuce that is often added to mixed salad greens. It’s not as hardy as kale, spinach and the other more intense greens. It will even wilt if you put vinegar on it, so wait until the last minute to dress your salads if frisée is part of the mix. It has a mild, very slight peppery taste with a nutty hint to it. It pairs well with bananas and berries in a smoothie (I’m sounding like a leaf sommelier). For a delicious summer salad, try a bed of frisée topped with roasted and sliced beets, pecans, crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of vinaigrette. Divine.

Here’s a great resource for greens and herbs, complete with pictures so you’ll know which green is which.

You might also like
Green Lemonade from Elana’s Pantry
Spicy Kale Salad with tomatoes and chiles from Tasty Eats At Home
Raw Super Green Salad from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen

Peace, love and power greens!

farmer tacos


These were so good that I’m just going to skip the prelude and get right to the point.

I went for a 4 mile power walk/hike early this morning and was starving when I got home. My 5 AM apple with almond butter lasted long enough to finish my hike, but that was it. Okay, so I’m not getting to the point, but I’ll be there soon.

This week’s Grant Farms CSA bounty was a bit overwhelming. Actually, seriously overwhelming, so now I’m refusing to go anywhere near a market. I can’t spend money on store-bought food when I have all these fresh, local veggies laying claim to every square inch of my refrigerator.

So, what’s for lunch (10 AM lunch)?

Kale tacos!
What you need

squash, chopped in small chunks (I used half of a large zucchini-type squash)
1 medium tomato, diced
4-6 large kale leaves, stems removed, leaves chopped into 2 inch chunks
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped in small chunks
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon red chile pepper flakes
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
corn taco shells
sea salt

what you do
Preheat oven to 400 and place taco shells on a cookie sheet, set aside for now. It only takes a few minutes to heat the shells, so plan to put them in the oven when you’re almost finished making the taco fixings.
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, squash and green pepper, stir-fry for 3 to 5 minutes until veggies are semi-tender. Add kale and continue stirring so it has a chance to get covered with the olive oil and cook down a bit (another 3 minutes or so). Place taco shells in the oven and set timer for 4 minutes. Next add the tomatoes, beans and crushed red pepper to the taco mixture; continue stirring until all ingredients are hot. Season with salt. Serve in heated taco shells, top with small amount of grated cheese (optional). Makes 4 to 6 tacos depending on how big the shells are and how packed you cram them.

This was a surprise hit. Gourmet Magazine, here I come. I might even serve them for dinner tonight.

Go forth and play with your food!

make me a happy camper

Go ahead honey, it’s gluten-free!


Health-promoting homeopath and fetching superhero-ette, Naomi, of Straight Into Bed Cakefree and Dried fame, is the creative spark behind the “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free” recipe event. Every month it’s my intention to participate and every month I pout and stomp my feet (superhero style) when I realize I missed the deadline again. Shirley of Gluten-Free Easily is the event hostess this month and I know if I don’t get with it and participate, she’ll give me all kinds of gluten-free grief.

Plus, Shirley picked something that’s right up my alley (err, I mean trail) — gluten-free camp food. Last summer my son and I backpacked half the Colorado Trail (close to 250 miles) and I pre-made and dehydrated all our dinners, so this assignment is perfect for me. It’s also a great way to use up all my CSA kale and collard greens. I love the stuff, but my gosh, my hair’s turning green.

Unfortunately, most of my recipes are in my head, made up as I go, or scribbled on the back of bank statements. I’m not the most organized cook, that’s why I call half of my recipes “launching pad” creations. The two I’m featuring here are in that category. Adjust and change ingredients to your liking.

Melissa’s mile high trail mix
what you need
dry ingredients
1 box Perky’s Nutty Rice or Nutty Flax crunchy cereal
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup sunflower seeds

wet ingredients
1/3 cup almond butter
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
dash salt
coconut oil for greasing the pan
dried fruit *

* Gently blend in chunks of dried fruit after the mix has been cooked and cooled. I use a combination of unsulphured papaya, pineapple, mango, ginger, cranberries and/or raisins.

what you do
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Use 2 racks placed in the middle of the oven. Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently. Combine wet ingredients in a medium sized saucepan over low-medium heat; whisk/stir constantly until well blended and bubbly. Bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. It will have a semi set-up texture.

Drizzle blended wet mixture over dry ingredients and stir gently until all of it has been mixed in. Spread out on 2 large, lightly greased cookie sheets and place one on each oven rack – unless you can get both cookie sheets on one rack in the middle of the oven. I just stack the two and use my convection setting, but a regular oven setting works just fine. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes, remove and gently stir (try to keep clustered bunches intact). Return to oven. If you are using two racks, switch the cookie sheets and alternate putting one on the top rack and one on the rack below. Continue baking for another 45 minutes or so; taking time to remove, check, and gently stir every 6 to 8 minutes. Alternate cookie sheet placement each time. Mixture should be a uniform golden brown color. Depending on your oven temperature, this should take a total about 40 to 60 minutes of bake time. Carefully watch how the mixture browns as oven temperatures vary and this stuff can burn quickly. Keep an eye on it. Don’t wander off and forget!


Cool completely. After the mixture has cooled, you can add the dried fruit. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator when not on the trail.

Garlic potato, kale and chicken backpacking soup
what you need
1 bunch kale
instant garlic mashed potatoes
instant chicken base
dried herbs of choice (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, mixed Italian herbs)

Wash, chop and dehydrate kale according to your dehydrator directions. Using a medium sized bowl, combine garlic mashed potatoes flakes, chicken base granules and dried kale. Add salt, fresh ground black pepper and dried herbs of choice; blend well and place in ziplock bags. I use one package of Hearthland Foods garlic mashed potatoes (4.5 ounces), 6 to 8 heaping teaspoons of Vogue Cuisine instant chicken broth base, one bunch of dehydrated kale, assorted dried herbs, sea salt and ground pepper to make 2 very large soup dinners for backpacking (or 4 smaller meals). This is a fast and nutritious meal while on the trail as all you need is boiling water. Shake some of the soup mix into your camp mug or bowl, add boiling water and stir gently. Adjust water depending on the consistency you want. I like it very thick and creamy, like a potato bisque. I’ve also dehydrated celery leaves and added those to the mix. Be creative and enjoy!



You might also like the Colorado Trail part 1, part 2 and part 3, or nutrition for the backcountry, or I see no good reason to act my age.

Go forth and be a happy camper!

it’s raining kale (sweet potato & kale soup)


This is what the inside of my refrigerator looks like.

Okay, I’m exaggerating — I took this photo at my local organic market a couple of months ago. But I am busy trying to figure out what to do with all the beets and kale that have been spilling forth from my CSA box the last couple of weeks. Soup isn’t what comes to mind when it’s 85 degrees out, but Ali’s recent cream of mushroom version inspired me to break out the soup pot and simmer away.

sweet potato & kale soup
what you need

• 1 bunch kale, washed, dried and chopped (heavy stems removed)
• 4 cups chicken broth (homemade or 1 box Imagine organic chicken broth)
• 4 cups water
• 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes (I ended up with about 2 cups chopped)
• 1 can Eden Organic Pizza/Pasta Sauce (this tomato and herb sauce adds a perfect richness to the soup)
• 1 can white beans, cannellini or great northern
• 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
• 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
• sausage (I threw in 2 links of chicken sausage, chopped in medallion-type chunks)
• grated parmesan cheese
• salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
• oil for frying (I use coconut oil, use whatever your oil of choice is)

what you do
Heat 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil on medium heat in a good sized stock pot. Brown sausage, add onions and garlic and stir until tender. Add chicken broth, water and the can of Eden Pasta sauce. Stir well to blend ingredients. Add chopped sweet potatoes and simmer for 45 minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Add beans, kale and herbs and simmer for another 10 minutes or so. Kale should be cooked, but still have some “freshness” to it. I like to add greens at the end and simmer for a few minutes so they maintain some substance. Ladle into serving bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese.

Herb ideas — the Eden pizza/pasta sauce is a great addition to this soup and contains the perfect herb mix. I keep a couple of cans of this rich, thick, organic sauce on hand at all times. It’s a quick way to add depth and flavor to soups and stews. If you want, simply expand on that flavor combination with more of the same herb blend (oregano, thyme, basil).

You might also like:
beans and collard greens recipe
mineral-rich kale chips
poached eggs on kale
kale, chard and mushroom lasagna

Go forth and green up your life!

kale, chard and mushroom lasagna


Those of us on the Farmer’s Market or CSA circuit here in the Rocky Mountains are being bombarded with seasonal greens right now. My goal is to eat everything – no waste, no carting stuff off to the compost pile.

I’m on a mission, but my gosh, these pesky greens aren’t making it easy. Plus, I got all caught up in the whole “victory garden” thing and had to plant a few of my own veggies and herbs.

What was I thinking?

First off, when you live a short distance from one of the best organic farms in the country, with farmers who’ve been growing fresh produce for decades, why would I want to bother with doing this myself? I have so little free time as it is and to spend it weeding and tending my nano-acre of produce seems silly. Having said that, I’m thoroughly enjoying my dozen or so plants, even though my lettuce bolted and my rhubarb got hail damage. I have more weeds than produce and something is snacking on my veggies when I’m not around.

This is a good lesson (well, sort of, the weeding part I could do without). I have a tendency to be very picky about what I eat and have a basic list of things I find important when choosing my food. Freshness, organically grown, seasonal, as local as possible (I do cheat though, my addiction to Fuji apples trumps all else). But I like knowing where my food comes from.

Whoa, all that’s well and good until I actually tried growing that food I’m so darn picky about. Please see my food pyramid remix list of healthy eating tips for details.

Bottom line? Growing organic food is not easy and wasting it is bad karma. But, discovering new ways to use farm-fresh ingredients can be a delightful, healthy and rewarding experience. From garlic scape pesto to dairy-free beet ice cream, I have a ball playing with my food. And to be honest, I’m thrilled to have someone else growing it for me. It’s also less expensive in the long run.

Now, on to those pesky greens.

One more thing (always), please keep in mind that most of my recipes are just plain my way of messing with food. I don’t follow rules well and I don’t measure things, so my recipes are guidelines. I make stuff up, so beware.

kale, chard and mushroom lasagna
what you need

4 cups washed, dried and chopped kale *
3-4 cups washed, dried and chopped chard (that’s how much I had in my garden)
2 cups mushrooms (I used 12 crimini mushrooms), washed and sliced
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1 package Tinkyada organic brown rice pasta (lasagna version)
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
8 ounces ricotta cheese
shredded parmesan
1 jar (25.5 ounces) Muir Glen Organic Garden Vegetable Pasta Sauce
1 can Muir Glen Organic Chunky Tomato Sauce *
2-3 tablespoons of oil (I use coconut oil) for sautéing vegetables
salt and pepper to taste

what you do
Prepare pasta per directions, but cook a couple minutes less than indicated. Set aside. Heat oil in large skillet. Sauté onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes, add mushrooms, stir gently for another couple of minutes. Add greens and stir until partially wilted (it doesn’t take long). Remove from heat.
Spread a small amount (maybe 1/3) of sauce into an ungreased baking dish (I used a large round dish, but a 11 x 7 x 2 size is typical). Layer half the lasagna noodles on the sauce and add a little more sauce. Spread the vegetable mixture over the sauce and top with dollops of ricotta, half the mozzerrela and some shredded parmasean. Add another layer of noodles and the rest of the sauce. Top with dollops of ricotta, the rest of the shredded mozerello and parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Remove foil for last 10 minutes or so to brown the cheese. Keep and eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Let sit for a few minutes to settle. This was absolutely delicious!

* You can use all kale or a mixture of any hearty greens (chard, spinach). They cook down quite a bit, so 7 or 8 cups of prepared greens really isn’t that much.
* I mixed in the extra can of tomato sauce with the pasta sauce because I was afraid the one 25 ounce jar wouldn’t be enough and I was right.


Go forth and eat your greens! And hug a farmer.
P.S. Stay tuned for a rhubarb recipe and another garlic scape creation.

poached eggs on kale


When your refrigerator is stocked with beautiful local greens and farm fresh eggs and you know you’ve got another load coming in a few days, you need to get creative with your meals. I’m eating kale, spinach, collard greens and lettuce in some form at almost every meal. Ah, but I’m not complaining.

I’m a fan of a hearty breakfast for a variety of reasons. If you start your day with a nourishing mix of healthy carbs, good fats and quality protein, your energy levels stay balanced and you don’t crash an hour after eating (you know, the high-impact donut-dive). When you start your day with real food, you think better, feel better and have more energy. And without that creamed-filled donut and mega-grande latte, you probably look better, too. You’re also less likely to gain weight if you eat a nourishing breakfast. All good reasons. If you’re a CSA member and are being bombarded with greens, a hearty breakfast is a good way to chip away at the volume.

Poached eggs on kale
what you need

2 cups organic kale
your choice of whole grain (gluten-free) toast *
pastured, organic eggs *

what you do
Wash kale well and separate stems from leaves. I use both as I like the crunchy ribs as well as the hearty leaves. Cut stems in 1 inch chunks and chop leaves into sections. Place one tablespoon coconut oil (or your oil of choice) in medium-sized skillet over low heat. Add the kale stems and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until slightly tender. Add leaves, stir gently for another 3 or 4 minutes. If the pan is too dry, add a splash of broth.*

While greens are cooking, poach two eggs in a small pan of water and toast your bread. Layer greens on toast, top with poached eggs. Finish off with fresh ground pepper and salt.

* I don’t eat bread very often, but there is nothing better than a poached egg on toast so I keep a loaf of gluten-free teff bread in the freezer. Teff is a powerful little grain; for more information, check here.

* I have a year-round egg share from Grant Farms and can’t imagine eating store-bought eggs. Seriously, there’s a HUGE difference in taste and quality. Plus, I like knowing my eggs come from hens living in style at the bird spa. Check here for detailed information.

* I always have a good-quality home-made or store bought broth in my fridge for sautéing veggies. It’s a healthy way to cook greens and great for making rice.

Here’s a nutrition profile for kale, courtesy of Nutrition Data. It’s good stuff.



Go forth and eat a hearty green breakfast!

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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