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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!

hemp protein smoothie

hemp seeds

I know, it’s fall and there’s a distinct chill in the air. If you live in the high country, you might even have a skiff of snow on the ground. Not exactly smoothie weather, but my detox buddy and I have been doing a fall cleanse for the past three weeks and smoothies have been a major part of our diet. Although I didn’t have the time this fall to document our progress like I did last spring, the results have been the same. I’ve lost a few pounds and feel light, healthy, energetic and rejuvenated. In fact, even though I do this every spring and fall, I’m always struck by how good I can feel. It’s a twice-yearly reminder to reset my health goals and pay attention to how I treat myself. Everything we eat, drink, breathe and absorb through our skin must be dealt with by the body. We’re exposed to a long list of icky environmental toxins on a daily basis. Periodic cleansing gives the body a chance to sort through the muck and unload some of that toxic burden that has accumulated over time. Every system and organ in the body is impacted by what we eat, but the liver is the workhorse. Periodic cleansing gives it a chance to catch up on its workload and regenerate, which is vital to overall wellness. 

This smoothie is filled with antioxidant goodness, high-quality protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids to boost health and combat free-radical damage. Hemp is one of nature’s best plant-based protein sources, containing all the essential amino acids the body needs. And no, you won’t flunk a drug test if you’ve had a hemp smoothie for breakfast. I’m a product of the sixties, a hippie-girl at heart, so the word “hemp” brings to mind marijuana, peace, love and tie-dyes. Having said that, I never inhaled. 

Marijuana and hemp both come from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa L., but from different varieties. There are different breeds of dogs in the Canis familiari group – think Chihuahuas and my guy, Fairbanks. This is no different. Hemp protein powder and marijuana are not the same, so don’t worry that you’ll start wearing bell bottoms and sporting flowers in your hair. Or singing old Janis Joplin or Jefferson Airplane songs. Not that that’s a bad thing. “Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know.”

Quick, what’s that song?

the word 'hemp' isolated on white

hemp protein smoothie
what you need

2 ripe pears *
2 cups Romaine lettuce or spinach
1 ripe banana *
1 cup goat kefir or goat yogurt
1 cup coconut water
1/4 cup shredded raw zucchini
1/4 cup berries (any kind, organic preferred, frozen is fine)
3 tablespoons hemp protein powder
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon

what you do
Wash and cut fruit, throw it in the blender with the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Makes 2 BIG servings or 4 small ones. If you don’t have this mix of ingredients, make up your own. Color outside the lines! Some of these ingredients were from my weekly CSA share. This is a great way to use fruit that is on the far-side of mid-life.

* Overly-ripe fruit is actually better in some ways, especially in smoothies. Ripe bananas are more alkalizing, green bananas are more acidic. Which foods give you the best chance for a healthy pH balance is for another post, but this is a good way to add alkalizing foods to the diet (that’s a good thing), so don’t toss overly ripe bananas. Use them in smoothies. 

A sampling of nutritional highlights
Pears are in season now and full of vitamin C and copper, both of these nutrients help protect cells from free-radical damage. High in fiber and considered a “hypoallergenic” fruit, pears are not only healthy, but creamy and delicious as well.
Romaine lettuce is packed with nutrient goodness and contain only 7 or 8 calories per cup. You get a lot of bang for your buck with Romaine, but make it organic as the Environmental Working Group lists lettuce as one of the “dirty dozen” on their shopper’s guide to pesticides
Pumpkin seeds are rich in anti-inflammatory properties, which may be protective against arthritis and joint inflammation. Guys – pumpkin seeds contain a rich blend of health-promoting minerals, including zinc which helps protect your “boy” parts and your bones. An American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study found a connection between low zinc levels and osteoporosis of the hip and spine. We always think of osteoporosis as a female condition, but it can be a problem for older men as well. 
Cinnamon contains unique essential oils that are anti-microbial and help balance yeast and bacteria in the intestinal tract. In addition, cinnamon helps balance blood sugar levels and is rich in fiber, iron, manganese and even calcium. Plus, cinnamon is sweet and tasty. I add it to everything I can think of.

For more cleansing information, check these posts from last spring; cleanse introduction, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7, and a cleanse wrap-up

Go forth and power up your smoothies! Singing songs from the sixties is optional. 

veggie match-stick salad


I’m not a huge radish fan, but I do like them mixed in with other veggies of similar consistency. This dish was a result of too many radishes, some extra kohlrabi and a desire to come up with a good traveling salad. I made a big batch of it a couple of days ago and have eaten it plain (as above), over lettuce, chopped up and added to egg salad and as a side dish to salmon and brown rice. I even brought a batch of it along on a hike yesterday. It’s versatile, easy to make, colorful and tasty. What more could you ask for in a veggie combo?

what you need (any variation is fine, this is a “launching pad” recipe)
2 – 3 carrots, washed and cut into match-stick pieces (click here for “how-to” video)
1/2 cup jicama, peeled and chopped
5 – 6 radishes, washed and chopped *
1 apple, washed and chopped
1 – 2 kohlrabi bulbs, trimmed, peeled and chopped
1 medium zucchini, washed and chopped
chopped parsley or mint

* My CSA delivery has included radishes the past 2 weeks. They’re Japanese radishes (or French breakfast radishes?) and are longer than the round version, making them perfect for matchstick salads.

what you do
Prepare your veggies of choice. Place in medium sized bowl and toss with dressing of choice. I used my default dressing and added some raisins, parsley and a touch of mint. The tea is chocolate mint tea, made sun-tea style. Yum!

default dressing
whisk together (store in glass jar and use as needed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave nectar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

ways to use your radishes
Radishes are great added to salads (garden salads, egg salad, potato salad or cold slaw) and are perfect in stir fries, soups and stews. They can also be sautéed in better or oil and served with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and herbs.

Go forth and match-stick your veggies.

purple mizuna with cherries, walnuts & dates


How does my garden grow?

Lets put it this way – I’m counting on my friends at Grant Family Farms to grow most of my food for the next 26 weeks. I can come up with creative ways to prepare fresh food (again, with a little help from my friends), but I’d starve if I had to rely on my own wimpy garden to get me through the summer. My CSA delivery starts next Monday and I’ll be posting weekly recipes according to the harvest. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I’ve been watching my little organic garden thrive in spite of my dog’s initial digging interest, the recent rain and hail we’ve had and a few overly enthusiastic wild bunnies. The photo above is of one of my four purple mizuna plants. My micro-victory garden is .00229568415ths of an acre. Seriously.

Urban gardening at the nano-level.

I didn’t make that number up, I actually figured it out. Of course, I could be totally wrong. It’s not like I went to MIT or anything. Within seconds of square feet conversion calculating, I was having synapse spasms, but I pushed on and I think I’m right.

Although I won’t have much of a “harvest” per se, working my little .002295-whatever of an acre has been very rewarding. I’m feeling like quite the little farmer-ette. Today I made a wonderful mizuna salad for lunch. I walked outside, clipped off some leaves and made my lunch. Oh my gosh, I love that feeling. Zena, Farmer Princess.

Purple mizuna is a Japanese salad green that I find to have a mild earthy taste. Maybe it’s a mild spicy taste. Or a mild peppery taste. I can’t really identify it.

* Cid, can you help me with this since you’re the expert on all things Japanese? What does it taste like? Other than good.

Purple mizuna salad
I made this up with ingredients that were sitting on my counter and it turned out delicious. The fresh cherries, dates and walnuts made this mix a winner. Crumbled goat cheese or feta would be a nice addition.

2 cups mizuna greens
mejool dates (I used 3, pitted and chopped)
fresh cherries (I used about 8, pitted and cut in half)
walnuts (4-6 chopped)
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
drizzle with dressing

dressing (any good vinaigrette will do, this is just one of my regular versions)
whisk together
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave nectar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Go forth and grow your own greens!

*Thanks Kay, for all your gardening tips and guidance. Kay is a blogger friend who is a master gardener, composter extraordinaire, worm rancher (or something like that), chicken herder and all around hard-working farm girl. She’s my gluten-free garden guru.

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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