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Natural Year Challenge: Food - Month Four

Learn Your GreensLeafy Greens

Dark leafy greens are among the most nutrient-dense of all plant foods. They offer a natural form of folate (as opposed to folic acid, which is a synthetic version often found in vitamins and fortified foods).

Greens can be intimidating, however. What can we do with leafy greens besides throw them in a salad? What if I don't have a juicer? Which greens are the most nutritious?

When it comes to lettuce, the greener the leaf, the greater the nutrition. Greens such as Swiss chard, collards, dandelion, and beet greens provide beta carotene, vitamins A and C, chlorophyll, and calcium. Other nutritious greens include turnip and mustard greens, lamb’s quarters, spinach, and arugula.

Your yard may offer healthy greens! See the Eat the Weeds website to find out more.

All plants contain certain antinutrients which are advantageous to the plant, but can be problematic for those who eat them. Oxalates, present in many leafy greens, are naturally occurring substances which link with calcium to form crystals. For the plant, oxalate crystals tear up the "teeth" of the insects that might eat them, sending the bugs elsewhere. For humans, these crystals are normally handled quite well, but when health is compromised, these oxalates may be absorbed and cause kidney stones and other problems. For more information on oxalates, see this website.

To store greens, wrap them in a damp towel and place in an open plastic bag in the crisper section of your refrigerator. Some greens may do better in perforated plastic bags. Greens can store nicely for up to a week. It's best to wash your greens before using rather than before storing.

The options are endless for utilizing these powerhouses of nutrition! Here are five fun ways to integrate dark leafy greens into your diet.

  1. Light cooking. The amount of cooking time will depend on the thickness of the leaf. Some greens may be cooked in butter or another stable oil for less than a minute. Others will be better with 1/2 c. broth or other liquid and left to simmer for 20 minutes. Here is one suggested recipe:
    • 2 tbsp. red palm oil, butter, ghee, or cooking oil of choice
    • 2 bunches fresh kale (can substitute Swiss chard)
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    Remove kale stems. Cut leaves into thin strips. Heat oil and sauté onions and garlic until tender. Add small amount of water and cover. Cook until kale is tender (approx. 5 minutes).
  2. Salads. The key to experimenting with greens in this manner is the salad dressing. Here is a simple, nutritious recipe:
    • 1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard (Annie's Naturals offers one with no preservatives or additives. We'll be making lacto-fermented mustard in our Month Ten Challenge.)
    • 2 tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
    • 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tsp. expeller-pressed flax oil
    Combine mustard and vinegar. Add olive oil slowly, stirring with fork until well emulsified. Add flax oil.
  3. Green juice. A juicer such as the Vitamix, Omega, or Green Star is optimal. However, any high-powered blender can make delicious green juice. Simply throw in any desired greens, an apple and/or lemon for flavor, a small slice of raw ginger, and blend. Strain through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Enjoy!
  4. Green pulp. Because most juicers/blenders don't extract all of the nutrients, the remaining pulp contains fiber and nutrition. This pulp can be used in a variety of ways:
    • Add to meatloaf or sausage. Include pulp when mixing in any spices, onions, etc.
    • Stir-fry the pulp with desired seasonings.
    • Add to fresh homemade guacamole.
    • Add salad dressing (recipe above) and eat raw.
    • Add to your dog's food bowl!
  5. Dehydrated greens. The possibilities are endless, but here are two suggestions:
    • Pulp crackers. Juice pulp can be blended with favorite spices, flax seeds, and water and dehydrated for a crisp, healthy snack. Try this recipe!
    • Kale chips. Remove kale from stems. Tear into pieces and toss with olive oil and salt. Dehydrate for 3-6 hours. (Spinach makes a wonderful substitute.)

In the following video, Andrea demonstrates green juicing, cooking with kale,
and incorporating green pulp into a meat dish.

Quotes

"I'm new at this, but today I cleaned my bathroom with baking soda and vinegar. It's much better not having those strong chemical smells afterwards."

– Anonymous

"The entire time we lived in our (mold-infested) house the kitchen sponge would get musty smelling within 3-4 days. It was so strange. I had to buy a pack of sponges nearly every week."

– Anonymous

"I've been living in a mold-infested home for 13 months... I was going CRAZY! Finally figured it out... Just a few days of recovering in a mold-free home and I feel AMAZING!!!"

– Lauren

"Our family has been out of our home for 9 months due to mold... I am so scared and weak from all of this. We have lost friends; family members don't understand."

– Anonymous

"I had been struggling with headaches, head fog, breathing difficulties (unable to get a full breath), constant scalp tingling, migraines, nausea, feeling spacey/detached, and severe itchy skin."

– Anonymous

"I have been sick for almost 6 months now and doctors were not able to figure out why. I finally put it all together after going away for vacation for a week and suddenly my symptoms were going away."

– Anonymous

"We had some water leaks in our home... we never thought we needed to clean out and remove the floor, the ceiling, or the drywall... my two small children and I have remained constantly sick for years in this home."

– Mia

"I knew it was mold, but doctors kept telling me I had anxiety. I was sitting in my office and could not remember who I was talking to, or what we were talking about."

– Brenda

"We all suffered from headaches, hormonal body temperature fluctuations, brain fog, fatigue, difficulty breathing, thrush, rashes, and yeast infections... we vacated our home two weeks ago."

– Anonymous

"My daughter has had many blood samples taken to test for everything imaginable and her doctor just seems puzzled. Everything comes back normal."

– Anonymous

"We were having a lot of health problems and had been to the doctor countless times... we had large circles of slimy greenish-black mold on the bathroom ceiling, where it had caved in a few months before."

– C.

"In my moldy home if I left the wet clothes in the washer they would get musty very quickly and I'd have to re-wash... Sometimes I'd run a load, go to work, and they'd be musty when I returned that evening."

– Anonymous

"Both of my sons went downhill quickly and coughed for months... They both lost their ability to read, had profound vision disturbances, and had phenomenal gastric issues."

– Lee

"...at age 35 or 36 I started to become allergic to everything, and I got asthma at age 36... I went to doctor after doctor after doctor and was desperate for help, but nobody could help me."

– Mia

"My symptoms persisted and eventually turned into lethargy and depression. At the age of 26, I required a nap every evening after work."

– Jennifer

"My daughter started having digestive problems... heart palpitations... coughing episodes... muscle/joint pain... asthma/allergies... Her doctor finally advised me to check for mold in our home."

– Anonymous

"The ERMI mold test as well as your helpful articles and Toxic Talk Tuesday programs have helped us avoid a terrible mistake in purchasing a new home."

– Angela

"I started finding myself sitting on the floor in rooms of my house and not remembering how I got there, what I was doing before, or how long I had been there."

– Brenda

"I was skeptical at first that these (natural cleaning) products would work, but they work better than the stuff I buy at the store! We will soon be moving to the personal care products as well!"

– Jennifer

Dedication