Make it a Daily Goal to get as many greens in as you can by including greens in every meal, starting with breakfast. It’s easy to make that a habit and teach your kids to do the same. Greens are very alkalizing to the body. When the body is in an acidic state the cells have a more difficult time repairing, the digestive tract can be damaged the immune system is challenged and things like viruses have an easier time flourishing. Foods that are more acidic are meats, cheese, coffee, sugar so it’s a great idea to always balance those foods with greens to help your body stay balanced.
One of the milder of the sturdy greens, collards are an excellent source of folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene. Collards are especially high in calcium.
Bok Choy is a Chinese variety of cabbage. It is an excellent source of vitamin C, beta- carotene and iron, as well as a good source of folate, vitamin B6 and calcium.
While sweet following a light frost, kale generally has a stronger flavor than collard greens and can be quite coarse and peppery when raw. The Lacinto (aka “dinosaur”) and red varieties are much more tender and less bitter than the more common curly leaf variety. To ensure a milder texture and flavor, choose smaller kale leaves. Marinating them softens them and makes them more tender. In addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C and beta-carotene, kale is also a good source of iron, vitamin B6, lutein and zeaxanthin.
Mustard greens have an even stronger flavor than kale, but milder varieties are grown in Asia and are sometimes available in the United States. They taste best when they are six to 12- inches long and have no seeds. They are best eaten in small quantities with a variety of other greens.
Swiss chard is a mild tasting green and is an excellent source of vitamin E, a nutrient that is usually only found in high-fat foods. It is also high in potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and beta-carotene. To preserve its crispness and sweetness, be sure to keep it chilled.
Spinach is another mild tasting green, and contains carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Besides carotenoids, spinach is higher in folate than other greens.
Rich in beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron and calcium, beet greens are often more nutritious than beets (with one exception: beets are higher in folate). They are best for eating when young and tender.
The leafy tops of turnips are one of the bitterest greens available, so they are not often eaten raw. Like beet greens, they are best for eating when they are quite young. Although both turnips and turnip greens are nutritious, the best source of vitamins and minerals is the greens, which are high in vitamin C, beta-carotene and folate.
Sea vegetables are very rich in nutrients and phytochemicals. Some, like kelp, dulse and sea palm are delicate enough to eat straight from the bag. Others like arame, wakame and hijiki become more tender and appealing when they soaked in water to soften. Still others like kombu are usually not eaten, but used as a flavoring in soups and salads.
The Incredible Health Benefits of Sea Vegetables
Sea vegetables are generally underutilized and under-appreciated in our Western Culinary regime. While there are thousands of different types of sea vegetables, we commonly use just a handful. For those who frequent Japanese restaurants, sushi and seaweed salad may be familiar menu items, but few, save for those on a macrobiotic diet, a raw foods diet or of Asian origin, serve these gems from the sea at home. They are simple to prepare and serve, and sea vegetables can add fun and diversity to your daily culinary repertoire. For example, the sweet, mild flavors of arame and wakame make them perfect choices for first timers.
Food manufacturers often use processed sea vegetables as thickeners or stabilizers in a variety of common products from instant pudding to toothpaste. As “hidden” ingredients, sea vegetables do not serve as significant nutritional values; however, as part of main meals, sea vegetables offer an abundance of otherwise hard to get nutrients.
Sea vegetables are loaded with chlorophyll, fiber, and minerals, including significant amounts of sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and many other trace minerals naturally found in the ocean. When reconstituted, sea vegetables expand three to seven times their original volume, so small amounts go a long way.
Available in dried form year-round, most sea vegetables are rehydrated before adding to salads, casseroles, or stir-fries. Some, like kelp, dulse, nori, and sea palm are delicate enough to eat straight from the bag. Others, like arame, wakame, and hijiki become more tender and appealing when soaked in water to soften. Still
others, like kombu, are usually used only as flavoring in dishes.
To make a basic sea vegetable salad, soak the sea vegetables in water to soften. Drain and reserve the soak water for future use. I usually do equal amounts of sea and land vegetation, usually carrots or cucumbers. Combine the sea vegetable with the land vegetable and pour a sauce or marinade over them. Let it stand at least 15 minutes to absorb flavor. If cooking, dried sea vegetables can be added directly to soups or stews and to the cooking liquid of beans or rice.
Minerals and Trace Elements in Sea Vegetables
Sea vegetables provide all 56 minerals and trace elements required for the human body’s physiological functions in quantities greatly exceeding those of land plants.
- About 1/3 cup (1/4 oz.) serving of dulse or kelp gives up to 30% of the RDA, 4 times the iron in spinach, and more than kidney beans, apricots, and peas
- Magnesium is twice as abundant in kelp and alaria as in collard greens, and exceeds walnuts, bananas, potatoes, oatmeal, and even sockeye salmon.
vegetables present these essential nutrients to your body in a chelated,
colloidal optimally balanced form so they are bio-available. Examples are:
- Calcium (for skeletal health, healthy heartbeat, nervous system function)
- Magnesium (activates enzymatic activity, essential for healthy heartbeat)
- Potassium (naturally prevents high blood pressure, provides cellular energy)
- Sodium (essential for the correct balance of body fluids – our internal “ocean”)
- Iron (as hemoglobin, transports and distributes oxygen to all your cells)
elements are especially essential to the countless enzymatic functions
constantly occurring in your body. Examples are:
- Chromium (works with insulin to regulate blood sugar)
- Iodine (thyroid health)
- Copper (protects nerve sheaths, builds supple arteries, required for iron absorption)
- Iodine in Sea Vegetables
- Dr. Ryan Drum, noted herbalist and sea vegetable gatherer, states in Therapeutic Use of Seaweeds (Proceedings of the 2001 Pacific Northwest Herbal Symposium) “Seaweeds, eaten regularly, are the best natural food sources of biomolecular dietary iodine… no land plants are reliable sources of dietary iodine.”
- You’d have to eat about 40 lb. of fresh vegetables and/or fruits to get as much iodine as you would from 1 gram of our whole leaf kelp. Unfortunately, not all iodine is good for us and the human thyroid cannot distinguish between life sustaining iodine-127 and radioactive iodine- 131.
- Ryan Drum warns, “The real reason for making sure that iodine consumption is at the high end is to insure a full body complement of iodine at all times as preventative medicine against the next nuclear disasters [whether from intentional radioactive pollution as the result of armed conflict or terrorism, nuclear power plant failures, or industrial contamination]. A full body load of iodine 127 from seaweeds (or any source) will tend to allow the body to reject topical and air and food-source iodine 131, particularly from fresh milk.”
- In general, brown sea vegetables (kelps) offer more bio-available organic iodine than red sea vegetables (dulse, laver, and nori).
- We need between 150 and 1,100 micrograms in our daily diets to keep our thyroids healthy and prevent uptake of radioactive Iodine. Healthy thyroids will “spill” unneeded iodine. But some people with sensitive thyroids, particularly nursing mothers, postmenopausal women, or anyone with an unusual thyroid dysfunction may have adverse reactions to excess dietary iodine (most often, if you decrease the intake of dietary iodine the condition goes away.) Consult with your health care practitioner if you have any questions about your consumption of iodine.
Basic Green Drink
- leafy greens on hand such as dark green lettuces, kale, spinach, parsley, or any others
- enough water for blending
- Place a handful of
green leafy vegetables in the blender.
- Cover with water and blend until vegetables are completely pureed. Add enough water
to fill the blender and blend until vegetables are completely dissolved.
- Pour liquid into a 1.5
to 2quart container and fill with water.
- Shake well before drinking.
- Sip throughout the day in place of water.
Note: Adding fresh ginger root, lemon or mint to the blend adds a nice flavor. The resulting beverage should be a pale green, translucent color.