Why is it that we use holidays as an excuse to overload ourselves with toxic, nutrient-depleting sweets and other junk food? Saint Patrick’s day doesn’t need to be centered around overloading ourselves with fake-dye, green junk food. This post isn’t centered on sweet treats, but is focused on delicious, nutrient-dense green foods.
My favorite things about St. Patrick’s Day this year are the lengthening days, the promises of spring in the budding crocuses, and cabbage. I LOVE cabbage, in part because I love all green food.
This year I’m dining at Audrienne’s house for St Patty’s Day. Audrienne is one of my Dietitian buddies who specializes in renal (kidney) nutrition. We’re both board members on our local dietetic association, too!
Bring REAL GREEN FOODS BACK for St. Patty’s Day.
Show the people in your life that you love them by making delicious, nutrient-dense green vegetables the center of the meal. Prepare them with herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, cumin, lemon and/or garlic. Add salt or Mrs. Dash. Add butter or olive oil. My philosophy is that you’re competing with addictive, processed foods, so you must make your veggies taste good. Or else you may be left wondering how you’re going to eat the whole bowl by yourself. Make these foods taste wonderful so that saying “more please” is easy for your family. Get your kids involved in preparation so that eating them becomes more natural.
Whether you’re eating it green, white or purple, this beautiful sprout is rich in folate, which protects your heart, brain, and reduces birth defects. It is also high in glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage (think anti-cancer). It also promotes beneficial gut bacteria and improves insulin sensitivity. Eat them raw, steamed, or pureed, as in a green soup.
Simple roasted asparagus:
- 1 bunch washed asparagus, ends removed
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan, Pecorino or other aged cheese.
- 2 tbsp olive oil or grass-fed butter
- Pepper and salt to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place asparagus evenly in a glass pan. Cover and bake 10-15 min, or until they are tenderized (but not soft or mushy). Remove from heat and add olive oil or butter. Move to serving dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan or Pecorino cheese and any salt/pepper as desired.
Foods found in the Brassica family (cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy), are high in glucosinolates, isothiocyanates, sulforaphane are protective against cancer. Sulforaphane (sulpher) promote brain and nerve health. Brassicas also support liver detoxification, something that we all need in our modern times of chemical overload. Cabbage intake has been linked to lower incidence of colon, cervical, lung, stomach and breast cancer. Below are recipes for cabbage (Brassica) family foods.
- BS = Brussels Sprouts
- 1 pound or 1 stalk of BS, each sprout removed from the stalk and rinsed thoroughly
Zest of one lemon
- 1 tsp caraway seed (can substitute with cumin seed)
- 1-1/2 Tbsp ghee (you may substitute with coconut oil or olive oil)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Peel any loose or discolored outer leaves from each sprout. Remove any brown discoloration around the base of sprout. Poke a slit into each sprout so they cook faster.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add BS and cook until tender when pierced (8-10 min). Drain. Return to hot pot.
- Add oil, lemon zest, and caraway. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. If you are on a low salt diet, season with Mrs. Dash. Stir until well distributed and the oil is melted.
- Bless the farmers and farm land before eating.
Recipe adapted from “Eating Local – The Cookbook Inspired by America’s Farmers”, by Janet Fletcher
Easy Roasted Cabbage Recipe
- 1 large head cabbage
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or grass-fed butter.
- 2 tbsp cumin or caraway seeds
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wash a green cabbage head and slice it into 1-inch chunks. Place chunks in a glass cooking pan. Sprinkle cabbage with 1/2 cup water + 1 tsp salt. Cover. Roast 20-25 minutes, or until tender. Check on it about halfway, and add more water if necessary. When cabbage is cooked, drizzle 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (do not do this step before roasting). Sprinkle 2 tbsp cumin seeds or caraway seeds. Toss lightly and taste. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve and feel great!
As part of of the Brassica family, kale is practically a miracle food with it’s benefits. Of it’s many wonderful attributes, it is associated with promoting eyesight and fighting cancer. It’s high in carotenoids, which lower the risk of many cancers, including lung, esophageal, mouth, pharynx and bladder cancer. Doesn’t it taste good just hearing about the benefits? Just be sure that you are serving it up from organic farms, as kale is now a highly sprayed crop.
What’s amazing about kale is that there are endless ways to make it fun and delicious.
This is a winner for kids! Clean hands can massage the kale to help it break down easily.
- 1 large bunch kale
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil or toasted sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar or lemon juice
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds or walnuts
- 1/4 cup diced red onion (or softly shredded carrots, if your kids refuse to accept raw onions)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)
- 1 small or half of a large apple, diced
- 1/3 cup crumbled feta, blue cheese, or freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
- After washing the kale, remove the leaves from the rigid stems by tearing them off from the bottom to top. Add the oil and salt. Using your fingertips, grab small heaps of leaves and rub the leaves by stroking it between your fingers. You’ll know your magic is working when the leaves “melt” in your hands.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Toss with hands. and rub the leaves.
- Add acid. Toss again. Remember, this is massage, so rub with love.
- Taste. Adjust seasonings as needed.
- Just before consuming, give thanks to the farmers and truckers, the birds and bees, and love for all the energy invested in growing your food.
Here are the basic ingredients of my favorite creamy, anti-inflammatory green smoothie:
- About 3 stalks of kale, beet greens, or swiss chard (tear off of thick ribs at the base).
- 1/2 avocado
- 1-2 stalks organic celery (helps with blood pressure, and organic is essential, as celery is highly sprayed)
- 1/2-1 ” ginger root (anti-inflammatory)
- 1/2-1 ” turmeric root (anti-inflammatory)
- 2-cups(ish) preferred milk (I use coconut milk)
1. Wash everything, including the avocado skin before you cut it open.
2. If the ribs are thick on the greens, remove them and compost. Chopping and peeling is UNNECESSARY. Instead, you can chop large items into smaller chunks if your blender needs it.
3. Add all ingredients to the strongest blender you own (I use a Vitamix)
4. Add enough liquid to cover just about all of the veggies.
5. Blend 30 seconds. Check consistency. Adjust liquid if needed. Blend more if needed.
Feeding yourself and your family these foods is luckier than catching a leprechaun, as you’re ensuring a life of better brain and body health.
May you find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow this year. And let me know which recipes you try out!