Keen on Greens
Updated: Apr 17
My grandmother, Minnie, besides being a 'foodie' in her day was also a master gardener with a keen green thumb. One February about 8 years ago (she was 102 that winter), I was cutting up greens in her kitchen to cook as part of our evening meal.
She leaned over to me and said, “Sandi, have you noticed how sweet these greens are now that the cold snap has hit? Kale grown in the summer is no longer attractive to me, once I learned about this sweeter winter offering!”
Once again I was 'garden-gifted' by my wise ol' grandma. She made a great point, for like her most of us are drawn to sweetness. Yet, I might add that greens are beneficial every day of the year where ever their taste lands on the spectrum from bitter to 'sweet.' (note: Bitter is an adjective to describe the flavor of a leafy green that can actually be quite strong, harsh, and disagreeable, while at other times can appear to be mild and 'sweet.' This green taste is classified as a 'bitter,' as it holds contrast with the other 4 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, and umami. Minnie's reference to kale's sweetness was in relation to that coming from a green and not from a sugar.)
Bitters are great tonics, digestive aids. They actually promote digestive enzymes, and hydrochloric acid (HCL) production so necessary for digestion, as well as for supporting liver function.
The bitters of green leafy vegetables stimulate saliva, gastric juices, and bile priming your stomach for digestion. These greens that were consumed regularly by our foraging ancestors are sorely missing from our modern diets. Ooops!
Its important to note that eating more bitters (winter or summer) can balance out wild cravings for sweet foods, especially if you are looking for help in making some dietary changes (i.e. breaking addictions from sugar).
You need not eat 'bitter' greens as a stand alone menu item, nor just in the summer when the bitter taste is strong and can be over bearing. Thus it is, that I have provided you with an award winning kale salad recipe that is a fantastic way of getting to know kale and celebrate its wonder year round, but especially now, as Minnie would, delighting in its winter sweetness.
Award Winning Starflower Kale Salad
This delicious kale salad took 1st place at the Santa Cruz, CA
Homeless Garden Project's Kale Fest 2012
1 bunch organic kale, finely chopped
½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
¾ cup 'Ca-shew, Bless You' spread (recipe follows)
½ red bell pepper, chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
12-20 fresh blue strawflowers (aka borage flowers)
Toss a bunch of finely chopped kale with fresh lemon juice. Let sit for 4-8 hours.* After kale has 'marinated,' drain off excess juice and thoroughly stir in 'Ca-shew, Bless You' spread. Lastly, add red bell pepper, red onion, pumpkin seeds for a final toss. Decorate your salad with circles of starflowers [borage flowers] for a real visual treat!
*Hand massaging marinated kale for 5-10 minutes in lemon juice hastens the 'wilting' process.
'Ca-shew... Bless You' Spread Makes 2 cups
Add to food processor or blender in this order, then process until all seeds/nuts are powdered:
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds (or sunflower seeds)
1 1/2 cup raw cashews (or almonds)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 fresh clove, chopped)
Next add the following ‘wet’ ingredients and process until smooth:
1/2 jar of roasted peppers
1/2 cup roasted pepper water, or plain water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Bragg's Liquid Aminos or Coconut Aminos
Leftovers can be saved in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. This spread actually won’t last too long, since there are so many ways to enjoy this cashew delight.
Plan 2: Toss a bunch of steamed, chopped greens (collard, kale, chard, spinach, beet or mustard greens) in bowl with ¼ to ½ cup of 'Ca-shew, Bless You' spread. Serve and eat right away. This also can be a super next day lunch option as is, or in a pita pocket (or spread on a slice of gluten-free millet bread) with tofu or temphe, cucumbers, tomatoes, and/or shredded carrots.