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Were You Scared by Something Green?

Published May 24th, 2010 in Eat for Health

Were You Scared by Something Green?

By Tammera J. Karr, MSHN, BCIH, CNC, CNW, CNH

I have learned over the years that my husband was not the only childhood victim of scary green things.

Whenever I do a public presentation, invariably the topic of green foods and their appeal comes up. I have learned over the years that my husband was not the only childhood victim of scary green things. One of the very first meals I made for him was ham and steamed asparagus in crepes drizzled with cheese sauce; the look on his face when I served it said volumes…uggghggggaggg.  This was my first lesson that it takes more than cheese and butter to camouflage greens.

Now for many of us we grew up in a generation that a meal consisted of a green vegetable, starch and meat; ya know meat loaf with mashed potatoes, green beans, bread and real butter, unlike many of today’s diners whose food groups consist of fat, sugar, wheat, corn, chemicals and mystery meat. Am I being harsh? Convenience and calories do not make for good nutrition. As an early teen, my mom had a large garden, from that we ate and canned all summer long. When we went to the store it wasn’t to buy processed foods or even fresh foods and we rarely ate out.  No I didn’t live on “little house on the prairie”, I grew up in rural Oregon and I wasn’t born in the 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s (never mind when).

I never cared much for greens – they tasted bitter to me as a child, and the standard ranch or blue cheese dressing was just not my thing. But nothing tasted better on a summer day than fresh snap peas, carrots and radishes with the dirt, rhubarb and berries foraged from the garden. It is still true today – watch children in a garden, it’s not long till they are nibbling and mowing through fresh foods they wouldn’t touch on the table.

So why should we eat those greens? Let’s start with your eyes; your eyes use more anti-oxidants than any other organ in your body, the ones needed most by your eyes are found in green leafy vegetables and fruits like tomatoes. These anti-oxidants protect you from cataracts and macular degeneration. What about cancer? Research is all a-twitter about the cancer fighting properties of Broccoli and the cruciferous family. When lightly steamed or stir fried these veggies contain potent cancer fighters called sulforaphane and Indole-3-Carbinol.

Those dark leafy lettuces like red sail, oak leaf, endive, romaine, arugula and dandelion all have nutrients beneficial to the liver and gall bladder. They help the liver to detoxify and to keep bile from becoming thick and sluggish. This in turn keeps you from having indigestion, gas and bloating. Did you know that breaking wind below the table in public was against the law in 6th century China?

Many of our common herbs throughout the centuries have been part and parcel with mixed greens and meat dishes. Dill, fennel, rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley and oregano are just a few that improve digestion, have antibacterial properties and break down hard to digest proteins, starches and fats; freeing them up so we are able to extract the vital nutrients they contain. All of these foods/herbs also contain bioavailable vitamin C and B’s, which means your body doesn’t have to work overtime just to absorb the nutrients.

Food safety is another concern… How many summer gardeners do you know who have gotten food poisoning from the produce locally grown or in their garden? When we hear news stories about botulism, salmonella or E. coli contamination of greens we stop buying those foods from the store. Every incident of contamination has involved produce farmed and harvested in other countries or from mega-farms here in the United States, not our local farmers’ markets and fruit stands. Green foods contain all the vitamins to counteract these deadly food poisons, local gardens are treated differently, and the soil the food is coming from is less likely to be drained of nutrients, making the food healthier and those who eat the produce too.

In our household we have found that when it comes to greens, our mom’s weren’t the best at cooking them, so we have explored combinations and cooking ideas from Europe, South America and the Orient. Believe it or not my husband isn’t afraid of green things anymore, all of us are eating green things… well, most of them…

Eat Well and Save Money with a Summer Garden.

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