Top Chefs Weigh In On Greens

Where did the hang-up about eating greens and green vegetables begin ?

I have never ostracized green vegies from my life.

As a kid – I was alright with it.

I adored spinach.

Grandma made the cream spinach – very yummy.

And I liked broccoli, brussel sprouts, and others.

At that time, there weren’t the grand choices available that we now have for devouring this nutrient dense food choice.

Hilariously enough – it was in March 1990 when then, President Bush declared to an entire nation: that he never wanted to see another sprig of broccoli on his plate – whether he is on Air Force One or at the White House or anywhere else in the land.

This was tantamount to an international incident.

Those in the hate broccoli camp were thrilled that a decree of such magnitude came from on high. From the President of the United States.

I was on the other side of the broccoli war.

My parents did not have to force feed me and so it was not a big issue. I continued to buy cook and eat.

And not secretly.

The broccoli war faded into oblivion as other issues took front stage.

In those times in the USA ‘the’ thing was iceberg lettuce. Iceberg has a whitish portion inside with only a few actual green leaves on the outside. But never green green all the way through – so to me it does not get into this category.

It was considered then esoteric to even mention swiss chard – as if it were a gourmet food.

Time passed and the ‘Broccoli Kerfuffle’ died down.

Later on health foods flourished and additional varieties of fine nutritious foods were introduced into the markets.

It’s all about taste, knowledge, and presentation.

I believe people can get over their misunderstanding of green vegetables by retraining their taste buds.

And by a genuine appreciation. Don’t laugh. Your body is not laughing – as a matter of fact – it’s cheering you on.

Let me continue with a boast.

I was the Queen of Kale before it was fashionable.

Let me specify – it was Dinosaur Kale. But those were the days that I lived in SF and Whole Paycheck shopping was the norm. Ahem – I mean Whole Foods.

Hang in here with me – as I am nowhere near a chef. A ‘foodie’ – yes.

Back to dinosaur kale. Wash and put in a frying pan (or a wok if you have one) with small amount of water to steam.

For some people the taste is too normal, organic, fresh, or bitter. Not for me. Simply stir fry and in the middle of cooking, sprinkle some drops of red chili oil to cut the taste. It then takes on a merger of toasted plus green – which has an added satisfying taste.

As I was fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area – there were and still are many farmers’ markets and Asian grocery stores. They featured greens in different varieties and I encourage you to try these now, wherever you live.

That is how I began my love affair of greens.

My green vegetable friends are kailan, bok choy, spinach, kale, chard, and choy sum.

Market in Cheng Chau, Hong Kong – Photo courtesy of Shirley Meerson

Market in Cheng Chau, Hong Kong – Photo courtesy of Shirley Meerson

Then upon traveling to locales such as Hong Kong, India, China, and Japan other green vegetables came into view and taste.

Now in the Middle East where I am, one mainstay is parsley. And it is seen everywhere and used for tabbouleh.

Tabbouleh is a Lebanese vegetarian dish traditionally made of tomatoes, finely chopped parsley, mint, bulgur and onion, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. This is one variation and there are so many.

Similarly, I became acquainted with the Middle East green guy called ‘jerjer’ which is rocket leaf or arugula. Some say it has a spicy peppery taste – yet it can also be bitter. True story is that I have been seen at work occasionally munching on this as a snack, in order to fulfill my greens craving.

Nutrient wise – leafy greens specifically – are full of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting phytochemicals. They are rich in fiber and have calcium and potassium.

Leafy greens also contain a lot of water, which can assist in keeping you hydrated and contributes to beautiful skin and hair.

Let’s get much more serious now.

I invited some highly experienced culinary colleagues to weigh in and comment on their favorite greens.

Listen up to these experts and…

Start those taste buds!

Meet mystic cook, passionate foodie, and culinary adventurer:

Teri Turner aka NoCrumbsLeft

http://instagram.com/nocrumbsleft

Red Chard - Photo courtesy of Teri Turner

Red Chard – Photo courtesy of Teri Turner

Red Chard
“Just back from the farmers’ market and I love red chard! So delicious simply prepared here with thin-sliced French shallots sautéed in coconut oil. Love my cast-iron pan; it’s like a dear friend.”

Baby Bok Choy - - Photo courtesy of Teri Turner

Baby Bok Choy – – Photo courtesy of Teri Turner

Baby Bok Choy
“The moment is here for baby bok choy, so seize the day. We’ve been trying so many variations, including grilling.

Along the way I have discovered a wonderful new magic elixir that is good for your body and spectacular on many dishes including greens. It’s a combination of 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil, 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp paprika. It’s particularly wonderful as a substitute for tamari or store-bought sauces.

For this preparation I pan-fried bok choy in coconut oil until done, then poured some of this lovely potion over. It’s also very nice, if you’re grilling bok choy, use to baste the leaves.”

Introducing a plant based nutritionist, fitness enthusiast, & vegan food writer:

Linda Coogan of DailyVeganLife

@lindacooganB
Twitter
http://dailyveganlife.com/

Warm Queen Kale Salad - Photo courtesy of Linda Coogan

Warm Queen Kale Salad – Photo courtesy of Linda Coogan

Warm Queen Kale Salad
You simply can’t go wrong with a good hearty salad packed full of iron and protein half way through the day to refuel the body and the mind. Kale is fastly becoming known as “the new beef”, “the queen of greens” and “a nutritional powerhouse.” So I made this up as an ode to its fabulous nutritional values!

This salad has nearly 3 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fibre (which helps manage blood sugar and makes you feel full), Vitamins A, C and K, and B Vitamin! It’s a real threshold of goodness compacted into a bowl and is designed to make you feel fuller for longer. Plus, it is super easy to make and it’s very rustic and warming.

Recipe

  • 1 bunch of chopped Kale (organic if you can get it so it won’t have nasty pesticides)
  • Generous handful of spinach
  • 1 Sautéed tomato sliced
  • 3 mushrooms sliced and sautéed
  • Healthy spoon of chia seeds
  • Sautéed beetroot
  • Handful of Watercress
  • One small sliced sautéed season potato

Method
Add some salt and pepper to season and toss all in a bowl! It’s delicious – without a vinaigrette as the flavors are a force!

Presenting a Middle Eastern chef who will take you on a journey through time with delicious recipes and personal stories.

Joudie Kalla of Palestine on a Plate

https://instagram.com/palestineonaplate/

Hindbeh - Photo courtesy of Palestine on a Plate

Hindbeh – Photo courtesy of Palestine on a Plate

Hindbeh
During early spring in Palestine especially near to Jericho (thought to be one of the most continually inhabited cities on earth), you will begin to notice in the cracks on the sidewalks of the road and along the mountain side and some small gardens, some green plants that look almost like grass, that Palestinians have been eating for centuries as an integral part of their diet. One of the plants that has been collected and eaten is called Hindbeh. It is the Dandelion leaf. Ever so popular and on most occasions not necessary to buy, as you could just pick it from the road.

Dandelions are packed full of flavor and are a super green food rich in antioxidants, protein, vitamins, iron, and calcium. The list goes on but these little side road plants have a lot to offer. More than one would imagine. You will find with dandelion leaves that they are a little bitter, so it’s best to soak them for about 10 minutes in water with a squeeze of lemon.