Our ancient ancestors would eat up to 6 pounds of leaves per day! Can you imagine eating a grocery bag full of greens daily? Few of us even eat the minimum USDA requirement of 3 cups of leafy greens per week. Greens are sexy so let's embrace them!
Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, perhaps the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage and our eyes from age-related problems, among many other effects. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega 3 fats. They help to regulate blood sugar and break down fats, and cleanse the blood.
Perhaps the star of these nutrients is Vitamin K. A cup of most cooked greens provides at least nine times the minimum recommended intake of Vitamin K, and even a couple of cups of dark salad greens usually provide the minimum all on their own.
Vitamin K: (Pretty amazing stuff)
- Regulates blood clotting
- Helps protect bones from osteoporosis
- May help prevent and possibly even reduce atherosclerosis by reducing calcium in arterial plaques
- May be a key regulator of inflammation, and may help protect us from inflammatory diseases including arthitis
- May help prevent diabetes
- Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so make sure to put dressing on your salad, or cook your greens with olive oil.
This collard green recipe I am sharing was featured on the Dr.OZ Show (during one of my guest appearances) as a healthy alternative to Southern Style collard greens.
SAUTEED COLLARD GREEN RIBBONS
Using a chiffonade technique to slice the greens into ribbons, speeds up the cooking process. These greens are at their best when cooked 5 minutes, sauteed in olive oil, they maintain more nutrients that way and the vibrant green color. This technique can be used on all types of robust greens- kale, mustards, etc.
Serves 4 (Prep time 10 minutes)
2 bunches collard greens
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt (to taste)
2 crushed cloves garlic (optional)
crushed red pepper
Wash the greens thoroughly and chop off the end stems. Take 3 collard leaves at a time, stack them together and roll them up width-wise. Hold in place against the cutting board and make 1/4 inch slices through the collard roll and place inside a large bowl, continue cutting the remainder of the greens this way. When you are done you should have a heap of collard ribbons.
Heat a pan on medium high, add the olive oil and swirl the pan to cover the entire surface if you are adding crushed garlic place it in the pan now, cook for two minutes and add the collard greens. Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of water over the greens stir around and cover for 4-5 minutes. Remove the lid, sprinkle sea salt and crushed red pepper, then mix the greens again. Serve hot.