In my experience, adding whole grains to a diet, particularly when they are replacing any kind of refined version, can have a significantly positive effect on energy, mood, and one’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. For busy cooks, grains lend themselves well to cooking in batches and providing multiple meals with less effort. Furthermore, they are a great bargain relative to their nutritional value, especially if you purchase them in bulk.
The basic steps to preparing grains are:
1) measure and check for unwanted material and rinse in cold water using a fine mesh strainer
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This is an easy to prepare and really delicious plant-protein (tofu) and leafy greens (chard) dish. As the tofu is already baked and usually seasoned (you can buy these packages in most health food stores) and the greens are raw, it’s a no-cook option for when you’re pressed for time or don’t want to heat up your kitchen (the walnuts can be toasted, but don’t need to be).
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Green vegetables are the foods most missing in our diets. Learning to cook and eat greens is essential to creating health. When you nourish yourself with dark, leafy greens you will automatically crowd out some of the foods that aren’t as healthy. Greens help build your internal rain forest and strengthen the blood and respiratory systems. Green is associated with spring, the time of renewal, refreshment and vital energy. In Asian medicine, green is related to the liver, emotional stability and creativity.
Nutritionally, greens are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phyto-chemicals.
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2 cups white cannelini or great northern beans (1 cup dried or 2 15-ounce cans)
3 cups water
2 bay leaves (for cooking beans)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
½ head escarole, cleaned and chopped
½ cup water
½ cube vegetable bouillon or other vegetable seasoning (such as A. Vogel organic herb seasoning salt, used to taste)
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- Prepare beans according to bean chart directions (using bay leaves and adding ½ teaspoon salt to beans at end of cooking and cook for additional 5 minutes) or drain canned beans.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, sliced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups kale
2 cups water
1 15-ounce can or approximately 1 cup fresh cannelini beans
¾ cup chicken stock
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- Wash kale and strip the leaves off the stalks. Discard stalks and roughly chop kale.
- Bring the water to a boil in a 10-12 inch skillet that has a tight-fitting lid.
- Add the kale and cook, covered, over high heat, stirring occasionally, until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Remove and drain, saving the cooking liquid to drink (for a really healthy, vitamin and mineral rich green cocktail known as “pot likker”).
I’ve written about the tremendous value of beans elsewhere (see Bountiful Beans & Legumes in this cooking class overview). Combined here with a leafy-green familiar to anyone who enjoys Italian food, this is an extremely nutritious and delicious soup. This recipe is from Greens Glorious Greens by Johnna Albi & Catherine Walthers, an excellent resource for anyone wanting to add more of these foods to their diet.
This recipe serves approximately four people
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This dish, featured in the book, Greens Glorious Greens by Johnna Albi & Catherine Walthers, is one of the most delicious ways I’ve found to prepare kale, a food we want more of in our diets for all its health-promoting effects. Known as a “superfood” because it is such an excellent source of nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese, it is also a very good source of dietary fiber, calcium, copper, vitamin B6, and potassium. Kale has also been shown in various studies to be associated with a lower incidence of various cancers, due to the high levels of active phytochemicals it contains. Furthermore, the carotenoids found in this vegetable, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, provide a protective effect against the risk of cataracts.
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Green vegetables are the foods most missing in our diets. Learning to cook and eat greens is essential to creating health. Nutritionally, leafy greens like kale are very high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and vitamins A, C, E and K. They are full of fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll and many other micronutrients and phyto-chemicals.
This is a very easy way to prepare kale and great for introducing it to someone who is not a big vegetable eater (and of course, children). Prepared in this manner it can be eaten plain as a side dish, over a grain, in a salad, or as a snack like chips.
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