Fresh greens and vegetables — the key to health
by Stan Kalson —
Spring brings an abundance of fresh vegetables at local stores and farmers’ markets, making it easier for the health-conscious to choose lighter meals to satisfy nutritional requirements. Many people overcook the majority of their food and neglect the important raw greens and vegetables that provide valuable natural enzymes and nutrition. Consuming too much overcooked, processed food creates a breeding ground for illness.
Some people believe they should consume only cooked food because of difficulty in digesting raw food. This may be caused by years of consuming overcooked and over-processed food. To adjust to eating more raw foods, start slowly, use plant-based enzymes or blend your raw vegetables with cooked ones. Initially, you can also blend and/or juice your raw vegetables and chew the fiber before swallowing it. This allows the body time to adjust to more fibrous foods.
The fresh food concept is not a new idea. In many cultures, fresh food preparation is the only acceptable lifestyle. Americans purchase large quantities of frozen, canned and processed foods that are less nutritious, filling our stomachs but weakening our health. The latest government statements validate the consumption of more fresh, fruits, vegetables, grains and meats.
The quality of the foods we eat is more important than the quantity. Place a high priority on buying quality by shopping and consuming farm-fresh organic greens, vegetables and fruits. The media has discussed the dangers of the chemical fertilizers and pesticides used to produce our food, and today, many savvy consumers are choosing fresher, pesticide-free, naturally and organically raised foods.
Consumers at farmers’ markets have been overheard commenting that a particular vegetable is too expensive. Where are your priorities? The slightly higher cost is actually offset in the long run in that the end result is a significantly healthier body, which may be less prone to illness.
The key to a healthy body is the consumption of fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables. Health researchers have focused on the possible relationship between the poor quality of the food and water we consume and the increased rate of disease in our society.
Try the following recipes using fresh organic foods:
Spring Vegetable Medley Salad
- 3 to 4 cups romaine, red leaf lettuce and spinach, torn into small pieces
- 2 ripe small tomatoes, cut into wedges
- 2 small spring green onions, sliced
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Black olives, to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Mix greens with tomatoes, carrot, onion, cheese and olives. Sprinkle with oregano. Add desired amount of oil and vinegar dressing, and toss. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Oil and Vinegar Dressing
- 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
Whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until completely combined. Pour over greens and toss.
Tasty Salad Sandwiches
- Whole wheat pita bread or large flavored (spinach, tomato, etc.) tortilla
- 2 ounces goat cheese
- 1 tablespoon black olive paste/tapinade (available at Trader Joe’s)
- 1 cup trimmed arugula or fresh spinach
- Red onion, thinly sliced
- Tomatoes, thinly sliced
- Basil leaves, diced
- Balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
- Freshly ground pepper or salt, to taste
Cut pita bread in half and open carefully or use large flavored tortilla to create a wrap. Spread the goat cheese evenly inside each pita pocket or spread over tortilla, then spread the olive paste evenly over goat cheese. Stuff arugula or spinach, onion, tomato and basil inside pita or spread on tortilla. Drizzle with vinegar and olive oil, to taste. If desired, sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Stan Kalson has been active for 28 years in the Greater Phoenix holistic community. 602-287-0605.
Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 24, Number 2, April/May 2005.