NEW CASTLE —
In the American culture, French fries and ketchup may be considered by some people to be two servings of vegetables.
I remember hearing a report that said a committee was trying to get pizza with sauce to be counted as a vegetable in the schools for lunch. That report noted that it would take about a half-cup of tomato sauce on each piece of pizza for the consideration to be nutritionally compliant.
So why do so many people in our culture consider certain foods vegetables that are not vegetables? Another classic is corn. I’ve heard people say that they don’t eat a lot of vegetables, but they do like corn.
Corn is a grain — but I remember growing up as a kid and having corn served at the table along with the mashed potatoes, as if it were a vegetable.
And, by the way, are potatoes really a vegetable? Yes, they are, but because they are so starchy, they should not be considered your vegetable serving, so get another vegetable on the plate. Legumes, peas, and winter squash are also considered a carb/starch and should not be counted as vegetable serving.
I point this out because now that I recognize the importance of whole foods in my own diet, I tend to stay away from pizza, French fries, mashed potatoes. While I still enjoy these choices once in a while, I eat more zucchini, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots and especially more greens.
Go for more greens and you can get the following benefits.
•Best for beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Arugula, beet greens, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens. A four-ounce serving of any of these supplies enough beta-carotene to meet the RDA for vitamin A.
•Best for vitamin C: Arugula, kale, mustard greens turnip greens. A four-ounce serving of any of these supplies enough vitamin C to meet the RDA.
•Best for calcium: Arugula, dandelion greens turnip greens. Four ounces of any of these supplies at least a much calcium as a half cup of milk.
•Best for iron: Beet greens, dandelion greens, kale, spinach, Swiss chard.
•Best for fiber: Kale mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens.
Don’t forget curly endive, collards, escarole, and watercress. They may not be tops in any particular nutrients, but they have plenty to offer.
Does the thought of eating more greens seem unattractive to you? Maybe naming them something interesting will make them more fun.
A Cornell University study showed that when you named vegetables with more attractive names, children were more inclined to eat them.
The study showed “Carrots were eaten up to 66 percent, when these were labeled as ‘X-ray vision carrots’ as compared to 32 percent when unnamed and 35 percent when called ‘Food of the Day’.”
Other popular vegetables among kids are “Silly Dilly Green Beans” and “Power Punch Broccoli.” I used to tell my kids that broccoli was dinosaur food because is looks like tiny trees.
So I’ve given the recipe for this week a special, more “attractive” name, hoping it will entice you to put some greens on your plate!
Braised Kooky Kale
with Goofy Garlic
You can cook any sturdy greens this way, although some take longer than others.
Fresh spinach, for example, wilts in just a minute or two. If you can find them fresh in your market, you can substitute mustard, collard, turnip or beet greens, or chard.
- 3 bunches of fresh kale (3 to 4 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (preferably low sodium)
- 6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Wash greens well. Remove and discard tough ribs and stems. Slice leaves into half-inch-wide ribbons.
Bring 1 1/2 cups water and soy sauce to a boil in a large pot over moderate heat. Add garlic and simmer, uncovered, for 1 minute; do not let garlic brown. Add greens, toss to coat with seasonings, cover, and cook until greens are wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. If too much liquid remains in the pan, uncover and simmer until juices are reduced and concentrated.
Tip: To wash any leafy greens, such as kale or spinach, fill a sink with cold water. Add the greens, switch them several times, then lift them out to a sieve or colander, leaving dirty water behind. Repeat with fresh water if necessary.