A Green Christmas
Green vegetables are the superheroes of the plant foods that we discussed yesterday. Dark green leafy vegetables in particular can help support and prevent many health issues including osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, weight management, cognitive function, cholesterol management and diabetes, as well as being beneficial for the immune system, energy and healthy ageing too. Dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K and fibre. Now is there any reason you wouldn’t eat them all the time?!
Kale, rocket, spinach, watercress, savoy cabbage, Swiss chard, spring greens, and chicory should be included regularly as part of a healthy diet. They can be included in smoothies, and some such as spinach do not even alter the taste. A great idea for your Christmas greens is to pre-prepare a herb butter and pop it into the freezer rolled into a log shape. You can then slice some off to put on top of a portion of steamed greens. Add herbs to the butter such as rosemary, oregano, thyme and lemon zest, lime zest or even some chilli to spice things up!
Green leafy vegetables can contain natural substances such as oxalates and goitrogens which can inhibit mineral or iodine absorption, or cause inflammation if eaten in excess, and this could be an issue for those with hypothyroidism or other health issues. Most people however, are fine to eat raw or lightly cooked green vegetables as part of their daily diet. Lightly steaming the greens can reduce the content of some of these components if you are concerned about this.
Kale is a real superfood and this is a lovely Christmas salad that tastes and looks beautiful and will make you feel content knowing all the health benefits you are giving yourself.
Christmas Kale Salad
- Bunch of kale leaves, stems removed and chopped or torn into bite sized pieces (or you could use a bag of ready prepared kale and remove some of the harder stems)
- 1 large orange, peeled, segmented, and thinly sliced into halves
- Seeds from a pomegranate
- 2 tablespoons hazelnuts, roasted in oven for 5 mins and rub off their skins with a tea towel
- 1 red Ramiro (pointed) pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsps each freshly squeezed orange and lime juice
- Grated zest of lime
- Himalayan pink salt and ground black pepper to taste
Make the dressing with the oil, fruit juices and zest, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the kale and massage it into the leaves (this will soften the leaves). Add the rest of the ingredients and serve. This can be adapted using whatever citrus fruits, salad vegetables and nuts that you have.