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By Land or By Sea, Green Superfoods

Posted Feb 08 2010 10:32am

Over the last couple months I wrote about a variety of superfoods. Nuts, seeds, berries, and now green stuff that is nutrient-dense for their tiny size. We’ve got nutritious green stuff that we find in the garden and not as familiar green stuff from the water’s depths.

For the landlovers, we’ve got your grasses-alfalfa, barley, and wheat (no relation to the grain) and your leafy green vegetables – to name a few: arugula, beet greens, chicory, collards, dandelion, endive and escarole, kale, kohlrabi, lettuces, mustard greens, parsley, spinach, swiss chard, turnip greens, and watercress.

Some controversy surrounds the benefits of grasses, but grass is a green plant and contains nutrients. I am allergic to wheatgrass but used barley grass throughout a 6 month cleanse several years ago.

Individuals on blood thinners need to eliminate Vitamin K intake because it is a blood thinning vitamin, meaning you will need to avoid most of these lovely greens. But, the flip side is if your doctor allows it and monitors your blood levels closely and you are committed to maintaining healthy diet chock full of green veggies, you can reduce you medication. This can only be done with the full support and guidance of your doctor!

Other than Vitamin K, depending on the leafy greens you consume, you will be taking in more calcium than you’d get from dairy, Vitamin A, C and E are up there too, magnesium, obviously fiber, inulin, chlorophyll – what I call the “blood” of the plant (a must for vegetarians!)

Yes, greens taste bitter and pungent. Our standard American diet is quite sweet and salty and oily, so the pungent and bitter tastes of veggies will be amplified until you are accustomed to them. This can be like feeding a baby new foods. It takes more than a few tries to not have it thrown back in your face! A little experimenting, a little help from cookbooks or blogs or wherever you collect recipes, will help you find the perfect way to eat your greens. Some I eat raw and some I eat steamed or sautéed. I like the flavors, and am overly sensitive to what most people enjoy, sweet and salty.

If you are going to try ANY superfood, try the grain-like seeds of quinoa and amaranth and then greens. It is easier to try a spin on something you already eat than to implement an additional food. Truly packed with nutrients, my clients with sugar-cravings or chocolate cravings soon lose the urge to OD on sugar when increasing their intake of green vegetables. I have noticed that chocolate cravings are a mask for the body’s need for magnesium, a stress relieving mineral which helps with sleep and muscular tension.

For the waterlovers, we’ve got your algae- wild blue green, spirulina, chlorella and your seaweeds.

I suggest talking to a nutritionist with a Chinese Medicine bent. With a consultation we can assess which green is best for you. Some people have strong, hot digestive systems which can handle the cold natured/temperature spirulina, whereas others need to nourish their yin and need one a little more subtle like chlorella, or, not a seaweed but, a grass that is warm natured like alfalfa. I myself stick with chlorella to nourish my waning yin and Wild Blue Green for all of its neurological attributes. A great supplement that I’ve seen work wonders with kids’ development is BioAge . I am taking the supplement now. I will let you know what I notice!

Sea veggies contain many times more calcium and iron than milk or beef. Brown wakame can be used instead of lettuce in a sandwich. Arame, brown stringy strands, I like to mix with hot pepper sauce, sautéed kale, and a few other vegetables in a cold salad. Kombu is a food tenderizer. I toss a large piece into the boiling water with dry legumes. It begins the process of breaking down fiber reducing the gaseous effects some people experience. Dulse is a red/purple color and available as sheets and flakes. It is nutty and mild. I shake it onto foods and grains as others would salt. No cooking or reconstituting needed. Green nori can be used to wrap something other than sushi.

Here are well-known healthy sea vegetables worth considering
  • Irish moss seems to contain 15 of the 18 essential elements that make up the human body. This includes great amounts calcium, iodine, sulphur, and potassium as well as Vitamins A, D, E, F and K. This definitely makes it a superfood, plus it was the main food source during the time of famine in Ireland!
    It has expectorant, demulcent, anti-inflammatory actions. It is beneficial for the skin, connective tissue, for an array of lung conditions, for peptic and duodenal ulcers, for urinary bladder inflammation, and for diabetic maintenance.
    I soaked this in water and kept in the fridge and added to smoothies. When blended with 3 times the water, it makes a paste and will add a creamy fluffy texture to recipes.
Other sea veggie options
  • Arame , a mild, almost sweet brown kelp is a great place to begin if you’re unaccustomed to eating sea veggies. It's usually found in thin dried strands. Soak a small handful in water until soft, add to your favorite salad then toss on your favorite salad dressing. Your salad becomes even more nutritious. I usually combine with shredded carrots and shredded broccoli stalks, sesame seeds, steamed cool kale, and thai chili paste and veggie mayo. It’s really good!
  • Dulse is packed with protein and iron. I sprinkle the flakes on many things.
  • Kombu, a popular ingredient in miso soup and other Japanese dishes. Just put a small strip in water and simmer for 45 minutes or longer on low heat. Now you have a wonderful mineral-rich broth. Now, simple cook veggies, soups, or your grain-like seeds in this broth. I add a small strip of kombu to a pot of cooking beans to soften and increase digestibility.
  • Wakame – Closely related to kombu, this variety was found to have fat burning properties that could fight obesity, according to research from Japan. I add this to my smoothies. I soak a week’s worth in water and keep in the fridge.
  • Laminaria Japonica - This miracle cleanser of heavy metals. It’s rich in vitamins and minerals that help support your thyroid, detoxify your body from heavy metals and ward off disease.
  • Kelp – A brown algae, kelp grows in nutrient-rich ocean water and is packed with vitamins, minerals and iodine. Kelp is thought to be especially useful for prostate, pancreas and digestive health. It is recommended for a gamut of thyroid disorders. Your thyroid needs minerals (like the ones found in ocean veggies) and certain fats to work well.
  • Nori – the common sushi wrapper, as “seaweed sheets” use them as wraps or they taste delicious when toasted. Nori in Japan is used like injerra in Ethiopia as implement to convey food like rice to mouth.
  • Hijiki – Makes a great natural beauty aid. It needs more cooking than arame.
  • Agar – Agar is wonderful for creating delicious sugar-free desserts. It is a vegetarian alternative to gelatin. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes and has mild laxative properties...so can be helpful for those who suffer from constipation.
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