• 28Aug

    Fall is a perfect time to start a greens garden. Where I live (the desert Southwest) it is just starting to cool off enough that I can grow greens outdoors without UV shade cloth covering the garden area. I plant by seed now so that I can start harvesting baby greens by the end of September and full greens all the way through the Fall and Winter.

    collard-greensIf you live in a cooler climate, Fall is still a great time to plant a greens garden. Greens don’t like intense sun anyways, so it works out well. For extreme northerly areas, you may want to pick greens that are more frost resistant and you may have to cover up young plants for the first month if there are frost warnings. You may also want to use transplants rather than starting from seed. Many nurseries will have things hardier plants like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower already started for you.  These cruciferous veggies make excellent greens for you green smoothies!

    I will be starting bok choi, pak choi, turnip greens, kale, collards, arugula, radish (for the greens), carrots (for the greens) along with brocolli, cauliflower, swiss chard and spinach. Here are some of the health benefits of just 2 of these greens, and these are all good reasons to grow your own greens:

    Spinach: This dark leafy green (and others like it, including kale,  swiss chard and collards) contains lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidant carotenoids that may help prevent cataracts and macular degeneration. Spinach is also a source of calcium and folate, a B vitamin that helps to prevent birth defects. Since pesticides are commonly used on conventionally grown varieties, growing your own is the best alternative. Otherwise, be sure to buy organic spinach.

    Cabbage: Cabbage is very inexpensive and and easy to grow, yet is highly nutritious. One of the  cruciferous vegetables (which also incudes brocolli leaves, cabbage leaves and kohlrabi leaves) contains nutrients called indoles, which may protect against both breast and prostate cancer. It also provides significant amounts of fiber and vitamin C.

    I grow greens year ’round, and you can too. It just takes a little planning and minimal effort (as far as gardening goes). But the payoff is an abundant supply of healthy, tasty, nutritous fresh organic greens every day for use in your green smoothies!

  • 27Aug

    young-spinachThe benefits of eating greens are plentiful. In fact, this entire site is all about the benefits of incorporating more dark leafy greens into your diet. When you make eating greens a regular part of your healthy lifestyle, you will have more energy, be more alert, and you will ward off the harmful effects of the toxic environment we live in which cause cancer and disease.

    One of the great benefits of eating greens is the effect it has on building and maintaining healthy bones. The myth that is out there in the media and even in the medical field is that you simply need to increase your intake of calcium. But think about this: we’ve been told for decades to increase our calcium intake and the incidence of osteoporosis, especially in older women, continues to rise. Clearly, calcium intake alone isn’t the only answer. Yes, it is part of the equation, but you also need vitamin D, vitamin K, magnesium and about 20 other nutrients all working together to replace lost calcium in your bones. Just increasing calcium intake may not help you at all if your body can’t use it.

    Leafy greens, especially the dark leafy greens, are not only high in absorbable calcium, they also contain most of the other essential nutrients needed for your body to put that calcium to work. Coupled with a good exercise program (tailored to your body’s needs) and some healthy exposure to the sun, most women (and men too) can reverse the process of osteoporosis and regain healthy, strong bones. See this article in Women to Women about the calcium myth for all the technical details.

    Besides all the nutritive benefits of eating greens, greens also are packed with fiber and chlorophyll. This provides a daily cleansing of your digestive tract and will make you as regular as clock works.

    But please, don’t assume you can just start eating more salad to get all these health benefits. It won’t help, and could actually turn you and your body off from greens. You need to make sure that you break down the leafy greens to the cellular level, penetrating the outer cell walls to unlock all the wonderful benefits. You can do this with your teeth by chewing each bite 100-200 times until it is as thin as liquid. But since most of us don’t have the time or patience to do that, you will want to use a high-speed blender like the Vitamix or Blendtec to thoroughly masticate your greens.

    If you can handle the taste, you can blend up your favorite greens with some water and enjoy. But most of us have palates that simply can’t handle the strong taste of straight greens. That’s why I advocate green smoothies for healthy living. In addition to getting all the health benefits of greens, you also get the wonderful antioxidant properties of the fruit you add. Plus, if you follow my recommendations, you will always be adding some type of healthy fat and protein to your green smoothies to make them a complete, balanced meal. You can actually live on green smoothies alone! Of course, most of us enjoy other foods and I strongly suggest that you just start off with a green smoothie every morning for breakfast. Then just eat sensibly for your other meals. You will be utterly amazed at the wonderful health benefits that will accrue to you just by incorporating this one simple, delicious step into your life.