Not only is green the color for the Spring energetic season and Wood element and the color of so many plants that sprout in Spring, it’s also the color of the foods that best align with the season and our vitality of self. Mind, body and even spirit are uplifted and nurtured whenever we take green foods filled with the rays of the sun into our beings.
Spring is a time associated with the bursting forth of life. The season is synonymous with the giving of life and also cleansing. We'll be super wise if we support ourselves with as many green foods during this season as we can.
During Spring, we focus on bringing the energies of the liver and gall bladder and corresponding meridians into balance and certain green foods are optimum for bringing liver energy into balance.
These liver supporting foods are:
- leafy green juices; add some cucumber and a bit of green apple for a delightful fresh taste;
- wheatgrass juice; try to drink an ounce or so of fresh-pressed when you can;
- chlorophyll-rich foods like barley grass, chlorella, spirulina, blue green algae, ceremonial grade matcha green tea, parsley, kale and spinach; add them to your smoothies for an easy way to get your cleansing green;
- hot mint tea for soothing the liver's chi energy;
- sprouts, especially alfalfa and sunflower both of which are very easy to grow yourself;
- green "bitters" like rye, romaine, asparagus, endive and dandelion greens; a bonus benefit is they help to alleviate springtime allergies.
Not everyone enjoys green leaves and vegetables so we’re offering you quite a number of novel and exciting ways below to make sure you amp up your diet with green and enjoy the deliciousness of it too!
While most of these ideas provide ways to creatively add greens and green foods to your entrées and side dishes, don’t ever be afraid to make green the main event. Green vegetables will provide protein contrary to popular belief. Per calorie, broccoli contains more protein than beef with about 4.5 grams per 30 calories. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database, one cup of raw broccoli yields nearly three grams of protein while a cup of green peas will give you nearly eight grams of protein.
All plants contain protein and at least 14% of the total calories of every plant are protein. Broccoli contains more protein per calorie than steak and, per calorie, spinach is about equal to chicken and fish. Of course, you’ll need to eat a lot more broccoli and spinach to get the same amount of calories that you do from the meat. Multiple studies have shown that if you are meeting your caloric needs through plant-based nutrition, you will satisfy your body’s protein requirements. – Scott Stoll, MD, Yes, Plants Have Protein
- Scramble your eggs with cooking greens or add them to your frittata.
- Add fresh fruit like strawberries to make your highly nutritious spinach salad more interesting.
- Make a batch of green pesto to have on hand for adding to dishes like pasta or for garnishing dishes like scrambled eggs, soup or roasted veggies.
- Learn to sprout! It’s so easy to do right in your kitchen with some mason jars, cheesecloth and sprouting seeds. In just a couple days you’ve got green sprouts absolutely brimming with nutrition that you can add to salads, add as soup garnishes or throw in your smoothies.
- Learn to identify wild edible greens and pick them. Some might be in your backyard or favorite local forest preserve.
- Everybody loves nuts and seeds so improve your salads’ texture and nutrition by adding them to your salads.
- Add a handful of spinach or other green to your favorite smoothie to make it green. Spinach is quite benign flavor-wise. It won’t alter the flavor intent of your smoothie.
- Don’t miss a chance to garnish your soups with parsley or cilantro.
- Never miss adding a beautiful green leaf to your sandwiches. Have fun and experiment. Go beyond iceberg or romaine lettuce.
- Garnish your sandwich plate or even top your salad with dehydrated kale chips. Depending on the sauce massaged into the kale before dehydrating, kids will love eating them instead of potato chips.
- Add a handful of fresh basil, leaves and stems, to your blenderized soups for a subtle flavor enhancement and nutrition boost.
- Add green legumes like peas, pea pods and green beans to your side dishes for color, texture, protein and vitality.
- Learn to make a serious tabbouli. With the main ingredient being parsley, this minted salad is incredibly fresh tasting and you’ll feel so much better about yourself after eating it! You can substitute quinoa for the bulgur wheat, if you prefer, and it will taste just as great.
- Fold finely chopped parsley or spinach into your mashed potatoes or alfredo sauce.
- Mush some not overcooked broccoli into side dishes for texture, flavor and nutrition.
- Make some avocado topped toast or spread your toast with a mélange of peas tossed with a small amount of olive oil, quartered grape tomatoes, and edamame. Avocado toast happens to be on-trend right now too!
- Add shaved or grated courgette (zucchini) into your salad.
- Have a nice spinach salad or other green leaf salad for breakfast. It’s a fantastic way to start the day.
- Explore fresh green herbs (oregano, rosemary, basil, dill, cilantro, chervil, chives, tarragon) and learn how to add them to your dishes for an added dimension of healing and flavor.
- Make fresh, raw green bean “fries” for an awesome snack. Toss washed whole green beans with a bit of olive oil, and then garlic granules, salt and pepper to taste, and munch!
- Make your wrap sandwiches raw wraps using collard greens, bibb lettuce or swiss chard leaves; you can do the same when making tacos, too.
- When puréeing your homemade hummus, throw in a half cup of spinach; it will lend a green hue to the hummus and give you added nutrition, but it won’t alter the flavor of the hummus.
- Top your burger with lightly sautéed greens infused with your favorite herb for a more gourmet experience.
- Make green dips; spinach-artichoke is always nice.
- Make simple homemade green salad dressings in your blender; throw six to eight dandelion greens in the blender along with a cup of soaked raw cashews, a half cup of soaked raw sunflower seeds, a cup of water, a squirt of lemon juice, a half teaspoon of turmeric and Himalayan salt to taste and blend until smooth.
- Double the amount of green vegetables and half the amount of animal protein in your dishes. You’ll enjoy the dish just as much and may well lose some weight.
- Be a sneaky chef; purée some greens and add them to marinara sauce or grate or finely mince the greens and add them to your burger and meatloaf mix.
- Join the Meatless Monday movement and make green foods the centerpiece of the day.
- Wilt your greens like spinach, arugula, mustard and dandelion greens; you can add them to your favorite dish or eat them straight with a little salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil.
- Gently sautée kale leaves stripped from their stalks along with garlic and bit of olive oil until they become just soft enough to eat. So delicious and hearty!
- Save your kale stems after stripping the leaves for sautées or massaged kale salads and blend them (chopped) with some water, garlic, salt and soaked raw cashews for a wonderfully delicious, light and super healthy kale soup. Remember, the core of any plant packs the most power! Get your Easy Blender Kale Soup Recipe download here.
- Slightly blacken bundles of bok choy, broccoli or asparagus spears for a unique taste and nutrition treat.
- Get to know how to use ceremonial grade matcha green tea in your cooking and baking or simply drink it as tea. The Healthy Matcha Cookbook is an excellent source. You’ll get the incredible benefit of the most powerful catechin (a type of antioxidant) found in green tea–EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)–which is believed to be a powerful anti-carcinogen. If you want to eat just one superfood a day and must choose among all of them, matcha green tea is the one you want because of its EGCG content. We’ll be devoting an entire blog entry to matcha green tea in an upcoming post.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published as two separate posts on March 27, 2016 and March 29, 2016 and has been combined and updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.
Stoll, Scott. “Yes, Plants Have Protein.” https: wholefoodsmarket.com, Whole Foods Market, 15 Jan. 2013, www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/whole-story/yes-plants-have-protein.