3 ways to up the Greenness of your plate

Goodness gracious, isn’t it wonderful? For the past month, my beloved Karst has been shedding its robust veil for a noticeably greener hue. The birds are persistently foretelling the new life on the horizon. Mother Nature is kindly giving away the first healthy gifts of her new cycle; wild leeks, nettle, dandelion, edible flowers. And ever since Ostara spilled her green paint over the land, a few drops have caught my creativity, for I can’t stop eating green. You feel me? All of my meals are either dressed in greens or dressed with greens, and even my creative endeavours at al-Iksir have caught the epidemic: both my granolas and energy bars went for a more springlike hue.

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The colour green …

Although I was still in high school at that point, and valuing self-care solely according to the reflection in the mirror, I can clearly remember the bang after the release of Victoria Boutenko’s book Green for Life. Do you guys remember that? All of a sudden, everybody was on and on about the impact of chlorophyll on our health. In a few years’ time, I bought the idea, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually started living it. That only happened when I began living in the rhythm of the seasons, and to my body – it all comes down to this, doesn’t it? Now I know my body well enough to understand that as soon as the soft green hues of the sprouting plants start caressing my eyes on our walks, the Need for Green is approaching.

When it’s fully here, you may find me and Svarun grazing on whatever wild edibles during our walks. You may find me bringing home from the market unimaginable amounts of organic greens to juice, blend, use in soups, salads, pestos, and the list goes on; one thing is certain, though – I always run out of greens before I run out of ideas how to use them. And this year, you may even find me eagerly planting the seeds and loving this little piece of dark light brown soil that I call my garden.

Do we know what makes our greens appear green?

Chlorophyll, sure enough. All plants actually contain chlorophyll, but the rule of thumb is that the greater the amount of chlorophyll, the greener the plant. Chlorophyll is also referred to as »the blood of plant life«, probably because its molecule is virtually identical to haemoglobin in our red blood cells. The only difference between the two is the central atom: in the case of chlorophyll it’s magnesium, whereas iron occupies the centre in our blood cells. Isn’t this just amazing? If this does not amaze you, the fact that the health benefits of chlorophyll range from purifying to anti-inflammatory and renewable surely will. But since the attention span of us humans is way shorter than the list of chlorophyll healing properties, I dare mention only the ones I find most precious:

–          removes drug deposits and counteracts all toxins

–          eliminates bad breath and body odour

–          counteracts inflammations, such as sore throat, arthritis, all skin inflammations

–          counteracts ulcers

–          builds blood

–          renews tissue

–          promotes healthful intestinal flora

–          counteracts radiation!

… for a healthy liver

Yes, green clearly is the colour of spring and I, an insatiable seeker of the meaning, am happy to announce that there is more than meets the eye. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the liver season, and the colour that heals our liver is none other than green. We often associate green with liver, and it’s not because liver is green. Bile, on the other hand, the liquid product of liver that aids the digestion of fat, is. The green colour heals and harmonizes the liver, and so do green foods, especially the pungent ones. Made you think of dandelion? You’re onto something, as dandelion is a great liver cleanser alongside turmeric, artichokes, sprouts, spirulina and chlorella, psyllium seeds, triphala, grapefruit, papaya, spinach, sesame and tahini, MSM, zeolite, kelp, wheatgrass and barley grass. How about the first lamb’s lettuce of this year? Sure. And wild leeks that lure us into the woods and by the river with their pungent aroma? Most definitely.

The liver is often the most congested of all organs. Too much fat, chemicals, intoxicants, and processed foods all slow down the hundreds of biochemical processes in the liver that keep the flow of energy in our body and mind going. People with healthy livers are calm and decisive. But if you’re often feeling angry, explosive, impatient, indecisive, resentful, or violent, maybe your emotions are the indicator that your liver needs more loving attention.

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And now, on to my 3 pieces of advice on how to make your plate greener. Whether you decide to detox your body this spring is entirely up to you. For all I know, there’s always room for boosting up your green game and thus empower your liver. How? Easily.

  1. MORNING

Are you already having smoothies for breakfast? Good for you. Are they green? Even better! If not, they can easily turn green with an addition of fresh leafy greens (spinach, chard, lettuce, cress, dandelion, nettle, kale), a spoonful of green superfoods (spirulina or chlorella powder, wheatgrass or barley grass), nettle seeds you foraged last summer, or a spoonful of matcha tea. Don’t feel like putting tea into your smoothie? No worries, you might as well drink your chlorophyll in a cup of green, nettle or matcha tea. Don’t fancy a green smoothie for breakfast? Alrighty then, you may discover you fancy some other smoothie, sprinkled with a green granola. Just saying, this last part, the granola with green superfoods can easily turn into a habit – you’ve been warned. Given the focus that we’ve put on smoothies thus far, I believe a tiny warning is in order: always sprinkle your smoothies with something that requires chewing – that way the digestion will start in your mouth and the smoothie won’t fall too heavily on your cute little stomach. If you’re on the warm breakfast bowl bandwagon, you can make the latter greener in nature, too. I always lean towards the sweeter side, but if you’re feeling frisky, go ahead and make yourself a savoury breakfast bowl. You just want your bread? Fine, spread on top some wild leek pesto that you prepared with olive oil and salt, or you can get my DeLUXe wild leek pesto with hazelnut butter. Are you a more avocado-with-ramps-on-toast kind of person? No, still you want your bread buttered or, well, ghee-ed? Why not, just top it with fresh leafy greens and have your matcha on the side to be still on team green.

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2. NOON

If you’re having something as scrumptious for lunch as a gigantic bowl of vibrant wild salad, please, work it into a satisfying dish. What do I mean? Well, nothing is as disappointing as a green salad tossed with oil, vinegar and salt, pretending to be a satisfying meal. Trust me on this one, I spent my early twenties thinking I could fool myself and others, but what I always came down to is this: to call a neat bowl of greens a Meal, it must satisfy the body, mind, and soul. Therefore, we shall turn our salad into a luscious Meal with the help of a few old tricks. All top chefs know that every mouth-watering dish has a few crucial components:

  • Flavour is, as it should be, obviously the number one indicator of a delicious dish. I believe we all have the right to eat only delicious food; then again, I am certain it is our duty to make (and often keep) our food delicious. This statement takes me six years ago to Arambol, Goa, which hosted my first experience of flavour complexity. It was a night under the stars and I was cooking dinner with a group of new-found friends, chatting all along. As we tasted our dahl and were left disappointed because “there was something missing”, I remember a nice, quiet German boy standing up to save the dignity of this traditional Indian dish. He sprinkled a few things in the pot, saying: “My father is a chef, and he always told me to add some sugar to a savoury dish, if I feel there is something missing, and vice versa add some salt to a sweet dish for a rounder flavour.” A few years later I found out about the holy trinity of flavour involving salt, sugar, and acid over at Sarah Britton’s, and I have kept their advice in my kitchen up until today.
  • Colour of the dish is what speaks to us first for it flirts with our eyes. I cannot stress the aesthetics on the plate enough, for it is just as crucial as aesthetics off plate, in every area of our lives. What does beauty mean to you? What purpose does it hold for you? Our patriarchal society has come to focus exclusively on the more masculine values like quantity, functionality, and power, while all the way neglecting beauty. Sure enough, if beauty is considered, it is more often than not in an undermining, criticizing manner. Beauty is a feminine virtue, and an end in itself. Its purpose is to feed our soul, which should be fed in everything that we do, but is often not. So let’s invite beauty into our kitchens, let’s play with the colours and shapes, even if this sometimes means just to spiral the white of cream on top of our green soups. At the end of the day, we must find we have given ourselves the space for our creativity to be expressed – if only for the purpose of joyousness, attached to the action.
  • Texture refers to the shape and state of our dish, and whether there is something to chew on. For best results, it is wise to combine opposing textures, for they are best enhanced this way. So, if it’s a creamy soup that we want to give texture to, we could add something like oven-baked chickpeas, croutons, a handful of unshelled hemp seeds, or simply toasted nuts. In the case of a salad, we want to finish it off with ingredients that will surprise and fascinate us, once we bite into them. Avocado slices and cooked grains for tenderness? Roasted nuts, legumes, or toast for crunch? Boiled, cooked or oven-roasted veggies for a temperature kick? Improvise, the sky is the limit.

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  1. IN-BETWEEN

We can improve the greenness of our plate any time of day. Do you like chocolate? I know, what kind of question is that?! That’s good news, because cacao conceals the taste of green-blue microalgae like chlorella superbly. Try adding green superfood powder of your choice into the batter next time you make muffins, or add it to your kickass raw chocolate. Just remember to start off with little and up your amount as your taste buds get used to the flavour of chlorophyll. Yoghurt is another great concealer, just add a teaspoon of the green goodness for an afternoon pick-me-up, or you can make your own raitha by adding broiled leafy greens to yoghurt of choice, alongside some garlic, salt, and olive oil. Remember you can always use non-dairy yoghurt here, my favourite being coconut yoghurt. Feel like you need a crunch? Kale chips! There are zillions of recipes for kale chips on the internet, but I would favour two: one baked,  the other raw, both equally amazing. And, as ever, there is also a no-brainer available, which I’m also a fan of: spirulina and chlorella in capsules. If you’re going to consume these regularly, I recommend you take breaks every couple of months. And if you’re going to give them to your kiddos (who, by the way, love them!), make sure to skip one day of the week, every week.

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Dearest Green team! I hope you got some inspiration of how to up your green intake from this (really long) post that was written in devotion, love, and hopes to bring about some light. To give you the inspiration that you need to fuel your body right, so that it can follow your soul into bliss.

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Catch you later,

Tamara

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