The health benefits of green leafy vegetables are many, and as such they should be an important part of a healthy diet.
Greens are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that prevent cancer and other diseases. According to the food pyramid guidelines, an average adult needs 3 cups of leafy greens per week.
The variety of green leafy vegetables available makes it easy and interesting to include them in our meals. Some of the more popular greens are spinach, bok choy, fenugreek, amaranth, collards, mustard greens, and kale. These provide a great way for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores to get their nutrients.
Greens that are commonly used in Indian recipes include spinach (palak), fenugreek leaves (methi), mustard greens (sarson ka saag), amaranth (thotakoora), gogu (gongura), bachchali (a kind of spinach), and chukkakura (a tangy leaf).
Dark leafy greens are a rich source of vitamin C, K, E, and B, as well as iron, calcium, and fiber, which are essential for good health. Recent studies have shown that Vitamin K plays an important role in preventing osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. Vitamin E has been shown to prevent skin cancer.
Greens contain beta carotene (vitamin A), lutein, and zeaxanthin which are powerful antioxidants that destroy free radicals (that damage and weaken our body cells), and help protect our bodies from cancer. Beta carotene strenghtens the immune system, while lutein and zeaxanthin prevent degenerative eye diseases like cataract.
They are also known to slow down general age-related cellular degeneration, and are great for our skin, hair, and nails. Our bodies convert the beta carotene in leafy greens like spinach to vitamin A which regulates the production and turnover of cells so skin’s surface is smooth.
Vitamin A has also been shown to reduce skin sensitivity to sun. For excellent skin health, include three 1-cup servings of foods rich in beta-carotene such as spinach and other greens.
Greens also contain folate, which plays an important role in the repair of damaged cells. Folate is known to reduce the risk of colon, lung, cervix, and breast cancer.
The phytochemicals or antioxidants in greens like bok choy and kale are enzymes that help fight cancer. These enzymes also help with digestion and keep our digestive tract healthy.
Greens are a rich source of potassium and magnesium. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure, and magnesium regulates blood sugar. A new study conducted at University of Leicester, UK, has shown that eating one and a half cup of extra servings of green leafy vegetables a day reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 14 percent. Greens such as spinach may also help reduce type 2 diabetes risk due to their high magnesium content.
It’s a good idea to incorporate green leafy vegetables in your diet. Dark greens like spinach, kale, collard, and mustard make for a nutrient-packed salad as they contain more vitamin A and C and potassium than other greens like lettuce. But be sure to opt for low-calorie dressings,particularly if you’re watching your weight.
Greens are low in calories, have no cholesterol, and are fat-free, and as such a must for any weight-loss plan. A diet rich in green leafy vegetables coupled with physical exercise, whether yoga or something else, is great for your health.
Wash greens well to remove dirt. Rinsing multiple times is a good idea. Or you could fill a large bowl with water and let the greens rest in the water for a few minutes. When the dirt settles at the bottom of the bowl, remove the leaves and repeat.
Remove the thicker part of the stems and cut or tear the leaves. For most greens, such as spinach, bok choy, and amaranth, the tender part of the stems work quite well in recipes.
Saute the leaves with a little oil, or blanch the greens. Some greens cook faster than others and all greens release a lot of water, so whether or not you add water to the greens when cooking, depends on the recipe and dish you’re trying to make. For instance, if you’re making a dry curry with the greens, you don’t need to add water, but if you’re making a soup or dal, you do. Also when making Indian recipes that call for tamarind, the greens take a little longer to cook, as tamarind tends to slow down the cooking.
Do not overcook greens as overcooking would destroy the nutrients.
To preserve their green color, cook the greens uncovered for the first 5 minutes. Radish: Besides increasing heat in the body, radish is also a weight loss food. So, thoroughly wash the radish and consume it with the peel as it is rich in antioxidants. Radish also contains vitamin C, B and folate.
In India cooked radish greens (mooli ke patte in Hindi) are a popular dish.
RADISH GREENS (Mooli Ke Patton Ki Sabji) / serves 2
Greens of four radishes (or the standard-size bunch from any Indian grocery store) 1 tomato (diced) 1 small onion (diced) 1 teaspoon cumin seeds Chilies to taste (my recommendation: 2-3 green chillies, diced; or ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder ½ teaspoon turmeric powder ¼ lemon (juice only) Salt to taste (my recommendation: 1/4-1/2 teaspoon) 1 tablespoon oil (my recommendation: canola)
Optional: ½ teaspoon asafoetida powder or 2 cloves garlic (diced)
Wash the greens and separate the fibrous stems from the leafy greens; dice the stems; and set aside. Add oil to a large pan; turn heat to medium; and add cumin seeds.
Optional: When the cumin seeds are fragrant and “dancing,” add asafoetida powder and stir to dissolve in the oil.
Add the onion (with the garlic, if you’re using that instead of asafoetida power); cook until the onion is translucent and very soft.
Add the tomato; sauté until the tomato loses its form and most of the water cooks out (leaving a “paste”-like mixture of cooked onions and tomato).
Add turmeric powder; stir thoroughly to mix; cook for 1 minute (otherwise the turmeric will have a bitter taste).
Add the stems of the radish greens and stir thoroughly, coating them evenly with the seasoned “paste”; turn heat down to low; put on the lid; and cook for 1-2 minutes (to soften the stems).
When the stems are soft, add the leafy greens and stir thoroughly, coating them evenly with the seasoned “paste”; cook (lid off!) for 1-2 minutes until the greens are lightly cooked, but not limp.
When greens are cooked, shut off the burner and add salt (to taste) and lemon juice.
Eat your radish greens with brown rice or roti and, if you’re really ambitious, daal.
Spinach is largely available in winter and is a super food, which can prevent and fight several diseases. Spinach is consumed for several reasons from skin care to fighting cancer. Spinach, along with other dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, is an excellent source of vitamin K. Nutritionally it plays an important role in blood clotting, bone health and reducing inflammation. When applied topically vitamin K can help repair capillaries which is why it is beneficial for treating dark under eye circles.
Vitamin K is only one of many of important nutrients found in spinach, which is ranked by the World's Healthiest Foods as one the world's most nutrient rich foods. Palak Paneer is listed as one of India's most popular recipes, and once experienced it is not hard to see why this vibrant vegetarian dish has become such a firm favourite. It consists of paneer (a firmly pressed cottage cheese) in a thick sauce made from puréed spinach and seasoned with garlic and other spices. It is possible to make paneer at home by adding a a little lemon juice to full fat milk and warming gently before straining and pressing, but this can be a timely and fiddly process.
This recipe is enough to feed 6-7 people. Serve hot with roti and/or rice.
1kg Spinach 800g Paneer 2 -3 whole chilli 3-4 onion 2 Tbsp tomato puree 1-2 tsp ginger garlic paste 2-3 bay leaves 1 tsp chili powder (adjust to taste) 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder 1tsp cumin seed 1/2 tsp tumeric 1/2 tsp Garam masala (adjust to taste) salt
1.) Wash and boil the spinach leaves
2) Allow the cooked leaves to cool, then blend.
3.) Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan, and gently saute the onion, tomato, ginger-garlic paste, cumin seed, coriander, chili, garam masala and tumeric. Continue sauteing until oil comes to the surface, adding a little water along the way if required.
4.) Add the pureed spinach and pieces of paneer. Add salt the salt (to taste) and 2 -3 bay leaves. Simmer for 10-15 minutes
5.) Add pinch of kasoori methi (optional) and garnish with a swirl of cream.
METHI LEAVES OR FENUGREEK
Methi or fenugreek is a popular vegetable grown in winter months and is excellent to boost immunity during these months. Methi instantly increases body heat which is perfect for cold breezy days.
ALOO METHI RECIPE
Indian Aloo Methi is one of the most lip smacking dishes that a gourmet person can enjoy. Its main ingredients are fenugreek leaves or methi leaves as they are known in India and potatoes. Served along with roti, or Paratha, it is an ideal meal during any time of the day.
(The measuring cup: 1 cup = 250 ml),5 to 4 Cups of finely chopped methi leaves, or fenugreek leaves,3-4 Medium size potatoes,1 or 2 Chopped green chilies,¼ Table spoon red chili powder,2 Table spoon butter, or mustard oil, or any vegetable oil,Salt as per requirement
Method of Preparation:
After removing the methi leaves from the stems, wash them thoroughly in running tap.
Chop the leaves using a knife.
In a frying pan, heat oil, or butter.
Add potatoes, and cook them until they turn light brown.
The next step is to add fenugreek leaves, green chili, red chili powder and salt.
Cook on medium heat, and stir continuously until the fenugreek leaves start leaving juice.
Cook for another 5 minutes on low heat.
In case the potatoes are still uncooked, add 3 tablespoons of water, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
The fully prepared dish should be dry.
You can mix some butter with the fully prepared dish, and serve it with roti, Paratha, or rice dal combination.
Chana ka saag
Channa Saag is made with the green leaves of Channa. When the channa plant grown up, before the on set of the flower the leaves are cut from the top. These leaves are used to make Channa Bhaji and this procedure is also necessary to benefit the plant so that it flourishes well.
Ingredients for Chana ka Saag
Channa leaves - 250 gms., Makka or Bjara flour - 1 table spoon. , Green chilli - 2-3, Ginger - 1 inch long piece (1 tea spoon paste), Tomato - 2, Oil or ghee - 1 table spoon, Heeng - 1-2 pinch, Cumin seeds - 1/2 tea spoon, Salt - 3/4 tea spoon ( or according to the taste), Red chilli powder - 1/4 tea spoon (optional)
Garam masala - 1/4 tea spoon.
Method - How to make Chana ka saag
Wash the leaves and separate the stems from them.
Take out the soft leaves from the bunch to make the recipe.
Clean and wash the leaves twice with fresh water.
Keep them on a tilted plate so that all the water strains away.
Now chop the leaves.
Wash the tomatoes and cut into big pieces.
Wash the green chilli and separate the stems from them.
Peel and wash the ginger and cut into big pieces.
Take a pan filled with 1 cup water and put the chopped leaves into it.
Keep the pan on the stove.
Cook the leaves with water til they turn tender.
Now take another bowl and mix makka or bajra flour in1 cup water and mix well.
Put this mixture into the pan once the leaves become soft.
If the recipe turns too thick then add little more water to it.
Put salt and red chilli powder into the pan and mix well.
Stir the recipe continuously once it stars to boil.
Cook the recipe on low flame for 8-10 minutes,
it should not be too drippy. It should be nicely mixed.
The saag is ready.
Take a small pan and heat ghee or oil into it.
Put heing, cumin seeds into the pan and let them splutter.
Now add green chilli, ginger and tomato into it and roast them well.
Roast the tomato till it become soft and then add the cooked saag into it.
Mix them well and cook it for a while.
Now put garam masala into it and mix well.
Channa Ka Saag is ready.
Serve the hot and fresh channa ka Saag with makki roti or bajra roti along with jaggery to enhance the taste.
Curry leaves chutney
Ingredients (measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
1 cup curry leaves or kadi patta, 1 tsp urad dal/black gram skinned, 1 tsp mustard seeds/ rai or sarson, ½ tsp cumin seeds/jeera, ½ inch ginger/adrak, 1 or 2 green chilies/hari mirch, ½ cup grated coconut, 1 tbsp roasted chana dal (optional), a pinch of asafoetida/heing, 2 tbsp oil, salt as required
Rinse and dry the curry leaves with a clean kitchen towel.
Heat oil in the frying pan. then add mustard seeds as well as urad dal.
Allow the mustard seeds to pop and also the urad dal to obtain a reddish brown.
Add the cumin seeds. then add the ginger, green chilies and curry leaves.
Stir and fry the leaves with constant stirrings till they become slightly crisp.
Don’t brown them since this will make the chutney bitter.
Let this mix cool down.
Then in the chutney grinder, add some curry leaves mixture with a few salt and water.
Also add the grated coconut as well as roasted chana dal.
You can easily make a thick chutney or perhaps a chutney along with medium consistency. so add water and salt accordingly.
Grind all of the elements into a smooth chutney.
Pour in the serving bowl as well as serve the curry leaves chutney along with upma, pakora, idli, dosa or medu vada or any snack.