Cooking Greens

Cooking Greens

Cooking greens makes a great meal or set of snacks to have on hand for when you need a little nibble. Various green things grow in your garden. Also, you can obtain them from your local market. Cooking greens opens up a new world of flavor.

Cooking Greens

A wide variety of green things will lend their bodies and souls to aid and abet your quest for healthy eating. These nutrient dense foods are loaded with phytochemicals (plant nutrients) that are reputed to be cancer fighters.[1]

Greens are packed with energy and will not let you down after an hour, like carbohydrates do­—sugars, starches, breads, potatoes, fruit and cereals. [2] These greens have lots of nutrients and you won’t need to worry as much about counting calories.

You will find these greens around the produce section of your local grocery store and farm market. They make for cheap nutritious eating and will build strong bodies. These denizens of the swamps are varied and sometimes misunderstood, but they are important.  Therefore I will take a moment to explain some of them I use for cooking greens.

Types Used For Cooking Greens

Greens include spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower green beans, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, kohlrabi, beet greens, pea-pods, the tops, of onions, radish tops and many other plant parts to numerous to itemize here. These are truly super foods.[3]

The quality of these greens is quite forgiving because in this case we are cooking (steaming) them and the length of cooking time can vary with the toughness of the green. You won’t always find wonderful garden-fresh items because this is a worldwide market and the poor critters might have traveled many thousands of miles—they may be out of season here.

Preparation For Cooking Greens

Now we are ready to start on the preparation of these wonderful foods.

Remove any old leaves and whatever else that might spoil your appetite. The stems are good to eat, so don’t be too quick to discard them.

Cut them into pieces that are agreeable with your eating desires. I make mine about an inch or two.

Most of the greens that you find will have been doctored along the route to protect them and enhance their shelf life during their hurried trip through the world market to your table. Apple cider vinegar will neutralize most of the chemicals that you probably don’t want to eat. (I don’t trust white vinegar, because it is a chemical concoction that never met up with an apple. I like to put a cup of apple cider vinegar in the final rinse. This costs about $4.00 a gallon at the supermarket.

Washing Greens

Wash the greens three times and look for dirt in the bottom of the white wash- basin. If there is dirt in the bottom, wash it again. (The dirt hurts my teeth and distracts from my eating pleasure.)

Now drain the buggers and they are ready for the hot pan. Don’t over drain them because you will not add water when cooking.  The only water that they will have is their interior water and what little that is left from rinsing. There will be very little juice in the bottom of the pan when the delicious morsels are ready to eat.

Cooking Greens By Light Steaming

Young beet tops, spinach, cauliflower and broccoli only need less than ten minutes of light steaming, but everything else can be cooked in the same manner. You can learn to let your imagination run wild.

We are now ready for the fire.

I hope that you have a heavy pan that has a tight lid because the less steam that escapes, the more stays in.  A company called Farber Ware makes an economical pan that I find readily available.

I use a four-quart pan for all my greens. You might want to use a smaller pan and make smaller batches. Some greens start out large and cook to one-tenth of their original volume. This requires a large pan.

Now add a couple of ounces of oil to the pan. Olive oil is the only oil that I trust. It is loaded with nutrients—especially omega 3s.[4]

Time To Add More

This is when I like to add hot peppers, garlic, salt, onions, and whatever other seasons strike my fancy. Get your pan hot and sauté the above mentioned seasonings and flavorings. When they are blended to your liking, add the wet greens. Cover with a tight lid and when the steam starts coming out, turn the heat to low or simmer. Be careful to stir a few times to get them all hot.

This is also a good time to add whatever meat that you might like—ham, sausage, bacon pieces—again, let your imagination run wild. Have fun with this, and season to suit your likings.

Although greens need various cooking times, none of them want high heat or overcooking. Simply cook these greens until they are tender. This might take over an hour, depending upon how tough the culprits happen to be when apprehended.

Ready To Serve

Now we are ready to feed the troops.

I keep this mess two weeks in the refrigerator—if I haven’t added meat. This is especially useful for lunches when refrigeration isn’t available.

If you are going on a road trip or back packing, you can keep the meat separate to add along the route. This is because the canned or preserved meat keeps well until opened. Also the hungry bears and fellow airline passengers are less apt to complain.

(The oils, seasonings and such can be sautéed in a small pan and added to the greens at a later time, but I like the flavor cooked in.)

These greens are all available either in cans or frozen but I believe they don’t have the flavor and nutrition as fresh cooked greens.


[1] Cleveland Clinic Healthy Heart and Lifestyle Guide and Cookbook

[2] Foods to Fight Cancer, Richard Beliveau

[3] Sunfood diet, David Wolfe

[4] The Queen of Fats, Susan Allport

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