Monday, October 19, 2009

Garlic Mustard Greens and Marinated Cauliflower Salad

As I write this, autumn is in full swing. We’re entering the far side of peak fall foliage, following a somewhat subdued but still beautiful color show. Nights are cold now (most days, too) and a hard frost or two has already had its way with my basil, among other tender things.

In other words, winter is coming. In my neck of the woods, this means spending more time indoors with the windows locked up tight, breathing heated, recirculated air that may be seeded with – uh-oh – other people’s germs.

It’s been proposed that sickness increases in colder months not due to an actual increase in the amount of environmental pathogens but simply because we can’t get away from them. Indoor activities are preferred, public transportation is more crowded, fresh air is reduced, less time is spent in the sun producing Vitamin D and, of course, sugar intake skyrockets during the Holidays. All of these factors lead to increased susceptibility to disease.

It’s almost impossible not to be alarmed as news reports about "swine flu deaths" abound. What those reports fail to mention is that the sad instances of reported deaths related to H1N1 – or any flu in this country – typically occur in children and people who are already quite ill to begin with. But in a culture where "sensationalism sells" strategies support a dollar-driven healthcare system, even those of us in the natural health field may need to work harder to listen to our own sound voice of good reason.

Shameless (and in my opinion, irresponsible) advertisements for free flu shots and free antibiotics are popping up at pharmacies all over town – on billboards, LED displays, flyers – you name it. Last month, Walgreen’s was even advertising seasonal flu shots on the very same red-lit flashing outdoor sign as discounted double 12-packs of Coke and Big Grab bags of Doritos on sale. Talk about guerilla marketing.

There is nothing free about pharmaceutical drugs. On one side, just follow the money trail; on the other, the toll these poisons take on individual health and stamina. Whether today or in the future, the pipers will be paid if you buy into that system without asking questions.

I’m not saying that no one should ever take an antibiotic, or even a flu shot. Drugs like these absolutely have their place in the medicinal arsenal. But I do believe that most of the time, most of us really, honestly don’t need them.

There are many safe, natural steps we can take to boost our immune resistance to disease. A few of them are listed here, in an article I wrote for a local paper on fighting the flu with natural immune support. If there had been room, I would have definitely included a few more preventive measures, including one of my all-time favorite anti-viral aids: GARLIC!

If you think about it, garlic’s reputation for repelling vampires may not be so far-fetched. Flu viruses are merely lifeless protein packets, programmed to inject their DNA into the cellular nuclei of another, living being in order to replicate themselves. There’s definitely something vampire-like about that mechanism. (Alien and creepy, too, if not evil.)

The good news is that legends aside, garlic is a potent, scientifically proven protector against viral infection.

I have been taking advantage of garlic’s miraculous abilities since the chilly fall and winter of my nineteenth year. Due to unexpected life circumstances, I lived those frigid months just this side of homeless, spending most nights in an abandoned chicken shack and, when that flooded out, an unheated farmhouse attic. Every morning I would wake up, clamber out of my trusty down sleeping bag, get dressed with a quickness and then ride my bike down to Atkins’ Farms, the local orchard, to select a large, fresh-picked Empire apple for breakfast. This I would eat with one good-sized clove of raw garlic – a tasty combo for those who haven’t tried it. It is to the garlic that I have always attributed the fact that despite the challenges of my living situation, I did not once get sick that year, not even a sniffle.

Fortunately today I live in a cozy house, complete with wood stove and all the fixings, and from here, continue to love raw garlic. Although I generally skip the apple routine, I do consume as much as possible, especially at this time of year. Fresh chopped garlic goes well in or on just about everything - from fresh salads, raw soups and green smoothies to roasted potatoes, lentil stews, steamed veggies and more.

This winter salad is packed with immune boosting raw garlic and alkalizing mustard greens. Mustard greens, with their peppery, pungent flavor, happen to be an excellent source of vitamins A, C, E and K. The first three of these are premium cell-protective antioxidants, and eating the greens raw (though softened in a marinade) keeps levels high. A few jewel-like goji berries tossed in provide a festive air, plus sweetness and added antioxidant benefits.
Garlic Mustard Greens and Marinated Cauliflower Salad

1 bunch mustard greens, washed and spun dry
1 head organic cauliflower, chopped into small florets
1 handful each dulse (chopped), goji berries, raisins
½ cup pine nuts

½ cup extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
2 lemons’ juice
1 Tablespoon maple syrup or raw honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Dill
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt or favorite sea salt, more to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper or crushed red pepper flakes, more to taste

Combine fresh lemon juice, maple syrup or raw honey, garlic, dill, salt, and pepper and set aside. Finely chop the mustard greens and place in a large bowl. Pour olive oil over the greens and massage with your hands until every nook and cranny is coated. Add chopped cauliflower, chopped dulse, goji berries and raisins and stir to combine, either with your hands again, or a spoon. Add lemon juice mixture and mix well until greens, cauliflower and dried fruits are evenly coated with marinade.

Let the salad stand at room temperature for about three to four hours, stirring occasionally. I like to mix in pine nuts just before serving so they remain crispy, but you could add them earlier if you prefer. Store salad in fridge; keeps a few days…so tasty!


Rae said...

Thanks for posting this! I have half a bunch of mustard to use up and kept finding recipes insisting I cook it and raw people saying that it is too bitter to use. I am going to give your version a try today!

eat2evolve said...

You are welcome, Rae! Those silly raw people...right? Let me know how you liked the salad. :) Diana