Monday, May 10, 2010

Raw Magic Greens

There’s a magical way of preparing deep green leafy vegetables so that they look and taste “cooked” but are actually, secretly raw!

The nutritional advantages of this magical preparation method are great, as it is well known that cooking greens (and other veggies) causes a massive loss of vitamins and minerals.

On the other hand, cooked leafy veggies are comforting and, for many folks, easier to chew and digest due to the the softening of hard or tough cellulose fibers. Cooking also shrinks chlorophyll-rich greens, allowing you to eat more of them in one sitting. Now there's a way to get the best of both worlds.

Raw Magic Greens rely on the power of salt (natural sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, etc.) and acid (from lemon or lime juice) to break down cellulose walls (think softening) and release water (think shrinkage) from raw greens. The third required ingredient, a little high quality cold pressed oil – extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, etc. – allows the salt and lemon juice to coat every surface of the greens. As a result, you will find yourself able to polish off an ENTIRE bunch of, say, raw kale in one sitting with ease and relish! (No, I don’t mean the condiment relish, silly. I’m talking GUSTO, here.)

Depending on which deep green leafy vegetable you are using, one of two techniques may be used to make Raw Magic Greens. The first of these, gentle massaging, is recommended for kinky and broad-leafed greens like curly kale or Swiss chard. It was taught to me by my dear friend Marilyn, whose Massaged Kale recipe, as you will see below, is created by feel in more ways than one!

Yes, hands and fingers are involved with the massaging technique, so be sure to scrub your paws and claws scrupulously before you begin. (Some may wish to wear food-service grade “rubber” gloves for massaging. When cooking for others, as in a potluck dish, gloves are strongly advised – if only to engender trust in your fellow diners. But if it’s just you that’s eating, I’d say clean-palm essence trumps rubber any day.)

After making (and inhaling) a batch of Marilyn’s delicious Massaged Kale (pictured above), I decided to try a similar recipe with baby bok choi. Because this crisp Asian green is hard, long and smooth rather than supple, wide and crannied, massaging is not required and Technique Number Two–plenty of tossing and an hour or more of marinating time–can be employed. But the three magic ingredients: salt, acid and oil, are still basic to the process.

With either technique you’ll end up with a “side dish” that can fool even a 16-year old boy into believing he is eating especially tasty cooked greens. (I have proof of this.) Soft but still crunchy, sweet and salty, packed with natural vitamins, minerals and enzymes AND super quick and easy to prepare–Raw Magic Greens have it all! You MUST try.

Consider the following recipes as jumping off points that may be modified as your tastes, produce supply and seasoning ingredients inspire. Flaxseed oil may be substituted for olive oil to vary flavor and boost your omega-3 fatty acid intake. (Omega-3s fight depression, are good for your heart and help decrease all kinds of inflammation in the body.)

Massaged Kale

1 bunch kale
organic lemon juice – fresh or bottled
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Wash kale and remove overhanging stem from leaf. (Stem can be saved for juicing.) Slice kale crosswise into one-inch wide, horizontal strips and place in large bowl. Drizzle sliced kale with olive oil (up to three tablespoons, depending upon your desire for fat and the amount of kale). Sprinkle evenly with sea salt (a decent pinch-worth or two or three) and add lemon juice (about the same amount as you used olive oil). Then, with a very clean hand, begin massaging the oil-salt-lemon juice into the leaves. Use your fingers to get into the curly places, and use your entire hand to create a gentle squeezing action. This squeezing in particular will help the kale shrink down. Like magic, your bowlful of greens will become an extraordinarily much smaller pile of greens, perfect for one or two. Give a little taste and adjust salt or lemon if desired before serving.

After massaging kale, add any or all of the following and mix well:

fresh garlic, pressed or grated (1-2 cloves)
nutritional yeast (a generous sprinkle)
raw cashew butter (about 1 teaspoon. Smush into liquid that escaped from kale during massage, which you will find at bottom of bowl, and stir the resulting paste into greens. Creamy!)

Ginger-Sesame Bok Choi

4 baby bok choi
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1 Tablespoon each extra virgin olive oil, untoasted sesame oil
2 pinches Himalayan pink salt
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 drops liquid stevia extract (I like SteviaClear brand)

Separate bok choi leaves from base; wash well and dry. (Often, bits of dirt cling to the lower stalks so be sure to rub these off under running water.) Chop bok choi horizontally into one-inch chunks and place in large bowl. Combine the oils, lime juice and stevia. Pour this mixture over the bok choi and toss with a wooden spoon. Sprinkle evenly with salt and toss thoroughly again for about a minute. Add ginger and crushed red pepper and toss some more. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Allow to marinate at room temperature, one hour or longer, while magic happens and flavors marry. Toss again if possible, once or twice, during this time. Refrigerate after a few hours if you haven’t eaten it yet. Keeps well for up to four days. ☺


glutenfreeforgood said...

This is great information, Diana. I like a large percentage of my veggies raw, but I do like those "rubber glove" greens like collards, slightly cooked. This is a good way to avoid that if you want. The bok choy looks delicious. Seriously delicious! Please pass me some.

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

Melissa, I can't wait to see what kind of Magic Greens you come up with now! Keep me posted... ♥

Catherine Fabrizi said...

what a delightful treatment for greens!!! i would imagine that "massaged greens" will be a treat in the warmer months especially. how wants to slave over a hot stove, right? thank you!

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

You're welcome, Cathy. I always remember how you taught me to macerate minced garlic in olive oil - that would work for these, too. Verdi magici italiano, anyone...?

Anderburf said...

This sounds really good! I just got some Himalayan pink salt and organic peppercorns from Sustainable Sourcing and I think I'll try them out in this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

sarah said...

Thank you Diana, fabulous information and presentation. Those bok choy roses are so inspiring!
I'm lighting some candles and getting ready to massage!

Diana Allen, MS, CNS said...

sarah, sounds like you are planning a romantic dinner, lol. enjoy :)

anderburf, himalayan pink salt is my favorite - such a complex flavor bouquet beyond saltiness. (local readers take note: i just started carrying this item at community superfoods: just $5.10 for a one-pound bag...!)