It’s Easy Being Green 12/07

December 2007

Lettuce

I love green. Why wouldn’t I? My eyes are green. Grass is green. Broccoli and bok choy are green. What’s not to like about green?

Somehow my favorite color takes the back seat to winter white, right about now. White stuff to eat like potatoes, bread, cookies and crackers abound. The availability of garden fresh produce like we had a few months ago is less abundant, of course. The truth is, when the temperatures plummet and the holidays roll in, we tend to want hearty, starchy food and greens go south for the winter.

Instead of consuming an over-abundance of refined carbohydrates so persistent this time of year, let’s make this season green, starting with our diets. All that sugary, white stuff contributes to unnecessary weight gain and wreaks havoc on our energy levels.

Readers unite! From this moment forward, think of Christmas greens as something for eating, not decorating. Now please don’t eat the tree. What I mean is, with a little imagination and desire you can easily consume the required 7 – 10 servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Shoot for at least one green vegetable per day. When you choose high-fibre carbohydrates like dark green vegetables you benefit from good nutrition, sustained energy, satiety and weight management.

Let me give you some ideas to get more, gorgeous green in your daily grub.

Green goes with everything. A handful of fresh spinach in your breakfast smoothie packs a nutritional punch and changes little in the way of taste or texture. Who says smoothies need to be pink or blue?

Tired of boiled broccoli? Turn it into a pureed soup that makes use of the nutrient rich water. "Boredom be gone" with a salad made of finely chopped, raw broccoli with toasted almonds, oranges and raisins. Lightly steamed green beans and asparagus are also delightful served as salads.

Have you been making salads with the same ingredients for a hundred years? Snap out of it! Snap peas provide crunch and fabulous fibre. Live on the edge and combine different greens. Have you tried Shanghai bok choy? Add fresh herbs like cilantro, basil and parsley for a distinctive flavor. Leave the iceberg out in the cold for a while. There is so much more to choose from in terms of flavour and nutrition.

Give bottled dressings a rest too, and pour your own combination of canola or olive oil (notice the green hue) and choice of vinegar, lime or lemon juice for a healthy and satisfying change. Spice to your pleasure, or not at all. You can’t go wrong.

Kale, also known as collard, is a highly nutritional green from the humble, cabbage family that you may have seen or heard about. Like me, you might have wondered what the heck to do with it. Here’s one idea. Remove the bitter stem, chop up the leaves and add to soups. Yum.

Now don’t be stingy with your greens. You can contribute to the good health of others by providing fresh food baskets instead of giving chocolates or cookies this year. There might still be time to mail order beautiful produce to your loved one’s door. The beauty of consumables is that they don’t take up space on a shelf or in the landfill, which brings me to another shade of green. It’s the environmental green.

I learned recently that Americans produce one million tons of "additional" garbage between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now that’s just gross! We can make the holidays so much greener if we just set the intention.

Put a spotlight on your consumption this holiday season. Choose consciously. Choose less. Choose green. Make choices that sustain personal health and the health of the planet.

It’s easy being green. For environmental ideas, see www.informinc.org/greener_holiday.php

Have a very Merry Christmas / Hanukah / Eid Al-adha / Kwanza / Winter Solstice. . . Let there be light. And may all your Christmases be green.