Conscious Cook: Let there be spring
“The beautiful spring came and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” — Harriet Ann Jacobs
After a long winter, the lighter and lovelier days of spring are a welcome sight. Nature begins to release from the icy clutches of colder months, revealing a softer, more subtle landscape. Tiny blossoms begin to inch their way upward, and bit by bit, glimpses of green soften our souls.
Green is such a welcome color, bright, invigorating, soothing and gladdening. Eating all the glorious green foods of spring will fill the body with restorative nutrients and nourishing health benefits. Baby lettuces, herbs, and an assortment of dark, leafy greens are among the first crops to grace spring gardens. Arugula, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach, Swiss chard, kale, chives and parsley all lend pops of fresh flavor and intoxicating color to spring plates.
Full of beneficial enzymes, greens can help promote proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. The nitrite content in greens can potentially increase the body’s fat burning ability, making them an effective ally in any weight loss campaign. Rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, beta-carotene and lutein, spring greens bathe the body in beautiful benefits, including younger looking skin, healthy hair and nails, natural sun damage protection and an overall sense of well -being. The chlorophyll content in greens may help neutralize accumulated toxins in the body.
An endless array of luscious dishes can be prepared with spring greens. Spectacular salads can be composed by combining peppery arugula with tender baby spinach and kale leaves and dressing with a lively lemon vinaigrette. Add minced Italian parsley and snipped chives for herbal flavor and fragrance. "For a more robust rendition, dress those greens with a coat of zesty garlic mustard dressing and a shower of freshly shaved parmesan cheese. Sautéed shrimp and a nice handful of sundried tomatoes will turn that salad into a main dish event. Add spring greens and herbs to soups, stir fries and smoothies for marvelous color and flavor.
Greens and eggs are perfectly compatible. An arugula and herb omelet makes for a sophisticated, yet speedy dinner entrée. Scrambled with spinach and a lovely brie, and you have a terrific treat for Sunday morning breakfast. Crustless quiche is a brilliant method for feeding a crowd on a busy spring morning.
Let there be spring as you prepare your delicious life!
Let There Be Spring Greens Quiche
2 cups well cleaned mushrooms, sliced
1 cup asparagus tips
3 cups chopped baby spinach or kale leaves
1 cup chopped arugula
12 large eggs
½ cup skim milk
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh chives, minced
¼ cup chopped Italian parsley
¼ cup chopped dill
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, swiss or asiago)
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with baking spray. In a large skillet, heat grapeseed oil. Add garlic and sauté until just turning golden. Add mushrooms and sauté until well browned. Add asparagus, sauté for just a minute or two, then add spinach or kale leaves and arugula. Sauté for one minute, or until greens are just starting to wilt. Remove pan from heat. Place mixture into prepared baking pan.
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Stir in chives, parsley, dill, smoked paprika and cheese. Stir until well combined. Pour over vegetable mixture and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until eggs are set and a knife inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean. Enjoy warm or cold!
Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, The Conscious Cook, writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener, and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.