“The older the fiddle the sweeter the tune.” — Irish saying

Spring is on its way! The reawakening of the earth and the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day both provide conscious cooks with wonderful inspiration. Now is the time to explore the luscious, life-sustaining benefits of cooking and eating with all things green, particularly dark, leafy greens.

Greens are a powerful part of a healthy diet, and are some of the most invigorating foods we can consume. High in fiber content and a superb digestive aid, eating more greens may help stabilize blood sugar, lower cholesterol, boost immunity and help prevent heart disease.

In the market there are an amazing array of greens to choose from. Cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli rabe, beet greens, bok choy, kale, collard and mustard greens, arugula and even herbs, are all packed with antioxidants, as well as iron, folic acid, chlorophyll, magnesium, vitamins A and C and beta carotene.

When purchasing your greens, conscious consumers should attempt to choose organic as often as possible. Organic greens will have a fuller, more robust flavor. Be sure to choose bunches with the most intense, vivid color, with no yellowing or brown stalks or leaves.

Once you have selected your greens, you can prepare them in a myriad of ways. Kale and Swiss chard are an excellent addition to soups and frittatas, or make a vibrant side dish when sautéed with olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper. Beet greens are fantastic when steamed and drizzled with apple cider vinegar. Cabbages of all kinds and colors are perfect for crispy, crunchy coleslaw or roasted until sweet and soft. Savoy cabbage is particularly nice when added to mashed potatoes, along with parsley and kale, to create the traditional Irish dish, colcannon.

A delicious addition to any Irish-inspired meal, colcannon is a delightful way to consume life-sustaining greens!

May the road to preparing a delicious life rise up to greet you!

Green Hills Colcannon

Serves 6

2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled, washed and chopped)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 large sweet onions, peeled and diced

4-5 cups savoy cabbage, shredded

2 1/2 cups vegetable broth

4 cups kale, washed and chopped

1 cup Italian parsley, washed and chopped

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add potatoes. Cook until quite tender. Drain, saving 1 cup of the cooking water. Season potatoes with salt and pepper, then mash, using as much water as necessary to reach desired consistency. (Some like it a little chunky, others like very smooth)

Heat olive oil with 1 tablespoon of butter in a large frying pan, and saute onions until they are golden. Add savoy cabbage to onions with 1/2 cup of vegetable broth. Cover pan and cook over medium low heat until cabbage is tender. Set aside.

In a stockpot, bring remaining 2 cups of broth to a boil. Add the kale and cook for a few minutes, just until tender. Remove kale from pot and drain well in a colander. Stir cooked kale and the cabbage mixture into the potatoes. Season well with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a casserole dish. Dot with 1 tablespoon of butter and bake for 15-20 minutes, until piping hot. Serve immediately.

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 and Columbia University Teachers College.