Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What's Cooking? Happy Green Stuff

With shorter days and colder temperatures, winter months often bring on some serious cases of the blues. And yet there is really no reason why this must be so. A co-worker sent me an article in Mother Jones that argues what I had only dreamed could be true - that eating kale can make you happier. The article cited a study by Harvard researchers linking an adult's level of optimism with the amount of carotenoid antioxidants in the bloodstream. Researchers also identified fruit and vegetable consumption as one potential pathway to increase carotenoids, which abound in green and orange vegetables. Like any responsible scientist, these researchers note that their study can't conclusively link eating kale (or other green/orange veggies) to optimism. Ok, so it's a bit more of a correlation than a direct link. But then again, it can't hurt you to eat more of a good thing.

Regardless of whether kale and sweet potatoes actually make me optimistic (they sure make me happier...), there is no doubt they are healthy and part of a nutritious diet. Why then do we not consume more of these foods? Last Wednesday I discussed the draw of salt, fat, and sugar, which in the right combinations make a food almost irresistible. And while processed foods have their scientists, stylists, and marketing professionals, kale is just kale. An NPR piece in the series on healthy families suggested that if parents eat their veggies, kids are more likely to be healthy eaters in the long-run.

Instead of posting another recipe for kale smoothies or salads, I dug into my archive and noticed quite a large stockpile of past entries focused on leafy greens. There really is no end to the culinary possibilities, if you put your creativity into it. I've made kale in a pan with some caramelized pears or as part of a salad with tangy dressing. Collard greens have made it onto my plate, and mustard greens into my lunch pail. And while there is no end to what amazingness you can do with salads (thanks, Gena), there are also always ways to sneak in a bit more verdure into your other edibles...

Stay green, my friend :)

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