Thursday, January 21, 2010

How to Eat a Salad

I hope you're laughing! I would have, but yes, I've learned to prepare salads.

Susun Weed did a good job of showing how thick the cell walls are on plants. Some nutritionists don't advise depending on greens for calcium and other minerals unless they are cooked because they can't be digested unless the cell walls are destroyed.

I always sit down when I hear things like this and think, in my usual way, "but then why do we have teeth?" And then I hear that apes are not cows and not cats and only meant to eat fruit. And I have to sit down again.

The favorite way for a chimp to eat leaves is to roll up a bunch of leaves into a pack and then chew and suck on them for an hour or so. Like gum or chaw. That seems like a very logical, very practical way of getting out all those nutrients, mixing them with enzymes and not eating all that cellulose. Cool. Now should we all start chewing leaves and spitting out the dead pack into spittoons in our offices? Hm.

I hear of many people eating blended salads. My husband is not big into noise, so no blenders at our house. And I did learn that chopping up salad greens was very bad because chopping destroyed the cell walls and turned the greens brown. Hm, I say, in my very Anne-ish way. Chopping destroys the cell walls. Chopping is good.

So I started cutting up my salads with scissors. I'm not a good chopper. But I have a wide, shallow dish for salad, and cut off the leaves of kale, lettuce and what have you into this dish and then go at it with the scissors until I can eat it with a spoon. Then I use the ol' grater. I grate beets or other roots or raw winter squash or summer squash or green papaya and put them in salad or use them as a rice substitute in a nori sheet. I also grate stuff as a pasta substitute and put pestos on top.

Pesto is another great way to eat a salad. I use a mortar and pestle and mash up herbs and greens that go a long way (strong tasting) like dill and basil and mix them half and half with dandelions or nettles or parsley, mix in a bit of olive oil, maybe some soaked nuts or seeds and, voila! pesto.

But the key to eating veggies is to masticate them into almost a juice by the time you swallow them. You can chew for a long time, but if you're rushed, used the scissors.

Recipe for a iron-rich salad

Three red lettuce leaves (or dandelion)
Three red kale leaves
A few sprigs of parsley
A tablespoon of dried dulse flakes
A grated beet
A teaspoon of dried nettles
Dill or other herb to taste
A tablespoon of sprouted sunflower seeds (or sesame seeds)
Some olive oil.

I cut up the greens very fine, and find that this combination of greens and such is very mild. I've found that certain strong-tasting herbs and greens seem to cancel each other out, or blend together to make a very palatable salad.

Here is my favorite pesto recipe

A cup of basil
A cup of parsley
A cup of dandelion greens
A teaspoon dried nettles
A half-teaspoon kelp granules
A tablespoon of some kind of soaked nuts (walnuts, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, etc.)
Olive oil.

I can't eat garlic, but if you can add it. I cut up the greens and them mash them in the mortar after I have mashed up the nuts with a little oil. Keep adding oil until you get the paste consistency you desire.

This is delicious on a cup of grated butternut squash.

Pestos are a great way of getting greens into kids and other people who won't eat nettles or dandelions or such. The basil is strong enough to hide the taste of almost anything. Basil is so strong that I usually cut it with another less expensive green anyway like parsley.


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