The Lenten season began last Thursday and the period is all about constraint. That includes what we eat. So how do we keep our body nourished while showing constraint in what we consume? In two words fruits and vegetables. Throughout the season Food takes you through the colours of the rainbow with delicious salads using one colour at a time. We start this week with the the colour green.
This includes calaloo, lettuce, string beans, pak choi, cabbage and cucumber.
We all know how good fruits and vegetables are for us but here is a refresher.
This comes from the family of pumpkin, zucchini and other squashes. One quick and easy way to have it is by itself, washed, sliced and mixed with a little black pepper and salt. But it's great when incorporated into any salad. It's almost tasteless, so if you don't like your vegetables, this one will be great for you, as it is mostly made up of distilled water. It contains vitamin A and C manganese, molybdenum, potassium, silica, and small amounts of vitamin B complex, sodium, calcium, phosphorus and chlorine.
It's hard to think of a salad and forget lettuce. Romaine lettuce is the most nutrient dense of all the lettuce varieties and is an excellent source of vitamins A, B1, B2, and C, folic acid, manganese and chromium, while Iceberg lettuce variety provides a good source of choline. It is important to know that the outer leaves may contain 50 times more nutrients than the stem, so eat everything.
Don't wrinkle your nose at this round headed fellow. Cabbage is rich in the following nutrients:
Vitamin A: responsible for the protection of your skin and eyes.
Vitamin C: an all important anti-oxidant and helps the mitochondria to burn fat.
Vitamin E: a fat soluble antioxidant which plays a role in skin integrity.
Vitamin B: helps maintain integrity of nerve endings and boosts energy metabolism.
Green beans or string beans have the same nutritional benefits as other common beans such as lima and kidney beans.
Common beans are low in fat and offer an excellent source of protein, fibre, and complex carbohydrates. They provide significant amounts of iron, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. The major health benefit of common beans is their ability to lower cholesterol due to their rich source of fibre. Studies have shown that the high fibre contained in beans prevents blood sugar levels form rising too rapidly after a meal. This makes beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycaemia.
Common beans promote heart health due to their fibre, antioxidants, folic acid, vitamin B6, and magnesium. Folic acid and vitamin B6 help to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid. Elevated blood levels of it are a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. Research has also indicated that beans are also protection against cancer.
Having anti-inflammatory properties, green beans are beneficial for those suffering from asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have also revealed that green beans help reduce the frequency of migraine attacks in people. The presence of vitamin K in green beans makes them very good for maintaining bone health.
Bok choy or pak choi as we know it, is one of the popular mainland crops in Oriental regions, but Jamaicans have a taste for it as well.
It is one of the rare vegetables that is very low in calories. However, it is a very rich source of many vital phyto-nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A hundred grams provides just 13 calories. It is one of the recommended vegetables that aid burning calories and weight reduction.
It contains certain antioxidant plant chemicals. Along with dietary fibre, these vitamin compounds help to protect against certain cancers and help reduce the 'bad cholesterol' levels. Fresh pak choi is an excellent source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). A hundred grams provide 75 per cent of the daily requirements of the vitamin. Regular consumption of foods rich in vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents.
Pak choi is a very good source of vitamin K and provides about 38 per cent of the recommended dietary allowance levels. Enough vitamin K in the diet makes your bones stronger, healthier and delays osteoporosis.
Fresh pak choi has many vital B-complex vitamins such as riboflavin (vitamin B5). These vitamins are essential in that our body requires them from external sources to replenish. Pak choi also contains a good amount of minerals like calcium, potassium, and iron.
Moroccan Green Bean Salad Recipe - Cold String Bean Salad with Vinaigrette
1 lb. (about 1/2 kg) fresh green beans
Small roasted red pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
11/2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice
Hot paprika, cayenne pepper, or black pepper
Remove the ends from the green beans and cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Wash and drain the beans, place them in a pot, and cover with cold salted water.
Bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot, and simmer the beans about 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender.
Immediately drain the beans, and cover with cold water to stop further cooking. Allow the beans to sit in the water for a minute, then drain again.
When the beans have cooled completely, gently press them to squeeze out excess water. Put the beans in a large bowl with the remaining ingredients, and season to taste. Toss gently to mix, cover tightly, and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
Prior to serving, taste the salad and adjust the seasoning if desired.
- Recipe courtesy f:http://moroccanfood.about.com/od/saladsandsidedishes/r/green_bean_salad.htm.
1 head romaine lettuce- rinsed, dried and chopped
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 (6 ounce) can pitted black olives
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, sliced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 lemon, juicedground black pepper to taste
1. In a large salad bowl, combine the Romaine, onion, olives, bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumber and cheese.
2. Whisk together the olive oil, oregano, lemon juice and black pepper. Pour dressing over salad, toss and serve.