Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stretch-the-Veg Greens Update

Jack had surgery yesterday on his forehead, to remove a cancerous place.

Yes, the C Word...the panic-inducer, life-flashing-in-front-of-your-eyes word association. The day we found that out, I was pulling up every possible internet dietary recommendation I could get my hands on under the title Cancer Prevention. At the top of every list was the category Greens. Dark, leafy greens of every sort are a vital component of a body's cancer-and-other-diseases defense team. Those same leafy greens are something we really need to include more of in our meals around here, and that means finding ways to enjoy eating them as well as developing some garden savvy in growing them.

Thankfully, they seem to be an easy food to grow, and here in Florida, we should be able to stretch a couple of seasons and still keep them going. In colder areas, I'd imagine they could be included among other greens grown under a protective polytunnel or other crop-prolonging method.

We didn't have an active seasonal in-ground garden of any sort this year, for reasons discussed in prior posts. What we did do is begin slower-growing plants, and some herbs, trees, experimental and exotics in 5 gallon (what else?? ha) pots. We're gearing up to make decisions about what to start putting into the ground and whether we'll be seeing any daylight with our goals for relocation. So many decisions, quite a bit of waiting, and so many things that just can't's a head-scratcher sometimes trying to find ways to strike a balance.

Recently, I posted about dual-use veggies...ones commonly used for a better-known food (think beets, turnips, sweet potatoes, okra, papaya), but with the real potential of dual usage for humans for a second table food. In these cases, the second food is Greens.

We're continuing to experiment a bit with our Blood Sugar Regulator plant, Gynura procumbens/ Sambung Nyawa. Its flavor is not unpleasant, but since it is a new taste to me, I'm not used to it...and so we experiment for a better taste "fit." So far, we've had it raw in salad, steeped fresh in hot water as a tea, blanched, and a cut up and stir friend ingredient in chicken enchiladas (mmm!)

We still have 3 1/2 gallon ziplock bags full in the fridge, and I'm trying not to waste it. Tonight's inclusion was with some shredded cabbage, stir-fried in a tablespoon of olive oil with a pinch of salt and then continued briefly with the addition of a couple tablespoons water, to sort of steam/stir fry it just till the greens brighten and begin softening. I don't cook past that point...I like them tender, cooked till no longer crunchy, but no more...I can't stand pale, gray, limp overcooked cabbage.

The picture above is at the just-done point. I served this for each person tonight for dinner in a bowl, in this order: hot cooked rice, some cabbage and greens served on top of that, and a ladle of steaming Winter Squash-and- Turkey Soup over all. Yum!

Over at a recent entry on Duane Marcus' blog The Funny Farm, he's written about finding another wonderful Asian green called Komatsuna. It is said to be delicious eaten for its greens as well as its stalks, which can be substituted fresh for celery. I've never tried it, but he says his customers enjoy it, and gives it great reviews for its hardiness and ability to withstand some cold weather as well as heat without bolting. It's a warmer zone plant, so we'll be looking into it for sure. Thanks for the heads-up, Duane!


P~ said...

I don't know if you're a fan of chard or not or if you've ever tried growing it, but it is very easy to grow, gives alot of harvest per plant, and will grow from spring until late fall with no problems. I've also seen it grown in pots, so it ought to be right up your alley! Hope your husbands doing well. Best wishes.

Christina said...

We eat alot of collard and spinich around here... I told sweetie about sweet potato greens and he is feeding some to the chickens.... who know... we might try...

Brenda@A View From The Pines said...

Yep, I need to consume more of those dark green veggies. I guess everyone probably does. My daughter had some cancerous places on her back that they removed, and she's fine. It was a while ago. Came from going to the tanning beds as a teen. Boy, why don't they ban those damned tanning beds!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Hope the surgery went well and that no more "C" thingies show up on him again!

I was wondering if cooking the greens minimizes any of their beneficial nutrients?


Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

OH - I hope he is OK! I went on a solidarity diet with a friend about 6 years ago, she had breast cancer and she decided on alternative treatment.

She was to heal herself with food.
No grains, no sugar, with ample amounts of pastured meats, raw milk, and lots of veggies which she had to purchase until she learned to grow them. One thing she had to eat as a medicinal was a 2" section of Daikon radish every day.

She is cancer free, no surgery and she has adopted this diet full time. She and I both noticed that as soon as we cut out the bread, and grains, our joints did not ache anymore, and all types of achy,numb feelings in our wrists disappeared also. In Nourishing Traditions, there are some sidebars about carpal tunnel, and it is thought to be an effect of grains being out of balance in the area of B vitamins, especially B6. A note, here, we both do heavy physical farm work daily, year in and year out. Probably the most changing thing about this diet was cutting out the bread. Some of the chronic diseases of today were unheard of when people ate better, and most are just assumed to be a symtom of working conditions etc. When in fact, we are just eating low quality foodstuffs.

I hope Jack is well - this is a rough time after his mother passing. Our thoughts are with you!

Robbyn said...

Paul, I love chard! Great idea and thank you for the reminder :)

Christina, let me know how this goes. Like I said, I'm more comfortable verifying which varieties are better for eating via some more research. It looks like some are tastier than others.

Brenda, I used to go to the tanning beds occasionally as a teen, too...of course when you're that age, you never think of the years to come as being a reality :)

Lisa, thank you :) You have a good point...I know that with some foods, including leaves, cooking them makes them edible when otherwise they'd be harder to digest or have unwanted elements such as oxalic acid that makes them inedible. With others, the raw food is the one to go for. I'd research each and find out which way to go is better. I know a lot of people benefit from safe, raw foods.

Thanks Nita! I have a question about your solidarity diet...and by the way, I'm so glad your friend is cancer-free!...did you limit or eliminate your consumption of other starches such as rice and potatoes? Were the grains you eliminated the gluten-producing sort, or all grains entirely? It sounds similar to anti-fungal regimens, which I've noticed are the basis of most diet changes for cancer as well as MS, diabetes, chronic fatigue, and fibromyalgia. Just wondering...
(man, it's hard for me to forgo homemade bread, but I would if it were beneficial)

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

Robbyn, the diet excluded all grains and rice, but not potatoes. It was basically high protein (pastured of course)and carbs from veggies. We didn't realize how tired and lethargic we were from eating grain products, until we quit eating them.

I don't miss bread anymore, but my DH thinks he will die without it, so I didn't quite get out of baking detail...yet.

I was thinking about you today, and some greens we used in our summer mesclun mix would do good for your climate. Our customers welcomed the change. We used a lot of Goldberger Purslane, Orach, and New Zealand Spinach, they are all heat lovers and good raw or lightly steamed except the purslane. The purslane is a good source of Omega 3 too.

Besides being cancer free now for a number of years - she finally lost her thunder thighs that she had worried about since high school. The diet also included butter, coconut oil, olive oil and lard, similar to Nourishing Traditions eating except no grains.

Robbyn said...

Nita, I think I could do that, with the exception of oatmeal...was corn out, too? as in stoneground corn meal?

Hope I'm not beating a dead horse, but did the program have a name? If something has actually worked, rather than being theoretical, it catches my attention. I have the Nourishing Traditions book -- was a wedding present over 4 years ago -- I really like it for everything except things I can't have as a Jew...the lard and pork products and anything with blood in it...I think I remember her having some raw meat in there. But the fermentation sections really struck me, and the understanding of particular fats in a new way. When we could afford good raw pet milk, my favorite "pet" enjoyed full-fat home-fermented Caspian Sea Yogurt every day and started dropping a lot of girth, amazingly...and he looked about 10 years younger (it was scarily amazing :)) We basically decided we need our own the time we added all the expenses to get the milk and projected them further a few more months, we could have maintained a cow on it easily!

I'd love to lose my Thunder Everything, thighs included... :)

Throwback at Trapper Creek said...

The diet was worked up by her ND for her specifically, she now eats a little corn, and oats actually but not too often, and the oats, even oatmeal should be soaked in whey overnight at possible.

My DH eats oatmeal, so that is part of my nightly ritual, soaking his porridge for breakfast, he tolerates it much better now. His health problems, stem from conception and now at 51 is he finally getting some answers. It's been too hard for me to deal with, and I never post about it, because chronic illness becomes your life, and I can't quite wrap my mind around how much his illness consumes us.

Nola @ Alamo North said...

Hmmm, making me hungry! I love greens, sauteed to just barely soft. I like to punch them up and splash them with hot pepper vinegar! They are so easy to grow, no reason not to have them fresh from the garden!
Brenda is right, they should ban those damn cancer machines. I have had skin cancers taken off that my dermatologist swears was caused by exposure in tanning beds (they are on places that would not normally see the light of day). Yet young girls continue to throw themselves down to cook to a golden brown. Ooops, sorry, didn't mean to get on my soapbox!

farm mom said...

Gosh, m'friend, you have been having such a year haven't you?! Big hugs comin' your way! Here's hoping 2009 brings all things wonderful to you and yours.

Paulette said...

You can do so many things with greens, and I love them cooked until just barely tender too. We don't like them mushy, and overcooking depletes a lot of the vitamins.
I make cabbage like you show here, but add chopped onion and let it steam with the cabbage, and when on hand, add slices of fresh tomatoes just a few minutes before removing from the stove. Yum. (I add a pinch of hot pepper flakes too, but not everyone likes that).
Hope your husband recovers nicely.