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Fun Ways To Eat Your Greens

Feb/25/2024 / by Sweta Vikram

Make the most of fresh winter produce

Variety of green vegetables on a table with purple cloth
Photo via Shutterstock

There used to be a running joke in my family that my mom would make the driver stop the car if she spotted winter vegetables. It was as if she had spotted a unique solitaire earring at Cartier or Tiffany’s. Mom loved her varieties of saagor winter greens. The joy on her face was priceless as she sorted through the vegetable seller’s stock of bathua and laal saag to sift through the mud. The deep, red-colored carrots for gajar halwa brought a twinkle to her eyes. 

Mom was creative with her recipes too—from bathua ka raita to spinach and cilantro pilaf to sarson ka saag with makki di roti to cabbage with rohu fish to matar ki daal to the fluffy spinach flan or palak chicken. There were also the usual winter items on the dining table: gajar ka halwa, methi ka paratha, palak pakoras, cabbage and peas sookhi sabzi, and many more.

There was no convincing me as I have always loved all kinds of vegetables. Even the meat-lovers in our family would relish Mom’s unique and flavorful take on winter vegetables.

What Are Winter Greens?

Winter greens are green-leaved produce, closely related to the cabbage, that are available in winter. But with globalization and commercialization of agriculture, a lot of seasonal and winter vegetables are available throughout the year. I use baby spinach in my cooking year-round, and spot avocados 365 days of the year in the supermarket.

Some of the common vegetables described as winter greens are arugula, avocado, chard, spinach, leeks, kohlrabi, mustard greens, winter squash, watercress, fennel, collards, rapini, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, parsnips, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, beets, bok choy, kale, and a few more. 

Ayurveda’s Take On Winter Greens

Late winter to early spring is kapha season in Ayurveda. Kapha is made up of earth and water elements. When in balance, kapha helps lubricate joints, builds endurance of mind and body as well as immunity and is responsible for the softness of the skin.

But if kapha gets aggravated, it can lead to phlegm, congestion, wet cough, lethargy, lack of motivation, clinginess, weight gain, dullness, and even negative emotions. During this season, one needs extra protection to keep seasonal cold, flu, and allergies at bay. Winter greens are nutrient-dense and supply calcium, magnesium, folate and vitamins A, K and C.

Leafy greens are both nourishing and detoxifying in Ayurveda. But you should choose cooking times and variety based on your dosha imbalance. For example, bok choy has a sweet taste, which lowers pitta dosha while arugula and mustard greens have a pungent taste, which can aggravate pitta. If eating greens gives you gas or bloating, this is a sure sign of increased vata dosha. Add vata-pacifying spices to finely chopped greens and avoid eating them raw. If you sauté winter greens in ghee, the combination tastes good, helps you stay warm, and boosts immunity. 

Unique Ways To Cook Winter Vegetables

Winter veggies are a versatile bunch—you can use them in a variety of ways and use them in all sorts of recipes. We all have our family favorites and hand-me-down recipes. But isn’t it fun to try new ways to use them?

Firstly, wash the greens thoroughly. I like to chop off the stem in the veggies that seem hard. You can grind them and turn them into pesto. 

With Eggs

At a brunch a few weeks ago, the chef had used fresh vegetables from the farm and seasonal produce in their cooking. The eggs were delicious, and I got a second serving of it because I wanted to figure out what made these simple scrambled eggs so unique. Turns out it was leek! Try it. The eggs also had tomatoes and chopped spinach. There is something so satiating about a bowl of warm, comforting, and healthy food in your hands, no?

With Meat 

You can also pair winter leafy greens with animal protein. Bok choy tastes delicious in a stir fry with chicken. A friend of mine cooks onion, garlic, collard greens, and mincemeat together and then adds them to rice noodles.

Mixing Them Up

Have you ever tried mixing mustard greens with collard greens, radish, carrots, and parsnip? Add a little jaggery. It’s a unique spin on sarson ka saagSqueeze a little lemon for better iron absorption.

 You can chop up green leafy veggies, add some oil, spices, and salt and knead it with flour. Easy, Sunday brunch idea– parathas with veggies. You can also grate carrots and add to the dough. I also love making a hearty pot of Ayurvedic khichdi with winter vegetables and adding seasonal spices to it. It hits the spot, especially after all the holiday parties and fancy eating.

Other Ideas To Use Winter Greens

Garnish your pizza with arugula

Include arugula or other leafy green in a sandwich

Make a beet burger with avocado and a layer of lettuce  

Are you willing to give winter greens a try this season? 

“Eating healthy food fills your body with energy and nutrients. Imagine your cells smiling back at you and saying: ‘Thank you! ‘” ~ Karen Salmansohn

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