In the realm of vegetables, greens are favored for their potent punch of nutrition. As with many health foods, those that have a special renaissance also make a come back with a special price. Greens have gone through a process of gentrification, so to speak. Once they were a diet staple for the low income populous as they were cheap and easy to grow. We know around here that if its easy to grow, it is a robust plant that will yield robust nutrition. It is for their nutrition that they are now so sensational.
Every year, I grow way more greens then we can eat, so they eventually end up going to the sheep, the chickens, or the compost.
My most reliable greens-eating sheep were traded away before the winter and with a bumper crop of greens this summer, I set out to preserve as many as I could via drying...
Although we live off the grid, we still have plenty of days (more sun, more solar power for us) where we can use our Excalibur dehydrator for a good portion of the day. Luckily greens only take a few hours in there to dry out so it works pretty good.
There are many options when it comes to drying greens if you are without a dehydrator.
The most popular way is to put your oven, or toaster oven, on the lowest heat setting and place your washed and fully dried greens in there with the door propped open and a little fan in front to ventilate. You can cut your dehydrating time in half by using this method — but it can use a good bit of energy and it requires your attention.
Perhaps the most efficient way to dry greens requires the least thought and effort and doesn't cost anything! You can lay them out on screens and place them in your greenhouse which maintains a warm climate even into the late fall.
No greenhouse? No problem! Find your most arid domestic climate, place your greens on screens and let them rest there for several days while you go about your business. No need to temperature control or worry about burning down the house. Alternately, you can bunch your greens, wrap them with a rubber band, and hang them upside down from anywhere in your home. Stay away from direct sunlight when using this method as the sun can bleach out some of the chlorophyll. Once again, mother nature wins with her intelligent designs!
You can make beautiful bouquets of flavor with your bouquets of greens by adding in herbs. If you want a nourishing flavor blend for soups you could add rosemary, thyme, parsley, or any other herb to one of your inverted culinary wreathes of green.
If you wanted something you could spoon into smoothies, leave out the savory herbs, and opt for milder greens like spinach as your green base and add in green stevia, mint, or anise for a sweeter flavor profile.
Kale, collards, swiss chard, spinach, mustard and dandelion greens, herbs, algaes, sprouts, and wild lettuces... On and on. Paleo and vegans alike advocate consuming these veggies by the crop full, but why?
As far as vegetables go, they pack a pretty potent punch of nutrition. They offer up a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You'll get a good dose of iron (more iron per calories than beef in kale), calcium (more calcium per calorie than milk in kale), magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, B, C, and K. Add to that carotenoids and flavonoids and you've got yourself vegetables worth making an effort over. On top of all that, there's all the untold nutrition to be had that has yet to be quantified and calculated by science.
Finally, if you want to supercharge your green powder, you could add in wild greens such as lamb's quarter, nettle, dandelion, sorrel, plantain, etc. Or spirulina, chlorella, seaweed, or probiotics. If you take this approach, it ensures the highest quality soup or smoothie that you or your loved ones enjoy. You can avoid unwanted ingredients or even toxic fillers when you create your own super food green powder by ordering from reputable companies that have rigorous quality control for their products.
The nourishment given by your food can be furthered by harking back to the process of cultivating, harvesting, and storing it yourself. Building a relationship with food in this way engenders an intimacy with the whole biosphere that so many of us are missing. It's not all science, there's an art and grace to it too. Actively being a part of the start to finish process with what makes it's way into your mouth will afford you the oversight and management of what and how you are nourishing yourself. It is the departure from this intimate practice that takes such a great toll on our health and our planet.
I have heard numerous herbalists say some of your best medicine is right outside your door. It is important to bring this practice home for you, whatever that looks like.
If I look around, I see loads of dandelion, plantain, mugwort, sorrel, wild lettuces... and many, many more wildly nutritious plants, most of which made it into my green powder!
No need to buy into "Superfood" companies that package up greens from all over the globe, add ingredients that you aren't familiar with, and say it will keep your energized and boost your immunity. The expense of buying products like these hurts more than your wallet as ingesting unknown and unneeded ingredients stored in toxic packaging is deleterious to the body and the earth.