By Monika Bock
Spring has sprung and Earth day is Saturday April 22nd. Proper nutrition comes from eating your fair share of vegetables.
Since we are going “Green” this month, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to introduce (or possibly refresh your memory) of some of the awesome green veggies we have coming our way this season. Including greens into you and your family’s diet, increases your vitamin, mineral and fiber intake all of which keep you going and will fill you up. I always say that at least 2/3 of your plate should be made up of vegetables. Choosing seasonal fresh produce is a bonus.
Going green can take many forms, one way I like to introduce my clients to eating seasonably is to buy their produce at the weekly farmer’s markets here in Munich. (these of course are in addition to the Viktualienmarkt) There are farmer’s markets all over the city from Tuesday through Saturday. We are so lucky to live in Bavaria where much of the produce of Germany is grown. Adding to this, when you purchase locally you are reducing your carbon footprint as well.
You are not only getting fresh vegetables, you are helping to sustain the local agriculture when you purchase from the farmer’s market. This past Saturday the Sonnenhof was selling 500g of deliciously fresh green asparagus for 4,95€, I couldn’t resist and wasn’t disappointed!
Now let me introduce you to some familiar and possibly less familiar greens
1 Asparagus (Spargel)
Most Germans love the delicacy of white asparagus which is grown underground and harvested before it can poke it head out. To prepare this you will need a vegetable peeler as the sides can be tough. Most recipes call for dropping them in boiling water for 20 minutes and serving as desired you can also roast them or sauté them in a pan on the stove. Green asparagus can be steamed, roasted or grilled and paired with items like poached salmon, steak or chicken.
Asparagus also makes a fine side or addition to a breakfast frittata. Asparagus is an excellent source of potassium, Vitamins C, K and A.and is a good source of dietary fiber as well as antioxidants.
2. Ramson (Bärlauch)
This spring green has a short growing season and it has started to pop up in the farmer’s markets this last week. You can also purchase Ramson/Bärlauch at a variety of food markets.
Ramson is often called wild garlic and is the wild relative of chives. It is native to Europe. You can use this herb as a substitute for garlic as well as by making a delicious pesto. You can try adding it to hummus which give it a nice flavor. You can chop and add it to your favorite salad for just a little bit of spice. Finding some in our own English garden here in Munich is not difficult during this time of year. (Note: please do not attempt to harvest this unless you are familiar with it, as there are look-alike plants that are poisonous. Also, only take what you can use personally – you could be fined if you harvest and are caught with more.) At St.Michaelshof in the Viktualienmarkt you can find Bärlauch in different forms.
3. Savoy Cabbage (Wirsing)
This green is the more delicate and mild tasting cousin to the red and green cabbage that seems to be in abundance in the markets. You can identify it by its crinkly leaves (it looks a bit kale-like but in a cabbage form) Aside from having impressive amounts of antioxidants it has abundant amounts of Vitamin C and K in one cup. You can slice shred or use the full leaves to do some cabbage wraps. After slicing/chopping etc. allow the cabbage to “rest” for 10 min or so, this will allow the flavors to develop. Sautéed cabbage with garlic and scallions is an easy tasty side dish.
4. Dandelion Greens (Löwenzahn)
Most of us think on yellow flowers and making wishes when we see a dandelion. Or if you’re a gardener you most likely look at as if it were a pest, due to it’s long tap roots they are fairly hard to get rid of. However, these greens appear in the spring at the market and you should give them a chance. Dandelion greens have a high nutrient density and actually has a higher amount of Vitamin A than carrots! The leaves are usually longer than the ones found in the wild and they are less bitter. The season of this green starts now and goes into summer, but early spring is always the best I find. You can use them as you would any salad green (although the leaves tend to do better if you tear them rather than cut them) and they are great addition to a dish like risotto.
Monika Bock is a holistic nutritionist based in Munich, she is the owner of Nourish-Alō Holistic Nutrition and whose motto is Nourish/Thrive/Sustain. She loves starting her day with a glass of water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Monika works with a diverse clientele with various health concerns and goals. Acknowledging that Every BODY is different and people have individual needs, she addresses these needs through a whole food nutrition program and lifestyle change approach.
Reduced rates available for members of the Über Moms group. Special Über Moms workshops are being re-scheduled for mid-May and June: Eating healthy in Munich (An ex-pat’s guide to navigating the search for & using healthy foods) & Clean Eating for Healthy Kids & More information on upcoming workshops: firstname.lastname@example.org