Digestive Greens & The 6 Tastes
Greens are an important component in my diet.
As a food category greens are very nutrient dense, flavourful and filling. Almost every health plan counts greens as a staple. Ayurveda builds health into each day from the most basic level of self care, through thought, breath, movement, food and drink. Digestive greens fit right into to a healthy Ayurvedic diet.
In Ayurveda greens can really help you include all the 6 tastes in your main meal of the day.
The Six Tastes Include…
Ayurveda suggests inclusion of all six tastes in each meal for optimal digestion and satisfaction.
Of these six tastes, bitter and astringent are scarce in the standard American Diet.
We are big on the sweet, sour, salty and pungent tastes. Different greens are seasonal during Vata, Kapha and Pitta seasons. Greens are sattvic in nature. All of these factors make greens wonderful food choices. In excess they can aggravate Vata dosha, so I add spices to help with digestion. Greens encompass a pretty wide number of foods, so you can tailor your choice to eat seasonally and most help balance your prakruti.
In some greens, like swiss chard, kale and collards you eat the leaves and stems. There are many greens that form heads, such as cabbage and napa cabbage. Other greens also come with an edible root, like beets, turnip, and kohlrabi. These roots have different tastes, energy and effects and are best left to a separate discussion.
Why pick one green over another?
First and foremost, eat greens for balance and for health. I eat greens everyday trying to rotate seasonally so I get variety. I suggest inclusion of greens in the diet as a way to boost nutrition, and bitter and astringent flavors. This diet choice helps balance my kapha on an ongoing basis. It is easy to toss a few leaves of spinach, kale or cabbage in a smoothie or a salad stir fry or soup.
A note of caution on eating spinach if you have osteoporosis. Similarly be mindful of kale, collards and cabbage if you have issues with your thyroid or on blood thinners. Regular use of spinach, kale, cabbage and collard greens are not recommended for people with specific health conditions.
Availability narrows choice in food.
Organic greens from the supermarket channel can be limited to what is popular. I am fortunate. Organic dandelion, kale, chard, spinach and cabbage are regularly available where I live. This is not the case throughout the United States. Association with a green grocer who will special order or a farm through a farm stand or a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program can widen your access to other organic plants not grown commercially.
Utility is another reason for greens choice, some greens like spinach, cabbage and kale, lend themselves in taste to a wider variety of uses, soups, stir fries wraps, and smoothies. For my taste, other greens don’t play as well with others, and better off as a main, or side dish.
I almost always cook strongly flavored greens.
Cooked greens can take just a bit more planning dependent on how much flavor punch you like. Certain traditions boil or steam greens first to tone down the strong flavor then stir fry them with spices. I often do this with turnip, mustard greens and collard greens.
Here is a recipe that can be used for a number of different greens. Enjoy!
Lemon Garlic Digestive Greens:
- 1 bunch greens your choice or ½ -1 head of cabbage.
- Juice of 1 – 2 lemons
- Olive Oil or coconut oil
- Minced garlic
- Chopped parsley
- Black Pepper
- Sea salt
- Wash Greens until water runs clear
- Chop into 1” squares.
- Steam for 5 – 10 minutes until greens just starts to wilt.
- Place greens in a mixing bowl.
- Chop parsley finely.
- Mince 2 cloves of garlic
- Warm 1 – 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Add garlic, parsley and pepper.
- Cook spices lightly
- Mix oil, lemon juice, and spices to taste.
- Pour mixture over greens.
- Stir fry or Massage and serve.
Enjoy your digestive greens!