*For those who are new here, please note that you can click here and check the previous days. Also, this challenge is not a strict diet plan but a series of mini-challenges to establish healthy Mediterranean diet habits. I do include links and suggestions for recipes, if you want a menu plan you can go here for a 5-day mix and match plan. For a longer comprehensive 14-day plan along with 100 recipes you can consider my new book.
Welcome to Day #5!
Eating greens is one of the most beneficial aspects of the Mediterranean diet, particularly in the Greek diet. There are over 80 different kinds of edible wild greens in Greece.
Growing up Greek on the outskirts of Chicago, I remember my mom, my grandparents and other Greeks gathering all the dandelion weeds from the yard and cooking them. Drizzled with olive oil, they were delicious!
Typically, the greens (called horta in Greek) are boiled and then served warm or at room temperature with some good extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and some feta. They are also added and cooked with beans, eggs, fish, and meat. But my favorite is when they are made into a savory pie known as hortopita (greens pie).
Wild greens (and herbs) are the secret weapon of the Mediterranean diet, even though they are often overlooked, and it’s a shame because they are one of the most nutrient dense foods that exist.
Greens are rich in antioxidants including flavonoids and polyphenols. They are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A,C K, and E as well as many minerals.
*Aim to eat greens at least 3 times a week.
What Greens Can You Eat
Here is a selection of greens to choose from:
- Dandelion greens: A common weed, but very nutritious.
- Chicory Greens: A green that is a bitte, but once cooked becomes milder.
- Beet Greens: The greens of the beets are delicious and consumed alone or with the bulbs.
- Amaranth: We know amaranth more for its seeds, but the leaves are delicious and nutritious.
- Nettles: Yes, you heard right nettles. Obviously, you don’t eat these raw. Handle carefully with gloves and eat them boiled.
- Purslane: Another weed which is a great source of minerals and has a citrusy flavor.
- Collard Greens/Mustard Greens/Turnip Greens: Typically used in Southern cuisine, they can also be prepared Mediterranean Style.
How Do You Prepare Greens
- Wash well. Soak in water and rinse. Soak a second time in water with a teaspoon of vinegar to loosen any dirt left.
- Place in a large pot of boiling water. Boil for 3 -10 minutes depending on toughness of greens.
- Drain, save some of the cooking water.
- To preserve the bright green color, once cooked, place in a bowl with ice cold water and then drain and add some fresh lemon juice. Otherwise you can serve right away.
- Serve with a bit of the cooking water, extra virgin olive oil, more lemon and season with salt and pepper. Serve as is as a side or as I like it: as main with feta and a slice of whole grain bread.
Where to find greens
- Farmer’s Market
- Also, I have noted 2 U.S. brands (note I have no relationship with these brands) that offer bagged greens:
And of course, if you are unable to find these greens above, spinach or kale are fine substitutes.
Mediterranean Recipes with Greens
You can pretty much use any greens with each of these recipes