I recently attended a Rooted Nutrition cooking class, and discovered that when it comes to edible green vegetables, there is a world of culinary creativity that I have yet to explore.
We learned how to make pesto out of stinging nettles and use chard leaves in place of tortillas for wraps. The secret to the perfect chard tortilla wrap: Pour just-boiled water over the leaves to soften, but do not cook them!
All excited and amazed about the culinary variety leafy greens have to offer, I decided to share my newfound wisdom, and spent a delightful afternoon making smoothies with the residents of a downtown residential hotel (SRO) as a volunteer with the DTES Neighbourhood House Mobile Smoothie Project.
We had a powerful blender, several bags of frozen fruit, a jug of milk, and a bag of fresh, young kale from SOLE Food, one of the social enterprise urban farms in the neighbourhood. I was paired with a gentleman who had lived in the area since before Expo ’86. As we chopped and blended, he fed me stories of how this city has changed in the past few decades.
I have to say: I was sceptical about the infamous green smoothies, but now I am a convert. Don’t just take my word for it, though. One of the hotel residents tried our concoction, took a second cup to his neighbour, and was back a few minutes later for a refill.
I am a dietician. I studied nutrition, and continue to read widely about food systems and food security. I have been aware of the benefits of leafy greens for a while now, and I know they are exceptionally worthy of tucking into my diet – and the diets of everyone that I have some measure of influence over.
That day, I could have calculated how much fibre, protein, potassium, calcium, and other vital nutrients we got into the DTES residents attending our smoothie afternoon, but I’d rather think about the impact that load of vitamins and minerals will have on their haggard bodies, which still makes me smile.