What is considered the healthiest food on the planet?
Dark-leafy green vegetables.
One of the best things you can do increase your lifespan (a high-quality lifespan, might I add) is to eat dark leafy greens every day. (1) This is because dark-leafy greens are associated with the strongest protection against chronic disease (2), and even more so against heart attack (3) and stroke (4).
What about breast cancer and green vegetables? Researchers looked at 50,000 African American women and found that those who consumed two or more servings of vegetables per day had significantly reduced risk of ER-/PR- breast cancer. (5) ER-/PR- (estrogen and progesterone receptor negative) breast cancer is considered one of the hardest to treat.
And which vegetable topped the chart for breast cancer protection? Collard greens.
Which foods are included in “dark-leafy greens”? Just to name a few . . .
Kale (all varieties)
To some, incorporating dark-leafy greens regularly is pretty easy. To many, regular consumption is difficult. I would go ahead and bet the most difficult part is trying to find different ways to include dark-leafy greens rather than a distaste for them.
And in the words of a colleague of mine, Betty Halloway, ask yourself “Can I add greens to that?”
I love Betty’s motto -- and her recipes -- so it only seems appropriate to share one of my favorite recipes from Betty.
If you’ve been looking for a more filling salad to compliment a meal, a salad option for a lighter dinner, or a perfect dish to pass this summer, this salad is just what you’ve been looking for!
Are you ready to commit to increasing your dark-leafy green consumption? If you can, aim for 2 servings (1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked) each day.
Jeweled Barley Salad
Yields: 8 side dish servings, 3-4 entree salads
Inspired & Adapted from: Betty Halloway, Nutriphoria
Bring three cups salted water or broth to a boil. Add one cup dry barley; reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 60 minutes. Drain & cool.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, agave/honey, and salt & pepper (to taste). Mix well.
Pour half of the dressing over the warm barley and let it stand while the rest of barley cools and you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Prepare the onion and fruit. Add the onion, dried fruit, almonds, and apple to the grain mixture. Mix in greens when you are ready to serve. When ready to serve, drizzle the remaining dressing, if desired.
*To save time, you may also use 10-Minute or Instant Barley. You can find something like this at Trader Joe’s.
** We prefer high-quality oils and vinegar from specialty oilery stores, i.e. Oliva Di Vita, Oro Di Oliva, etc.
***To take away the bite of red onion, soak the diced red onion in ice water for 10-15 minutes. Stir 1-2x.
1 cup pearled barley, dry (or, 3 cups cooked)*
3 cups salted water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (high-quality**)
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar (high-quality**)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon agave or honey
Salt and black pepper, to taste
⅓ cup slivered almonds
¼ small red onion, finely diced***
½ cup dried craisins or dried cherries
1 cup raspberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries
or ½ cup pomegranate seeds
1 apple such as Gala or Honeycrisp, fined diced
2-3 cups baby spinach or spring mix salad greens
Tamakoshi A, Tamakoshi K, Lin Y, Yagyu K, Kikuchi S. Healthy lifestyle and preventable death: findings from the Japan Collaborative Cohort (JACC) Study. Prev Med. 2009;48(5):486-92.
Hung HC, Joshipura KJ, Jiang R, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of major chronic disease. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2004;96(21):1577-84.
Joshipura KJ, Hu FB, Mason JE, et al. The effect of fruit and vegetable intake on risk for coronary heart disease. Ann Intern Med. 2001;134(12):1106-14.
Josiphura KJ, Ascheiro A, Manson JE, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake in relation to risk of ischemic stroke. JAMA. 1999;282(13):1233-9.
Boggs DA, Palmer JR, Wise LA, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake in relation to risk or breast cancer in the Black Women’s Health Study. Am J Epidemiol. 2010;172(11):1268-79.