Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘bitter greens’

The Greens Go Round And Round

Posted by terrepruitt on October 23, 2012

I love the grocery store that is near the facility in San Jose where I teach Nia on Tuesdays.  Right after Nia class I can easily stop by because it is literally on the way home.  It seems so new because it is fresh and clean!  They have a very large produce department.  Today I purchased some dandelions greens.  Yeah, I bought a weed.  You might know that I have mentioned that different plants fall into different botanical families and how we might think of it as a vegetable but it is really a fruit according to the world of botany.  I have shared how I cannot keep track of that.  Well, I am going to have to start at least when it comes to greens.  Apparently when you eat a lot of greens over an extended period of time you risk eat high level of toxin.  It is important to rotate the family of greens.

The science behind it is that plants, what we call greens have a survival mechanism where they contain small levels of toxins.  These toxins are contained in the plant in order to keep the entire crop from being depleted.  The toxins build up in the body and cause reactions.  So that keeps them from being eating in large quantities.  The toxins are specific to a family of greens.  Here are some families and the vegetables/greens that belong to them:

Plant Family:  Brassicaceae/Cruciferae (cruciferous vegetables) – kale, collards, arugula, cabbage, bok choy, radish greens, mustard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Chinese cabbage, cauliflower, turnip root greens, rutabaga, daikon

Plant Family:  Amaranthaceae/ Chenopodiacea Family (beet family) – beet greens, beet root, spinach, chard, beets

Plant Family:  Asteraceae – Romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, leaf lettuce, escarole

Plant Family:  Apiaceae (carrot family) – carrots, parsley, cilantro, anise, celery, chervil, cumin, dill, fennel, parsnip,

Plant Family:  Poaceae – wheatgrass

I’ve been mixing a bitter green, such as kale, with a mild green, such as baby bok choy or spinach.  Now according to the families it’s ok to mix the kale with the baby bok choy, but if I want to rotate my greens by doing it between the different families then I shouldn’t mix kale and spinach.  For me I think rotating between different families and keeping them separate will be easier than try to track two families then switch to another, but we will see.  I love spinach and baby bok choy so I think it would be better for me to keep them separate so that I can have one or the other more often.

I have yet to try lettuce in a smoothie.  As I mentioned, I just bought my dandelion greens and I have not used them because I have a large amount of spinach I want to try to make a dent in first.  I did read they are bitter so, maybe this will be an opportunity for me to try lettuce in a smoothie.  I feel that mixing a bitter green with a mild green cuts the bitter so that is what I have been doing.  The information I have seen said that spinach is mild and that is what people start with so I was using that as my “mixer”.  But now I will try to use something from the same family in order to keep with my plan of rotating between families.

I don’t know that I am really so concerned about these toxins building up to unsafe levels because I think I do a good job of switching, but this type of information gives me an extra push to really work to get the variety of greens in my smoothies.  I mean aside from wanting to have more greens I do think of my smoothies as a way to get nutrients from greens that I would not normally eat.  As an example, I eat spinach all the time so it is good to for me to “have” to branch out with some of these other greens.  A good variety of fruits and vegetables is how we get the most nutrients out of our food.

Also, having this information is good because if you do start feeling ill/off you could look to this information to see if you are consuming too much of one thing and it may be the cause.

Do you rotate your greens?  How do you do it?

Posted in Food, Vegetables | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Too Bitter To Swallow

Posted by terrepruitt on May 10, 2012

I have a friend on FB who works really hard to feed her family healthy things.  I think there are food allergies and intolerances involved so she has to be very particular with what she feeds her family.  Often times she posts some pretty creative cooking ideas.  One thing she is always asking about is greens.  How do you cook your greens?  She usually states which green she is working with but she always comes back with, “It is so bitter.”  Now some of the greens she says are bitter taste a little bitter to me, but with olive oil, salt, garlic, and onion the flavor is masked.  Some of them she claims are bitter aren’t bitter to me.  I really think that the bitter taste has less to do with which vegetable than with our genes.

Back in 1931 a chemist (Arthur Fox) was pouring a powdered chemical (PTC) and some of its dust got in the air.  His assistant said the dust tasted bitter, while he couldn’t taste anything.  The chemist proceeded to experiment with PTC and the taste on his friends and family.  Some could taste a strong bitter taste, while some could taste a mild bitter taste, while some could taste nothing at all.  Seventy-two years later in 2003 the gene that is responsible for this was discovered.  They call it the PTC gene or TAS2R38.  This gene has seven forms, five of which are rare, and two of which are common.  The two common forms are the ones that allow for tasting bitter and one that does not.  Since all genes come in pairs we can end up with both being the tasting gene, or both being the non-tasting gene, or one of each.

If an individual ends up with both of the genes that allow for them to taste PTC then they will be able to taste bitter things more strongly than others.  If an individual has the genes that are the “non-tasting” genes then they don’t taste bitter.  Then there are the individuals that have one of each. It has been found that there is a familial link, if some family members can taste the PTC than other can too.

I would imagine that if an individual has a set of bitter-taste genes then it would be almost impossible to cover up the bitter taste of many vegetables.  I am thinking that my friend and her family must have a set of those genes because she says she has cooked some veggies a multitude of ways and her comment is still, “It is so bitter.”  Probably the only way to deal with the bitter is to cover it up entirely in a sauce but then that would somewhat defeat the purpose of trying to eat a nice green healthy vegetable.  Plus I would bet that most of the sauces contain ingredients she is trying to avoid.  She is determined though.  She knows that the bitter vegetables have really good stuff in them so she keeps trying.  In the meantime her family is still getting the nutrients even though it is bitter and doesn’t taste good.

There are test strips that can be purchased to see which gene you have.  I found some on Amazon.  Interesting, huh?

Do you have a good sense of taste?  Do you taste bitter really strongly?

Posted in Misc | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »