Spring Bitter Greens—and Better Digestion
As the days become longer in Ohio, we all feel the excitement on the farm as outdoor planting begins and the first glimmers of green begin pushing up through the soil. Historically, spring greens have been an important source of nourishment after winter.
Spring greens are rich in vitamins (including A, C, K), minerals (including calcium, magnesium, and potassium), fiber, and phytonutrients (including glucosinolates and chlorophyll).
A Few of Our Favorite Bitter Greens
- Mustard (like Mizuna)
Bitter: the Missing Taste
There are six tastes that are identified in Ayurveda:
- Spicy (pungent)
- Astringent (feels drying in your mouth)
Take a moment to think about the tastes you experience most often. For most, meals and snacks (and cravings) revolve around the tastes of sweet, sour, and salty. Generally speaking, spicy, bitter, and astringent tastes are consumed less frequently.
Ayurveda views taste as a therapeutic tool that determines how we experience our food; how our body, mind, and spirit respond to the plants we consume; and how we taste the flavors of our existence. It is recommended that each meal contains all six tastes. The six tastes combine in endless ways to create how we experience the world around us and instinctively we have an innate intelligence that, when listened to, helps guide us towards tastes that correspond with plants that our bodies need.
Many factors can decrease the secretion of digestive juices, including aging, medications (like proton pump inhibitors), and stress. Digestive juices are essential for allowing the nutrients contained in the food we eat to be absorbed and utilized in our bodies. Without adequate digestive juices, undigested food can pass through the intestinal tract, resulting in vitamin and mineral deficiencies as well as gas and bloating from the undigested food being fermented in the colon.
In French culture, a salad is consumed after the meal and before cheese to help aid digestion and cleanse the palate. The bitter taste on your taste buds stimulates the secretion of saliva in the mouth and the vagus nerve, which helps to increase your body's secretion of additional digestive juices (hydrochloric acid, pancreatic enzymes, and bile), which may help to alleviate heartburn, indigestion, bloating, and gas, and promote regularity. Bitter tastes (like in bitter greens) help to lessen sugar cravings and help us feel full and satisfied after meals.
Not Loving Bitter But Still Want to Benefit
Here are a few of my favorite tricks and tips for helping to tame down the bitter flavor (especially if you are a supertaster):
- Start low and go slow: start with just a handful of bitter greens mixed with more mild greens and work your way up.
- Use a high-quality olive or avocado oil, which can help coat the taste buds and decrease the bitter flavor.
- Add flavorful herbs or other strongly flavored vegetables to your dish.
- Balance the bitter flavor with the use of:
- A natural sweetener such as maple syrup or honey.
- Vinegar or lemon juice.
- A pinch of a mineral-rich sea salt
- If you enjoy your food spicy, spice it up!
The Taste of Spring Delivered to Your Door
Spring is a great time to wake up your sense of taste and optimize your digestion. We grow the most amazing bitter greens you can find! They are harvested and then shipped the very next day! We’d love to connect with you on social media. Share your photos and stories with farmerjonesfarm on Instagram. Join our community on Facebook.
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