Check it Out: Go greens with new cookbook

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Review

“Wild About Greens: 125 Delectable Vegan Recipes for Kale, Collards, Arugula, Bok Choy, and Other Leafy Veggies Everyone Loves”

By Nava Atlas; Sterling, 223 pages

Whenever I get stressed, my eating habits turn to the dark side. I try to fight through these weak moments, I really do, but more often than not I surrender to junk food. Salty, fatty foods full of empty calories sing a siren's song to my stressed-out soul, beckoning me to indulge that french fry craving, that potato chip urge. If it's true that the human body's desire to consume and store fat can be traced back to prehistoric days when eating this way was crucial to survival, I am cavewoman, hear me roar!

As I get older, I am faced with the reality that the more I succumb to unhealthy food, the more my body objects. So, to help combat these junk food urges, I am checking out cookbooks that focus on using healthy ingredients such as greens. And Nava Atlas's "Wild About Greens" is a fantastic greens cookbook.

Maybe you're already a fan of leafy vegetables with hardy stalks, but I am slow to the table with this one. Without any real experience cooking with greens -- or for that matter, eating them -- I imagined anything leafy with tough stems would cook down into a slimy, inedible mess; or, would cook satisfactorily but taste awful. Perhaps this helps you to understand my reluctance to fully embrace Brassica oleracea and Beta vulgaris (species names for kale and Swiss chard, respectively).

But with the help of the yummy recipes found in this week's cookbook, I am becoming a fan of dark green, curly vegetables. From basic recipes ("simple garlicky greens") to multi-ingredient dishes ("Spring greens sauté with carrots, mint and chives"), I'm learning how to create delectable fare using vegetables I had previously shunned.

If you tend to scoot past broccoli rabe and kale in the grocery store, I'm here to reassure you that these unassuming veggies no longer have to be the dark horse of the produce section. Once you check out Nava Atlas's wonderful cookbook and try a few recipes, your friends will be "greens with envy" about your healthy and delicious contributions to neighborhood potlucks.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at readingforfun@fvrl.org.