Greens are so good for us – and as spring arrives there’s a renewed focus on these delightful vegetables. Here’s what a hundred-year-old cookbook says about them:
At no time have greens played such an important part in our diet as they do today. We are realizing and appreciating their beneficial effects on the system more than ever before. Containing, as they do, valuable mineral salts and special medicinal virtues, they should be used liberally, while they are in season.
The tonic greens of spring correct the results of the heavy winter diet. Greens of every sort are held in high esteem for their purifying qualities–spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, cress, dandelion, sorrel, mustard greens, chicory, beet greens, horseradish, and parsley are examples.
Each green is considered as possessing specific medicinal value, and all are aids in clearing the liver, blood and skin.
Serving a variety of greens from day to day provides all the virtues possessed by the different ones. Americans are appreciating the homely garden greens more and more and are utilizing them in salads, soups, sauces, and as garnishings.
In the these days of auto-intoxication, and other diseases, due to accumulated poisons in the body, it is well to make liberal use of nature’s cleansing agents.
Water cress grows wild and may be found on streamlets. Like other greens it is an anti-scorbutic, palatable and wholesome.
Dandelion greens are regarded as liver and blood purifiers.
Lettuce contains an opium principle, is a laxative, introduces mineral matter and helps to provide an alkaline condition of the blood.
The Housevife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)
The statement about lettuce containing an opium principle made no sense to me, so I googled it, and discovered that the white oozy liquid that emerges from lettuce stems when they are freshly cut looks similar to opium. This liquid was once considered to have medicinal properties. It used to be dried and was put into some patent medicines. It was believed to be a sedative and cough suppressant.